Tuesday, January 17, 2012

"How do you hide an island?" "You've head of the thousand islands?" "Yes." "Count them next time." "You don't mean-" "Yes! A thousand and one!"

 What makes a good villain? Who is the man or woman who, even hearing their name, fills you with fear though you've not seen or heard of them for years? Who is the one who makes you want to hide under your bed, who makes you cringe in fear when you see anyone who looks remotely like them?

 There are all kinds of villains in the writing world. There are the funny, dumb kind. Or the funny, not completely dumb. (I will be taking most of the villains for this post from movies. Mostly because most of my favorite villains are from movies.) Fitting into this category is Sigfried from "Get Smart." He isn't the type of villain you would run and hide from, in fact he is the sort you might pick as a favorite character because he is so funny. He can take something that is normally very frightening and make you laugh. His ploys to take over the world are so insane and crazy you know they are impossible and just plan funny. After all, creating a huge magnet on an island to pull in the whole navy is unbelievable. So, while this type of villains are still considered villains they are not frightening.

 There are the villains who, it is rather unclear if they are evil or not. Falling into this category you could put Loki from "Thor," as well as Boromir from, "The Lord of the Rings." These men do evil things, Loki takes over his father's kingdom and Boromir tries to take the ring from Frodo. But there is more to them then this. Loki is taking over the kingdom in an attempt to gain his father's love (unwilling to believe he already has it since he is not his blood son.) Boromir attempted to take the ring in the hopes it would save his city. So, though they were on the wrong side their intentions - at least at first - could be considered good. This makes a very interesting twist in the stories and in the characters themselves.

 There are also the villains who are just trying to protect someone. If you have ever read, "The Last Sin Eater," or seen "The Village," you might know what I am talking about. These, "villains," just wanted to keep their families safe, at first. The men in "The Village," didn't want to have their children live in a world full of violence, or they wanted to protect their families from their own pasts. The same can be said of the men from, "The Last Sin Eater," though later this man truly did turn into a villain, going so far as to kill to keep his way of life from changing. So, these "villains," can be frightening at first, then when you get to know them you start to wonder if they were the bad guys at all.

 Then, of course, we must not forget the truly evil villains. These are the ones who do evil things just to be evil. Who will stop at nothing to get what they want. I am certain as you read this a villain pops up into your mind. Some of the ones that I think about are Jadis and Miraz from "Narnia." Rastapoppolus (I am not sure if that is the correct spelling or not) from, "Tintin," or Sauron from, "The Lord of the Rings." These are the villains that fill you with fear, that make you want to hide under the covers and never come out, that make you glance nervously outside, fearing they might be peering in your window.

 However, what makes them scary. Why might one person fear the White Witch but not the Black Riders when they seem so much more frightening then her? I think the key lies in the person themselves. For me the most frightening bad guy ever is from, "Star Trek, the Wrath of Khan." Even now I am scared of Khan. I think he is the creepiest villain that ever lived, far more so then the Black Riders with their sniffing and hooded, ghost heads. Why? The answer is simple. I am not scared of ghost, but I am terrified of a bug crawling inside of me. Therefore, it is Khan with his stick bugs in people's ears that frightens me, not ghost men who chase hobbits about - though the Black Riders are frightening.

 The key to creating a frightening bad guy in writing is creating a man you are scared of. If you are frightened of him it will show in your writing and very likely your reader will feel the same fear. The villains in my books use poison, needles, and spiders to kill the heroes. For all I know they probably look like Khan as well - I've not seen the movie for years so cannot tell you what he looks like, though I am sure his face still haunts my memories and he wiggles his way into all my books somehow. Because, you must admit, that one villain you are terrified of is never going to leave you alone. He will always find a way to come back and remind you of his existence just to watch you cringe in fear. It is his greatest hobby, after all!

 Who is the villain who still haunts you? And who is your favorite villain of all time, and which type is he or she? 



