Jennifer Hillier

10 things I hate about villains

May 25, 2011 | Uncategorized

Yes, I can feel your shock. Because I’m normally very kind to villains on this blog. They’re my favorite characters, after all, but just because they’re my favorite doesn’t mean they’re perfect.

Here are 10 things that annoy me about villains:

10. They’re unpredictable. They do crazy things that I then have to justify/fix/revise/delete later.

9. They’re moody. Writing all that angst into a character involves a lot of soul-searching. And I don’t want to search my soul.

8. They’re gross. Since villains are usually responsible for spilling most of the blood and guts in a book, they make me write descriptive passages about the different fluids that come out of bodies, and what they smell like… and sometimes, what they taste like.

7. They break laws. This requires me to research the consequences of their actions, like arrest procedures and courtroom trials and plea bargains and prison sentences. And I dislike research. Very much.

6. They make you care about them. To write a believable villain, you have to get inside their heads. And when you do, and you find out that they’re tortured little monsters who’ve suffered their own abuse, you can’t help but feel a teeny bit sorry for them. Which brings me to my next point.

5. They make you feel icky. Empathy for a psycho killer? Ew! I need a shower now! With disinfectant soap!

4. They have to die good deaths. You can’t spend an entire book hunting a villain who then accidentally dies from a peanut allergy alone on a park bench. Lame! You’ve got to build up to their endings and kill them in authoritative ways. And the death has to feel satisfying.

3. They force your heroes and heroines to be smarter. You can’t outwit a good villain without being smart. Or lucky. But too much luck will piss your readers off, so you have to write reasonably intelligent protagonists who can fight back. Which is fun to read, but damn hard to write.

2. They’re frequently accused of being cliché. Which, okay, is not their fault – a lot of the time, they are cliché. Everything’s been done before, in fiction and in real life. Which challenges me, the writer, to make them fresh and interesting, and that’s hard work, too.

1. If written well, they steal every scene they’re in. A good villain is a scene stealer because deep down, we secretly enjoy watching the bad guys kick ass. We don’t want them to win… but we want them to try.

And the 10 things I LOVE most about villains?

Just reread this post. 🙂

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