Celebrate the Craft! - From the blog of Joe Konrath
Let's talk about bad guys.
Some of my favorite books have villains that are just as memorable as the hero.
But what makes a good antagonist? Other than being in competition/conflict/opposition to the hero, what are the traits an adversary needs to have?
Here are a few things your villain should be:
- Charismatic. The reader should be attracted to the villain in some way, even if it is a car-wreck type of attraction.
- Powerful. The villain should be more powerful than the protagonist. Underdog stories are as old as the bible, and show no signs of losing public favor.
- Motivated. A villain should have goals, dreams, desires, and reasons for doing what they do.
- Cruel. Bad guys do bad things. That's what makes them bad.
- Active. Like heroes, villains shouldn't be passive. The need to be doing things, moving the plot along, rather than simply reacting to things.
- Realistic. If the reader doesn't believe the villain, the tension is gone.
This is a missed opportunity to engage and excite the reader. Good vs. Evil is conflict in its purest form, and any sports fan can tell you that competition is a lot of fun.
Take a look at your WIP. Does it have a villain? Does the villain embody the traits listed above? How can your villain be improved?
Who are your favorite villains, and why?