  1. Ok... So my first thought when you asked, "What villain makes you want to crawl under your bed?" was, "Veggietales! You were lying in your bed... You were feeling kind of sleepy... But you couldn't close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.... Were those eyeballs in your closet? Was that godzilla in the hall? There was something big and scary casting shadows on the wall..."
    Oh my word, Kahn is such a creepy bad guy! I absolutely hate it when he puts those bugs in people's ears. I always have to skip that part of the movie 'cause I hate it.
    Hmmm, I've never thought of making my bad guys people that I'd be scared of... That's a great writing tip!
    My favorite villain.. Well I do like the Black Riders. They're pretty cool. I also like Darth Vader. And also the Borg from Star Trek Next Generation. All three are probably people who would stop at nothing to get what they want.
    I like villains that you can't really tell if they're bad or not. For example, my friend wrote a novel and her villain was fighting for the right things but was going about it in the wrong way. It made the story very interesting and made me think.

    P.S. I replied to your comment on my blog but I'll re-post it here so you don't have to go searching for it... (it's under the post "Wonderful Music" if you do want to see it on my blog, though).

    I love those Michael Buble songs! Especially "Everything." I've heard of Josh Groban and have heard some of his Christmas music but none of his regular stuff... He's got a gorgeous voice too!
    Which book did you read about Lewis? The one I read was "Christian Heroes Now and Then." Those are such good books.
    I actually saw Tintin again tonight! It was just as good - if not better - as the first time I saw it! You know Cutts the Butcher from the books? He even makes it into the movie! When Snowy is chasing Allan's car in the beginning, he passes a window that says, "E. Cutts. Butcher." I was like, "Oh my word!! It's Cutts the Butcher!" It was really weird because my dad and I were the only ones in the theater.
    I recently put the first series of Sherlock on hold on Netflix! I can't wait to watch them! I've been watching the trailers for the episodes and they look so good. They look really funny. (I'm adding this now - I saw the first episode! It was on TV on Sunday night. SO. Good! I liked Mycroft. He was funny. And my absolute favorite quote was, "Look, I've got a blanket!")
    Wow, those are the books that I have yet to read as well! Although while looking ahead in "His Last Bow" I couldn't help but read the story of the "Dying Detective." It was really good... I can't wait to read the stories from Holmes' point of view as well. They will be different, for sure!
    I was just thinking the same thing the other day. Movies are coming out so much quicker! I remember when you used to have to wait a year or so for a movie to come out on DVD.
    I usually write adventure fiction. Right now I'm re-writing/editing a novel which I wrote for NaNoWriMo 2011. It's the sequel to a novel I wrote over the summer. They are about what happens to the characters in Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" after the play is finished. You write (let's see if I can get this name right....) Steampunk right? I hope I got the right name... I don't know much about it but it sounds interesting!
    Oooo banjos are so cool! I bet bagpipes would be super fun to play. I've always loved the sound they make.
    Classics are so... classical! The stories are from the heart (like you said in your blog post) and are just so much better. They're so much cleaner and less focused on "true love" and more focused on the actual relationships of people.

  2. Hmmm. I'm actually having trouble coming up with my scariest villain. But it's always the extremely ugly ones that really frighten me. Or the ones that are so calm about the evil they do.

    Have you ever seen the TV show Firefly? The men that come in pairs, two by two...hands of blue... They really, really freaked me out. The way they could snuff out a life in a matter of a few very painful seconds, and sit there and watch, repulsed me.

    The supernatural villains scare me, as well. I can't think of any specific ones off the top of my head, but it's always the movies or books about the supernatural that really freak me out, more than just plain violence. That ability to get inside someone's head -- ugh. *shudder*

    My favourite villain though -- ooh, that's just as hard because there are so many that I like. Those ambiguous characters -- like Boromir -- really appeal to me because of the moral struggle they face.

    Hmmm. I'm going to say Count Olaf from A Series of Unfortunate Events, or Darth Vader. First ones that come to mind.


Do you want to leave a comment? Come on, it will be fun. I want to get to know you and know why you stopped by my site. Don't worry if you don't know what to say, I will reply with something fun. Do you want to leave a comment? It doesn't have to be a long one.