Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tips for Good/Bad Characters

When you think about it, who are the most beloved villains? Actually, it's not the one who's evilest. It's the one with a more divided personality. The ones who might seem good in the beginning, but turn out to be an enemy.

Loki. Luke Castellan. Anakin Skywalker. What do these bad guys have in common? They're good-gone-bad. You might think you know them, but then they backstab your favorite character out of nowhere. Sometimes when you're convinced they're bad, they surprise you. But the best bad guys are more than just good-gone-bad. The best villains make you torn. (This is supposed to be about good-gone-bad villains, but it could work with other villains too.)

It's not enough that you make them bad. You have to make your reader care. One of the many errors with the Percy Jackson movie was what they did with Luke. In the book, he was a nice guy and it hurt when he turned on Percy. However, in the movie, you can see it coming. He cusses. He's mean. Above all else, you don't care when he turns to the dark side.

How do you make the readers care? More importantly, how do you make them torn, especially when the villain seems to be nothing but a jerk?

I've noticed how effective revealing the past can be. Though I haven't seen Wicked, I read the plot and it was very interesting. It proved to me that a villain's past can make the reader look in a whole different perspective. Take The Last Olympian for instance.

By now, we should hate Luke. He's betrayed all the characters we love for no good reason other than he hates his father. But... we get a backstage pass on his childhood before the whole '"evil'"thing. Looking at things in his perspective, our hearts softens. His father left him with his insane mom and refuses to tell him about his future. We began to have a little grace for him. I know I was torn, reading the last two books.

Have the villain fight against his old best friend. This is especially cruel because, while it only makes the audience hate the villain more, it's painful to watch. During the fight, let the good guy remember a happy time with his friend-turned-enemy. Recalling how it used to be will make the scene more tedious and create tension. We expect people like Peter Pan and Captain Hook to fight. But brothers like Loki and Thor? It's not only unexpected; it's difficult.

On that subject, bring back endearments. Things like nicknames, etc. In a series I was finishing, my favorite character, Newt, went crazy and attacked the protagonist, Thomas. Before he went crazy, Newt would call Thomas "Tommy" as a nickname, when they were friends.  During the fight, Newt was shouting horrible things about Thomas, making me very upset. To make it worse, the whole time, he was calling him, "Tommy." It reminded me of how things used to be and made me more depressed! (Took a few days to get over that book)

This probably is the most effective. Always make him do the unexpected. It's what made Loki such an awesome villain. Nobody knows who he really is, especially in Thor 2: The Dark World. When you're just beginning to like him, you hate him. When you're starting to hate him, you're forced to like him. You don't know who he is. He's a puzzle, You. Are. Torn. One character sends on an emotional roller coaster ride.

But, I will warn you, do not go as far as to make the evil he's doing look attractive. UNLESS you want him to be deceiving. Always tell your reader that eventually. Evil can seem to be okay, but that's as far as it can go. Seems is fine. A lot of bad things seem fine. Is goes to far. Evil might seem good, but it never is good.

Who is your villain? Are you trying to make him all bad or have a divided personality?


  1. Absolutely fantastic post! I couldn't agree more. Loki is one of my all-time favorite villains. He's just brilliant, in all the ways you described--especially in Thor 2! I can tell you must be a wonderful writer/character development kinda person. :)

    God bless and much love,
    Joy :)

    1. Thank you! I have a special love for Loki since I watched Thor 2. I'm really not... I have a lot to learn:)
      Thanks for commenting!
      In Christ,


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