2 comments on “Death of the villain? Is the villain still relevant in an age of complexity?

  1. The most interesting villains are the ones that have a legitimate and understandable reason for opposing the main characters. When the villains aren’t given solid reasons for opposing the main characters is when they fall flat as villains, and this usually results in a weaker story.

    For an example, look at the Harry Potter books. In the first 5 books, he is just evil, with no real reason for being evil. In the sixth book we’re given a chance to look back at why he is evil, and it makes more sense why he wants to overcome the wizard world. I don’t think he’s the best villain, but he is definitely stronger after the sixth book than before.

    A book series with a very interesting take on the villain is The Runelords by David Farland. The primary antagonist for the first 4 books is Raj Ahten. The unique thing about him as a villain is that he actually wants the same thing as the hero of the story, he wants to protect human societies from the menace of the reavers. The primary reason that he’s the villain is because he is choosing to fight the reavers in a very different fashion from the main character.

    One of the simplest ways to create a villain is to simply have some whose goal puts them in direct opposition to the main character. Simply by being opposed to the main character the reader will dislike them. It also helps to keep in mind that the villain doesn’t think of himself as evil, the villain is the hero of his own story. That alone makes the villains more complex because they aren’t in the book simply to be overcome by the hero, they have their own goals and their own motivations.

    • Those are all excellent points. I agree and wish I had put the bit about the villain not seeing him/herself as evil in the original post. All I would add to your comment is that the villain is a bit more than simply an antagonist. There has to be genuine malice for an antagonist to go from being simply the antagonist to a full fledged villain. Thanks for posting such a detailed and interesting comment.

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