Signs you’ve Written a Bad Villian (OLD)
(In my opinion)
I love villains, sometimes even more than the hero. They’re multi-dimensional characters with interesting backstories, devious plots, and make an interesting foil to our protagonist.
Too bad for every amazing villain, there are a bunch of trite, cliched villains that are so over the top, they look like they’re a few steps away from twirling an evil handlebar mustache while tying a damsel to the train tracks. So hang on tight, because in this list all be going over a few signs you‘ve written one of these bad villains.
1- Villain is one-dimensional:
Example of a one-dimensional villain:
King Bone Shatter Dagger Storm v
He’s Pure evil, wants vengeance for being defeated once, and has a “tragic” backstory.
To fulfill his intricate evil plan…and KILL!
Annnnd, that’s it.
See the issue? This villain, “King Bone Shatter Dagger Storm v,” is too one-dimensional.
The reason why is being he’s not believable.
For a villain to be believable, they don’t have to be to be human, but they do have to have some aspects or traits of humanity.
King Bone Shatter Dagger Storm v, has no traits outside of “pure evil.”
Is he ambitious? Does he believe his actions are for a noble cause? Does he truly believe he’s saving everyone, or do his actions stem from a more warped point of view? Does he golf on his free time? We’ll never know. Why, because he’s just evil.
2- Villain is physically designed terribly:
How you design your character is important, after all, you want your villain to be intimidating, and a fast way to do that is to make your character look fierce, or threatening…But then we have people who go over the top, and instead of looking like a genuine intimidating figure, the villain looks ridiculous.
(This tends to happen when the writer decides to throw in too many features of “bad dude,” resulting in a messy design.)
Tips to fix a terrible design:
Focus on the less is more approach and try to imagine if the villain or even any character really will utilize their outfit.
Do they want to become known as soon as they enter a village and spread fear? Or are they trying to stay hidden until the time is right? Heck, it may be good for them to change their clothes depending on the scenario.
Their outfit can help tell their story as well. It can serve a function or purpose, perhaps the villain carries around a sword, or knife or sword because he or she duels a lot. Or maybe the villain just wants to intimidate, so the villain dresses to stand out or instill fear.
(And please, make sure it makes sense!)
It wouldn’t really make sense for an antagonist who was said to be invincible to somehow have to wear an eye-patch because their eye was damaged in combat.
Maybe it is a handicap because it hides some power or maybe they just love fighting and want to give their opponent a chance.
Or maybe, the antagonist wasn’t invincible all their lives, but overall the writer needs to pay attention to the lore they are presenting with their character.
Over the top names, and over-dramatic behavior like, slaughtering a populace, lighting things on fire, etc., just for the fun of it.
They have names like Blood Wolf, Dark Lotus, Twisted skull, Bladeden, and King Bone Shatter Dagger Storm v.
With sadistic laughter, chilling gazes, and brooding half the time in a dimly lit area. These characters are lacking any shred of humanity …and originality (and are most likely drenched in blood in some scenes).
3-Horrible Dialogue- When you write your villain, you need to make it their own voice, their dialogue should match them as a character. That is how you are able to avoid such common overused phrases.
Phrases such as:
“Heh, you thought you could defeat me that easily?”
“MUAHAHHAHAHA!”(shortly followed by a thunder crack.)
“Ha! Resistance is futile!”
*Insert Maleficent Chuckling*
“you’ll never save her now…”
“Heh, you’ve fallen into my trap!”
“Now I’ve caught you!”
“you never see your precious __insert loved one__ again!
“Well, well, well…”
“H-How could/did you escape/defeat me again!?!”
“Guards (or mythical creature(s), seize them/him/her!”
(These villains are only a few sentences from saying, “I’ll squash you like a bug!” )
Bonus: 4- Villain Talking to captured or cornered Hero
Though having this scene doesn’t necessarily point to you having a bad villain, it is a red flag that your treading cliche territory, this scene has been done for far over a decade so beware!
So, the villain finally has the hero trapped in his grasp, so much can be so much here, interrogation, torture, or straight up elimination! So many possibilities….
Yet, the writer chose to have the villain monologue, (how gripping).
Like Dr. Doofenshmirtz they will needlessly talk about their evil plan, or what terrible things they’ve done, except for this time, it won’t be for comedic purposes or in a cartoon.
If you do have a scene like this, spruce it up and bring something new to the table. That way they’ll be something new and interesting rather than the same boring “I’ve got you now,” dialogue.
Also, make sure it makes sense for that villain to This a worn-out plot device, for the villain to reveal the plan, to a hero that’s totally not going to escape and stop the said plan.
I’d like to end this by saying if you see a villain only as a means to make your protagonist look better, or an obstacle, you’re, seeing them from a heavily flawed perspective. Villains aren’t just another conflict, they’re a character. The heroes of their own stories, and an essential part of a great plot. And unless you write your villain like an actual character, then I so no reason to put one in at all.
After all, who needs heroes, when we’ve got villains!
Did you agree with my thoughts on villains, or did I oversee a few crucial points? Leave your comment below, I’d love to read it and get some feedback. Once more, thanks for reading, until time! 🙂