Writing Advice

Villains Fortnight: Villains We’d Like to See

Villains we’d like to see more of:

  • Female villains who aren’t stereotypes/cliches.

This article discusses how female villains always stick to three cliches; the femme fatale, evil enchantress and evil relative. And we’re tired of seeing them. It’s rare for a female villain to be well developed but when done well they can be even more captivating than their male counterparts. Just look at the portrayal of the female Jamie Moriarty in Elementary, she is written as strongly as a male villain would be yet at the same time her sex isn’t ignored.

  • Villains who use more subtle tactics rather than simply brute force.

Killing in cold blood is evil, and so is chopping heads and fingers off. From the outset, the reader knows that the character is evil, but what about villains who aren’t so obvious with their evil deeds and intentions. The use of brute force has been overdone, it’s time for the brains to take over.

  • Villains who might actually win.

Whenever we pick up a book, it always seems clear cut. The protagonist is the good guy, the antagonist is the bad guy, and we always know the hero wins at the end. There’s no surprise, there’s no tension. Even when things look grim, it’s predictable how it will end, something will happen that gives the hero confidence and then they’ll defeat the villain. But rarely in a book (or story of any kind) is there a moment when the reader stops and thinks, ‘hold on, might the villain actually win this? Would the writer actually do that?’

  • Villains that are as well developed as the Hero.

It is important to develop your hero as much as possible, after all they are the character that your reader follows around all the time, but often it seems as if it’s at the expense of the villain. The villain is often a ghostly figure who exists to oppose the hero and do nothing more. Your hero doesn’t just exist to save the day, they have a life, so why should your villain? When you create a character you should also create the parts that the reader doesn’t see. Villains are people too (usually).

  • Villains with love in their life.

This is leading on from the last post really. There is an extended network of people in your life, there is an extended network of people in your hero’s life, there should be an extended network of people in your villain’s as well. Have you thought about who their friends are? Their family? Have they ever been in love? Do they have a partner? Children?

  • Child villains (who isn’t some creepy ghost).

We already have the 11 year old heroes: The Golden Trio consisting of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Where is the villain equivalent? Especially in a series. With the Harry Potter series we saw the main characters change and grow, could you imagine a story with a child antagonist? The unpredictability as they change and grow and struggle through their years?

  • Villains who aren’t necessarily the bad guy/ antagonists who aren’t villains. 

Not the kind who have a sob story ready to spew or justify their actions with the claim that it’s for the greater good. Villains who aren’t actually evil. They may be opposing the protagonist and they may be doing evil things, but that might not necessarily make them an evil person.

  • Not a type of villain, but something I’d like to see: Villain vs villain in the battle of the villains

Just imagine a Hunger Games type of scenario jampacked with our favourite villains competing against each other to prove that they are the baddest villain around. Almost like the Minions movie. Even a more closed scenario when both the protagonist and antagonist are the villains and the fight is between two people unafraid to go to any lengths.

Villains we’d like to see less of:

  • The evil, old, ugly hag.

Or more broadly the idea that the villain’s outward appearance, somehow represents their inner heart. Quite often it’s the villains who have flawed characteristics: they might be crippled, ugly, old and somehow that reinforces the idea they’re evil. It’s another form of prejudice.

  • Complete monster

It’s hard to believe in a character that has absolutely no redeeming qualities at all, and frankly it makes the character a lot less interesting and one-dimensional. There is always something that should motivate your characters, even if they’re the villain, in fact even more so because of that.

So what do you think? Do you agree with this list? Would you add or remove anything from this list? Tell us in the comments below.

Nadia & Elizabeth


4 thoughts on “Villains Fortnight: Villains We’d Like to See

  1. Thanks so much for the link and mention! I appreciate this article as well – actually it’s the ever-persistent villain stereotypes like these that inspired me to start my blog.
    Here’s to hoping we all get our wish with better, more interesting villains!


    1. You welcome! We’re doing a ‘Villain Fortnight’ here on YA Teabreak and there are so many of your articles that a relevant, it’s great to be able to share them. We’re posting another article tomorrow (VIllain vs. Villainess) that references your article as well.
      Yes, here’s to hoping! I do love my villains but it’s a shame there are so many stereotypes.

      Liked by 1 person

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