How to (Easily) Make a Good Villain

Story Elements

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Nylah Sirmons, Writer

Villains are fun. There I said it. I know at least one time you were kind of rooting for the villain to win instead of the hero. So how do people do it? How do they make compelling villains that we want to see prevail instead of heroes? These are two writing tips to help you make a good villain.

1) Good motivations. If you want your villain’s actions to be explained then a motivation is one of the best ways to explain them. It’s also really good if you want a sympathetic villain or a villain turned hero/antihero. 

Pro tip: Make your villain’s motivations make sense for their character/personality. If you have a motivation that doesn’t make sense then it can damage your villain’s character. 

For example: You have a villain that is always trying to steal a type of medicine from a big company. Turns out their motivations for villainy are to help their very sick sibling who they can’t pay medicine for. This motivation makes sense. A motivation that doesn’t make sense is: Your villain is going after a certain celebrity solely for the motivation that they’re bad. 

Now don’t get me wrong here, a villain could also not have a motivation that exists and they can be bad for no reason, that does work. Just don’t hype up this big reason for their motivation only for it to be “They’re just bad!’

2) Have a compelling personality for your villain. Villain personalities can range from: Family friendly comedy villain to cold, calculated and ruthless. Miles can vary on what you personally enjoy but that’s the range. For example, a majority of Disney villains. 

A lot of those villains have compelling personalities like Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians, who is obsessed with fur and has a diva attitude. She is also wicked and cruel (the lady wanted to skin puppies just because they had spots). Cruella is a fun villain to watch just because of how she acts. Two Disney villains who lean more into the family friendly comedy villain are Yzma from The Emperor’s New Groove and Hades from Hercules. Both are hilarious and that adds to their characters as villains. Hades is basically a car salesman and Yzma is (and I cannot stress this enough) just pure comedy whenever she is on screen.

You want to have villains of sorts of different personalities because that adds to the story, that’s what makes them memorable, that’s what makes them fun to read/watch.

I hope these two tips were helpful!