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What kind of villains do you like?/ what do you like in a villain?

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Technology' started by Canterpiece, Oct 24, 2015.

  1. Canterpiece

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    So I've noticed something, whenever I start writing a story I don't really have much in terms of a villain because the story is usually based off the character's internal struggles with whatever they are dealing with rather than an external issue.

    I've tried placing villains into my stories, but they either seem flat or don't seem to fit into the story's structure. I just don't like writing villains much. However there are villains I like to watch, like Discord for MLP:FIM. I tend to be drawn to the emotionally manipulative villains, the one's who just like messing with people's heads usually just to entertain themselves. Also I quite like anti-heroes, as long as they're not too cliché.

    So what kind of villains do you like? What do you like to see in a villian? Are there any particular villains you like that come to mind? Any tips on writing villains? Do you think a story needs a villain or can it cope without one if there is some sort of other internal/external issue the main character is dealing with? (such as society, rejection, accepting yourself ect.)

    I'd love to hear people's opinions on this. :slight_smile: :eusa_danc
     
    #1 Canterpiece, Oct 24, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  2. Serperior

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    On the story needing a villain I think it's heavily dependent on what genre you're writing for. A romance novel wouldn't need a villain while a say, dystopian book would probably need one. Personally, I think a greatly written villain can be much more interesting than the hero of the story.
     
  3. Jellal

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    I like villains that present a challenge to characters. Villains who are hyped about in the story before they appear, and absolutely live up to their reputations. Villains who can't lose unless you really go above and beyond when taking them on, or villains who cannot be overcome without a sacrifice of something crucial (not just a throwaway character death, for example, but perhaps a moral loss for the protagonist.) Villains should challenge your characters. Villains that pull out victories can also make us root more for your protagonists, since they give protagonists a chance to suffer, learn, grow, and try again, building narrative respect for both villain and protagonist alike.
     
  4. littleraven

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    I like villains that also have positive personality traits. They're not completely 100% evil.
     
  5. CJliving

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    I love love love anti-heroes.

    I like villians that you can figure out, not just a character being evil because there's gotta be an antagonist, but also don't make it easy? Personally I think Batman villians are the best. At first most of them seem to just be f-ed up to be f-ed up, 'cause Gotham's a f-ed up place. But then they all became so multi-faceted.
     
  6. Florestan

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    I think the best way to come up with effective villains is to stop thinking about them as villains in the first place. Write them as people, not as embodiments of pure evil. Obviously, they have to be working against the protagonists, but why? Do they believe they're doing what's right? Do they really want to hurt anyone? What led them to become what they are?
     
  7. Charon

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    Villains who are sadists.
     
  8. MatchAshes

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    i really like this approach when it comes to writing villains. i always thought they the mark of being a real villain, was to have them believe they were good.
    villains tend to be driven by power. if you're not going the personal route go the power route, and they may not admit this to themselves, like professor umbrage from harry potter.

    when i'm writing interpersonal pieces i'll often embody the conflict as another person. i'm not sure if you watch Steven universe, but in my brain i'll often see the part where Stevens sees lapis and jasper fused at the bottom of the ocean. i hope i helped. maybe..
     
  9. kageshiro

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    i too lean towards anti heros, though if the performance is charismatic enough i can appreciate a straight villain just as much. the best and 1st example I can think off the top of my head is:[youtube]e_DqV1xdf-Y[/youtube]
     
  10. Alder

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    I'll say that villains who are barely distinguishable at times from the "heroes" are interesting to me. They are, at the end of the day, heroes of their own story despite being the antagonist of another. They can be distinctively "evil," but those villains with depth and motives (perhaps unexpected ones), and some admirable traits such as intelligence and even empathy in certain specific scenarios, are those who draw my attention.

    Especially villains who have traits or behaviour so similar to the heroes, but are markedly different (if not subtly)- perhaps in their morals, or their character, or why they do certain things. I'd say the tragic backstory idea that explains their character, despite being arguably overused in some cases, is still pretty interesting to me. If a villain can be presented in a way so that the reader can actually emphasize and understand some parts of them (or in turn question themselves, as the reader)- but not necessarily agree with them nor justify their actions- it can make for a great story.

    On the flip side of that, writing a villain that readers love to hate, or having despicable morals or intentions that any reader would react emotionally to, has been done as well.

    Then again, those villains who have no backstory, no reason, just pure intent to wreck havoc- if you write them well, they can be great characters too.

    To answer your other question- I don't think a story necessarily needs an antagonist. An antagonist is usually there to provide the conflict, because most stories require that central conflict for there to be a plot. But there can be conflict, problems, issues, with no villain at all. It really depends on what type of story you're writing. Honestly though? In writing, breaking the rules can sometimes be even better than following the rules. Even a superhero novel without an actual villain may turn out to be an amazing story, depending on which direction it may go. Write however you wish, but I've read great books both with villains and without.
     
