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creating a villain here.

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restcity

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I'm trying to make a great villain to be the main character of a story I'm working on. Only... I don't know where to start. what helped you guys make your bad guy?
 

CMBright

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There is often a connection between protagonist and antagonist.

Does you antagonist stand for or threaten something near and dear to your protagonist?

Did your antagonist shape your protagonist? Or did your protagonist create one's own antagonist?
 
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Chris P

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What does your main character want? What or who stands in their way? What happens if the main character fails?

These are the "standard questions" that we talk about in developing query letters, and I think they can help give initial structure to help frame the development of the story. I've even drafted throw-way query letters just so I can make it clear in my own mind that the basic nut of the conflict is.
 
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benbenberi

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some basic questions may help get you going:
  • what do they want?
  • why do they want it?
  • what do they need to do to get it?
  • what or who stand in their way? why?
  • what or who can help them? why?
  • what will they need to do to overcome the obstacles?
  • are there things they won't do to get to their goal?
  • are there things they would be willing to do, that others might not?
  • what are the consequences if they get to their goal?
  • what are the consequences if they fail?
  • what in any of the above causes them to fall into a "villain" category for you? why?
 
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ChaseJxyz

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Every person always thinks they're the main character of their story. Real, meaningful antagonists do, especially so, but they also think they're the hero. They see what they're doing as the "right" thing.

For one of my novels, there is the main character, who just wants to vibe. But, you see, he gets turned into a werewolf, and there is a monster hunter that really, really wants to get him. So the MC's conflict with the antagonist is "I do not want to be capturd/die, and he wants to capture/kill me." The antagonist, meanwhile, doesn't really want to capture a werewolf, since that is a very dangerous thing to do, but he has to do it, or else [very bad thing] happens to him. He doesn't feel (too) guilty about this, though, because even though a werewolf is technically a person maybe, and killing a person is Wrong, it WILL kill people if no one does anything about it. So even though he's doing this for a selfish reason, he knows that this will also prevent a lot of future tragedy for others. So capturing/killing the werewolf is the Right thing to do.

You can think of the scope of the goals of the protagonist and the antagonist, these tend to be personal vs big picture. For another story, my MC is worried about how the main conflict will affect her, personally, and how that gets in the way of the things she wants to do. There is a "good" antagonist who wants the MC in the conflict, "for the good of everyone," i.e. uphold the current system. The MC doesn't like this, because the current system is Bad, she doesn't want to protect something that hasn't done anything good for her. The "bad" antagonist, though, wants to replace the current system with his system, which benefits him and his people, but it's still bad for the MC. Both antagonists don't really care what the MC wants, because they both are focusing on big-picture issues. They want to make the world "better," even if that means it's going to suck a lot for some individuals, but that's the price you pay for something like this. The MC's small-scale wants/needs are what neither big-picture antagonist wants, so there's the conflict.

Villains are great because they are relatable, or they are just so Not Normal that they are fascinating to look at. One of my favorite antagonists has no deeper meaning as to why she wants to watch the world burn, besides she gets bored very easily and this is something to do. There's no backstory or "wounding incident" or "I can fix her." She just is this way. But because her moral system is so weird, it affects everything she does, so you see it throughout the work. She's Insane, but still has her own rules and logic that she follows. That's why the characters end up in such a weird situation, that's how the world ends up destroyed in the way it is. She's so memorable and FUN because her mind is so different. She's completely unapologetic and knows she's evil and is inviting the MC to stop her, because that would be an interesting end to her story.

I guess you could look at all of this in a metafictional context, where she is "I am doing evil things solely because I am evil and like being evil" distilled to its purest form. Many works try to do this, but it doesn't work, since the villain ends up being very flat, there is no depth. They are just the villain because the writer needed someone to be the villain. But she views and thinks of things in such a bizarre way that she is memorable. She feels like a real threat because there is no way you can solve this problem with friendship. She's totally irredeemable. And, worse of all, she's making some pretty great points. So how are you supposed to fight against that?
 
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Norsebard

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:hi: Restcity

Durn, all I had to say has already been posted by our fellow AWers... :LOL:


Restcity said:
what helped you guys make your bad guy?

:unsure: Well, I most often write pulpish B-movie-style spec-fic, so you may need to take this with a pinch o' salt.

I always try to make my villains colorful so they're not just faceless silhouettes / gray bureaucrats. Not only is it expected in my typical genre(s), I use it as the hook for my own writing pleasure.

I need the villain to be a larger-than-life character with plenty of oily charm, ambitions of world-domination and an utter lack of inhibitions when it comes to enjoying the fruits of life. Bonus points will be awarded if the villain has a strong-armed enforcer for all the dirtiest of the dirty work.

If I can't wait to get back to such a character, I'm hoping it means the readers can't, either.


Incidentally, this approach bleeds over into how my favorite S&S heroes are portrayed as well. I love having cynical anti-heroes and/or redeemed or reformed villains as the MCs simply because they can have a dark edge to them that a 'pure' hero can't.


Norsebard