So, I’ve been working on a lot of bad guy scenes in my books lately and I’ve noticed a trend . . . My bad guys are almost always creepy in more ways than just one. They’re almost always physically creepy, like they look pretty dang intimidating, as well as lustfully abusive. They’re motivated a lot by lust, whether that be seductive lust, or power, or some other form of the word. Greed is another one I’ve noticed.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, my leading men are typically pretty respectful, loving men who absolutely adore their love interests. With the exception of one main character I’m thinking of. Only a few people will know this about the character I’m talking about from my novel, Beyond My Words.
Since I’m on the subject today of antagonists, I’ve decided to write a short blog on what I think makes a great antagonist.
With my antagonist from The Holiday Spirit, he’s pretty straight-forward opposite of my main protagonist, Holly. I think that’s the balance I’ve discovered works best for villains in books. Anything that is opposite of your protagonist, is likely to work well for your antagonist.
“So there’s a method to your madness.”
Bad guys never think they’re doing anything wrong. If they kill puppies for fun, there has to be some sort of reason they’re doing it, right? Maybe they run a puppy farm or something and they just have to run a business. Throw humanity out the window on that one. Crazy example, but yeah. Or they murder people in cold blood because voices in their head tell them to. It’s not their fault because they were told to and they can’t go against those voices!
Bottom line, antagonists have to have motives behind what they’re doing. I remember hearing in a writing conference I went to a a teenager that no one really wakes up in the morning, twirling their curly mustache, and thinks, “how can I kill my nephew today?” In some cases, sure. It happens. But the majority of people think they’re in the right with whatever they’re doing it, justified or not.
It’s not evil, it’s just necessary for their “needs.”
Giving real, human emotions to someone inhumane
I’m a firm believer in expressing emotions. If you’ve read my works at all, you probably know this about me by now. I thrive off it and it’s what drives me to write the way I do. My characters typically feel the world around them very differently from each other.
Holly, from The Holiday Spirit, feels the world in a very simplistic and genuine way. Ellie, from Beyond My Words, feels the world in a very complicated and poetic way. Will, from Convicted: 25 to Life, feels things in a very sarcastic and cynical way.
Bad guys are the same. If I don’t put those real emotions into my antagonist like I do with my heroes, my stories come out bland and no one likes them.
Wren, from The Holiday Spirit, sees the world from a very victimised and internal viewpoint whereas Holly reaches out and loves everyone, no matter what.
Mikey, from Beyond My Words, is very self-motivated and over-the-top confident whereas Ellie is very reserved.
(You thought you’d get spoilers to Convicted, didn’t you?😉 Sorry, still working on that one.)
You get the idea. Opposites attract when it comes to villains and heroes, I’ve learned.
I love this concept so much and it’s something I’m just relishing in right now with my writing. 😊
Also, if you want more of my thoughts on writing, please comment and let me know what you want me to touch on next or if you have more questions on how I create my villains. Subscribe to my newsletter and get notified whenever I post. I’m trying to get a blog out every Monday or Wednesday.
Love you all!! Thank you so much for reading this, hope you enjoyed it!
~ Chandler R. Williamson