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Writing Excuses 7: Villains

Writing Excuses 7: Villains
from http://www.writingexcuses.com/2008/03/23/writing-excuses-episode-7-villains/

This episode talked about villains. Understandable villains are usually interesting, and there is a least the possibility of redemption lurking for them. All-powerful villains provide interesting conflict, but there is little connection with them. Villains have different goals from the protagonist, and may be overcome by their flaws.

What makes a good villain?
  1. Understandable, has something in common with the reader
  2. Flaws? But not in every case. Some villains are irredeemably evil.
  3. A good villain is the one who can best exploit the heroes
Understandable or everyman villains versus Superman villains? What different parts do they play, or the gains and losses?
  1. Sauron is a force of nature, Gollum is interesting
  2. struggle against an all-powerful evil is a part of us
  3. but it's not interesting
  4. are we looking for an interesting conflict or an interesting villain?
  5. All powerful villains provide excellent obstacles and channels for the story to work for, but you lose the personal connection
  6. you also lose the possibility of redemption of the villain
Sympathetic, relatable villains? Are their flaws the good parts that keep them from being really bad?
  1. I think I'm stumbling over the metaphorical double negative
  2. okay how do you make a likable villain?
  3. A hero whose goals are opposed to those of the protagonist
  4. the villain sometimes is a member of the heroes party who because of a flaw that he doesn't overcome fails in the end
  5. so a hero overcomes his flaw, while a villain is overcome by his flaw?
Antihero? What is it?
  1. A villain filling a heroic role. Someone who has lots of flaws, but is called to a heroic role.
  2. Someone who takes the flawed hero to extremes. For them the ends really do justify the means.
  3. Sometimes we enjoy the antihero because the villains are as bad or worse than they are. There's a television program that has a serial killer for good.
Part of the fun of this podcast was listening to the first moments when our panel didn't seem quite sure whether this was episode six or seven and the final sound effect when our panel probably thought the mike had already been turned off

Final words
  1. Villains think they are the heroes of their own stories
  2. Good villains are very logical
  3. Take a look at the evil overlord list: try to give your villain weaknesses and motivations without making him an idiot
Tags: writing excuses
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