    #10 Alder, Oct 24, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
  11. candyjiru

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    This~ and also, you don't always need a villain, but you do need obstacles. Obstacles can be things or events (snowstorm, lack of funds, emotional hurdles) or they can be people (the mom who doesn't want her son to move off the farm to follow his passions because she needs or thinks she needs him there helping the family, the boss who doesn't put faith in the newcomer and needs to be shown proof of their work, the ex who is still in love with the main character's current love interest and needs to be kept firmly in the past to make the relationship work).
     
  12. Kaboom

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    I love a villain with a sense of humor! My most recent favorite has been Ultron from the Avengers movie. Ultron wants to achieve ''world peace'' via mass extinction lol that's one way to do it.

    I like an intelligent and strong villain, one who is in 100% control of their actions/emotions. I like them to be charismatic and precise with their words.

    If you want a villain people love to hate, leave out the back story. You don't want people to sympathize with them. You want them evil, but not evil for the sake of being evil; allow them to have a purpose.

    Kahn from Into Darkness is one that comes to mind. He pretty much knows he's better than everyone else. It's portrayed really well on screen.

    Loki from Thorn and The Avengers. He's smart and calculating and can get into people's head. He also has some pretty funny lines.

    I don't think you need a villain. I love ''mother nature gone bad'' movies: The Day After Tomorrow, Twister, Dante's Peak, The Core... so on. I think it depends on the story you're writing.
     
  13. Anthemic

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    I have always loved Harley Quinn. Mostly because she's so silly, which reminds me of myself, even if I'm more of a hero. She's troubled and madly in love with someone who will never return those feelings. I just love HQ!
     
  14. loveislove01

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    Depending on what you're trying to write.

    Sometimes, villains are funny and provide some sort of comic relief. I've seen this in a lot of anime.
    Other times, they're not bad people. They're just tragically flawed and it'll lead to their eventual demise. Or however your story ends. If you're going this approach it's probably important to develop their character, make the readers feel for them, too, while siding with the hero.
     
  15. Devil Dave

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    I like villains who are not entirely evil, they have morals and standards and could be friends with the hero if circumstances were different.

    If the heroes and villains are on different sides of a war, I like the villains to be fighting for their country and still believe they are on the right side. It gives us a chance to see that the good guys are not entirely in the right and that the bad guys are not entirely in the wrong.

    Or if the hero and villain are best friends or lovers who fall out over a disagreement. We see that the characters affect each other strongly because they once loved and trusted each other and are now on opposing sides. We may sometimes see them reconnect and becomes allies, even if just briefly, before they go back to hating and fighting each other. Although this situation can go stale if it drags on too long.
     
  16. Connorcode

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    When the villain isn't bad at all - that's just the way the protagonist presented them!

    The example that's comes to mind is the married doctor from the French film 'He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not', where we think he's a jerk who's cheating on his wife, only to abandon his new lover. And then the film rewinds and swaps perspectives, showing the doctor's version of events, showing he's actually a poor guy who gets preyed on by an obsessive neighbour who believes he's in love with her just because he gave her a rose once (from a much larger bouquet going to his wife). Then the lover tries to kill him and ruin his life, before he eventually salvages his life from this misfortune. Lovely.
     
    #16 Connorcode, Oct 25, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2015
  17. Origamidragons

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    I like complex villains- ones where you can't just know their plot right away and and simultaneously entertaining and horrifying.... think of the Joker or Tyler Durden.
     
  18. PerditionRawr

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    As others have mentioned, thinking of villains as characters with motivations and rational reasons for their behavior is important, if you want a memorable (terrifying?) villain.

    I tend to lean towards the more amicable villains who just happen to be evil (think of the Mayor from Buffy Season 3).

    But it's important to remember that villains and their motivations should fit the tone of the piece, (and if they don't, the dissonance should be intentional). For example, a darker piece would have either a 'evil because I can' sort of villain. In dystopian sorts of fiction, any villains that pop up are results of that society, so antagonists are 'evil', because they are a product of society.

    But yeah, conflict drives stories. It's most common for it to manifest as a specific person or group of people, and when you generalise it to something more abstract - nature or an ideology, it becomes trickier to work with.
     
  19. Canterpiece

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    Yep, currently obsessed with that show. :grin:
     
  20. 101DeadRoses

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    I personally like some scary villians who are right bastards; Manipulating people, murdering people, stealing things that others need just for the hell of it, and like Canterpiece said, someone who messes with your mind and manipulates you just because they can.

    But I agree with Nice Dave even more than I like a good old-fashioned bad guy:
    I especially like the "different sides of a war" concept. It's one of my goals to someday write a book in which there is no antagonist or protagonist, just sides of a war, a simple, unbiased retelling of events, characters, stories and histories that the reader can interpret as they choose. Of course, both sides will do douchey things, good things, agree and disagree on various points and both will have similar goals and motivations. The ending - and story itself - could either be a tragedy or fun adventure story (or anything in between) depending on the reader