Well my father used to tell me I could be the devil’s daughter because I was very mischievous. I would manipulate the situation and usually it was my brother who got in trouble lol. Poor guy. Of course, he has since forgiven me but I’ve always had this naughty side to my personality so that’s who I became. And let me tell you I have had the most fun being bad. Being the bad girl has its advantages lol.
Looking back on some of your favorite books, what do you remember the most? That beautiful setting, those flowing lines of prose, that quick dialogue? Chances are, it’s the characters who made the story work or not work, whichever the case. If you write flat characters, your writing will fall flat.
And all too often we focus so much on our hero and heroines that we forget to develop our villain. Bad guys need love too! We often do detailed character sheets, questionnaires and timelines for our H/h and once we get to our villain we’re clueless about what makes him/her tick.
And I have the most fun writing my villains. I simply love to create complex, emotionally scarred villains, because there’s a little bad guy in all of us whether we want to admit it or not. We all have these emotions of anger, resentment, bitterness and jealousy. But we as normal people have learned to cope and deal with these emotions in a healthy way.
Villains need goals, motivations, and backstory’s just like our hero’s. When writing the not—so—good—guys and the not—so—bad—villains, there are a few things to remember. Not everyone is completely good or completely bad. There’s always a mix of emotions, good and bad memories that make us who we are. So make sure to give your hero a flaw and (many writers forget this) give your villain a virtue.
Making him all bad is too clichéd, give him a reason to be so bad, and the biggest key to writing bad guys is empathy. Not sympathy, empathy. Make the reader empathize with him.
The definition for sympathy is: harmony of or agreement in feeling, as between persons or on the part of one person with respect to another.
The definition of empathy is: the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
You don’t have to agree with your characters in order to understand why they are who they are. The key word there is understand. You’re not giving them permission to be bad when you understand where they come from. When you can separate these two functions in your writing and building your characters then you will start to see more defined and well—rounded characters form.
When you think about it the Hero and villain are really the two sides of the same coin. When you turn the tables and view the story from the opposite side you’ll find that more often than not, everyone’s a villain and everyone’s a hero.
So what about you? Can you see a reflection of your hero in your villain and can you empathize with him? If so? Then you’ve written a well—rounded, three dimensional character.