Currently, I’ve been reading Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy in between reading other books. Because You Love to Hate Me is a compilation of 13 short stories featuring 13 different villains written by 13 different YA authors with ideas given by 13 influential booktubers. This book takes a look at the stories behind villains, showing them in a more humane light. So I wanted to take this chance to go over why your villain is so important to your story as well as why your readers might enjoy a more fully fleshed out antagonist.
To tell the truth, the antagonist is just as important as the protagonist in any story, the only thing is that the story is generally being told from the protagonist’s point of view. The main parts of any story is conflict. And this conflict comes from the opposing goals of your protagonist and your antagonist. I rememeber reading somewhere that the antagonist is in fact, not an absolute reflection of the protagonist. Instead, the antagonist can have many similarities with the protagonist. The only difference between the two characters would be that the villain takes things a bit to far, that the villain is a mere possibility of what the protagonist could turn out as, blurring the line between good and evil.
So now that I’ve briefly gone over the importance of villains in your story, how do we make them fully fleshed out? The simple answer: treat them like any other character. For example, you would give your antagonist a goal and motivation just like any other character. A goal and motivation besides being evil. No one really wants to be evil. The way I see it, villains are more focused on the goal than what they do to get them. For them, the end justifies the means. And as they progress, the means just happen to get more and more severe and costly.
One example of this could be where a villain is trying to keep his/her child safe, but this child has the potential to be dangerous. The protagonists’ goal would be to either kill the child or do something in order to negate it’s potential to be dangerous, which would eventually be at odds with the so-called-villain’s goal to keep them safe. Except, instead of trying to reason things out with the protagonist, maybe the antagonist goes a little too far, taking the protagonists’ loved ones hostage in order to scare the protagonist into leaving them and their family alone. Perhaps they take it a little further, defeating the protagonist so that they don’t have much chance of hurting his/her child again. And so the cycle goes, each time pulling the antagonist further away from what we call good.
It’s important to remember that villains should be realistic, because that’s one of the things that makes them truly scary, the possibility that the protagonist or even the reader themselves would become like them.
If you are doing NaNoWriMo right now, I wish your the best of luck! I hope this post helps you in writing your villains and your should definitely check out Because You Love to Hate Me: 13 Tales of Villainy. Tell me what your think in the comments!