forum How to Write Better Villains
Started by Deleted user
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people_alt 3 followers

Deleted user

Hey, everybody! You can contact me here if you want any help on your villains! This chat is simply for anyone looking to have antagonists that aren't bland, weakly written, and/or uninspiring.

CC Heart

Question: Why are you waiting for someone to ask instead of just writing out what you consider the most important things and then waiting for clarifying questions?

Deleted user

I wanted people to talk about their specific problems and ask unique questions about their own villains, and that list would've been far too long and general. Is that an issue? I thought it'd give more people the chance to feel involved in the chat.

CC Heart

I was just kind of hoping to get an overview and was bummed that there's nothing here yet because no one had spoken up yet.


@ReiniDays Here are some questions
1- How to know if your villain motivation is believable?
2- How to make a villain powerful but not undefeatable
3- How to defeat an invincible villain?
4- How to write a sympathetic villain but not make them seem pathetic?
5- How to make a villain intimidating?

Deleted user

I'm so sorry! Everything this week with both of my houses has been so crazy. A lot of nights, I've gotten home and had to study until I went to bed. I hope you can forgive me for being late.

  1. The way you know if a villain's motive is believable is by reasoning through it. One of the best ways to do this is by explaining it to someone else and asking for their honest opinion. Also, remember that villains are, for the most part, human beings. They're going to have desires and feel real emotions. A realistic villain's typically not going to want to kill people for fun unless they're crazy/lack impulse control, and a lot of the time that's overused. Think of what people in today's world would do, and, if you can, base their wrongdoings on that.
    • A poor, starved man robbing people for their money and prized possessions would be realistic because that happens in everyday life; it'd make for a gritty, desperate villain that'd relate with some of your readers
    • A little kid might have to make some bad choices if they're scared or unsure about what they're supposed to be doing
    • Not every villain is going to be doing something evil on purpose, either; a young woman killing people might actually be murdering them because she can sense they might commit a dangerous act themselves and wants to prevent them, which would go against the hero's sense of justice
    • An opposing force could be gathering an army to fight for, let's say, their people's survival because they're an endangered race
    • If your antagonist is more of a character with less than truly evil intentions, like a rival or a separate romantic attraction, then it'd be smart to remember that real people will do whatever; the "other girl" can't always be a blonde, mean cheerleader wearing ten pounds of makeup, so turn the tables by making it an independent, pleasant woman that could leave the reader and protagonist conflicted
    • A teacher or student might turn dangerous if they've learned something considered "forbidden", but want to preserve it
      It's always good to remember that your villains might be hurting others because they have literally no choice that guarantees the safety of their family/friends. People get forced into bad situations all the time, and sometimes they just make the "wrong" choice.
      Not every villain's going to be a cruel, wild monster who wears black.
      Also remember that heroes are villains to the antagonists. Things are just a simple flip away from being the alternate situation.
      If you want, you can share some villain motives in this chat and see if they're believable.
  2. If you want a villain to be powerful, you can do a lot of different things. You could give them a source of strength, like a magic stone with stored energy of souls that can be shattered, or make them stand with the gathered support of a quite dedicated, sharp alliance. If you're talking about a corporation, their crushing laws could be hard to dodge or made by the government. A villain that's a spirit could pool together the flowing energy of the dead to attack a surprised protagonist, a lone hunter could have been taming his unbeatable wolves and bears for years, or a teenager could harness electricity to cause major storms that could be stopped with a difficult (to find) shielding spell. All of these things would be hard to defeat, but not impossible. If you'd like more examples, I can give some!

  3. You defeat an invincible villain the same way you'd defeat any force that seems impossible to defeat: you either trap them away, take away what they love, or put a stop to their plans entirely.
    Examples of the First:
    • A heroine physically putting a slow, weakened villain in a prison cell with impassable wards
    • A team forms a magic ring around an evil wizard that sends them back to another realm (an impermanent plan)
    • Three friends confronting a rude teacher about their unfair tests and grading systems, therefore forcing them to fix a student's average
    • The hero rising up against an invincible government system and using a contract or written plans to trap them into their word and leaving the citizens alone
    • A young fighter freezing their villain in a freezing ocean, keeping them stuck under the ice
      Examples of the Second:
    • A supernatural team threatens an evildoer's daughter and makes them leave
    • The clever hero finds a mother monster's child and only gives them back once the creature goes back to their home planet
    • A sole vigilante snatches up a villain's best friend, only letting them live once the wrongdoer dies
      Examples of the Third:
    • A young person could halt the villain's actions by distracting them to be able to break their master weapon, leaving them defenseless
    • Putting a stop to their plan doesn't always mean hurting them. A creative, crafty protagonist could divide the villain's army in half, take both sides, and then arrest them after the war is won
    • An untouchable abusive relative could be stopped by a little sibling's successful mission to film them in the act
    • An invincible head of an empire could be brought down through an explosion that would destroy both a hero and their plans
      There are probably other ways as well, such as robbing them of their invincibility and striking, but those are a few people might find sort of useful.
  4. Sympathy and emotions for villains are sometimes hard to write without making them seem pathetic. To really get your reader and characters to connect with them, you either have to make them somewhat likable, a real (not wimpy) victim, give them something to lose, or make them a person that's not frustrating throughout the series.
    • A lovesick, desperate character commits a felony, but only for the benefit of their dying partner, who needs the money to continue their treatment
    • The villain turns out to have only used their dark magic because the light magic of the opposing team is infecting their clan
    • A torture (or war victim) with PTSD can't stop the evil from building inside of them and spilling out in the form of demons
    • Two sisters form a blood pact that's supposed to last forever, but one's death makes the other lash out at the police, who couldn't save her
    • A lovable, loyal, and charismatic antagonist that's only revealed as evil in the end and honestly can't remember hurting anyone in a mystery novel
    • The villain who fights for their cause for their hometown and, upon failing, asks the hero to kill them rather than facing the disappointment of their friends
      What to Avoid:
    • A "poor" man that killed a girl because she wouldn't go out with him; this is mostly just gross and unforgivable
    • The harasser that hurts people and then cries when he gets caught
    • The harsh, cold partner that begs their partner to come back to them because they "love them", which eventually gets the lead to fall back in love with them (despite cheating on them previously)
      Once again, you can leave your villain's situation here if you want. I'm always up for a discussion!
  5. What's really exhausting in the world of villains is when the person who's supposed to be "intimidating" is stereotypically crazy. The cackles and wild eyes are overdone. The things that are really interesting to see are the things that are unexpected and leave your readers on edge. If you really want something scary, you've got to play on fears.
    Examples/What Not to Do:
    • Don't make your villain wear all black unless they have a good reason to; you could make them wear some sort of simple armor that could protect them, but have a significant symbol on it that could be associated with something darker; instead of a skull, you could do a
    • If you wanted to make a non cliche way for your evil person to act, you could make them refuse to answer during an interrogation and smile off to the side- not overdone, just slightly creepy if they don't reply at all
    • Instead of making your villain drag a knife slowly across a character's throat or hold a gun to their head, make them do something scarier; for example, you could get them to force open your character's eye and poke something in, or you could always
    • Don't make your villain witty and funny/likable if you want them to be really intimidating because then they feel more chummy than evil; also, you want your villain to have a huge amount of power over the situation, so don't make them just leave if they're about to kill a hero; if there's a real feeling of threat, which you can establish through serious injuries or the sudden death of an important character that no one expects, then things get much more interesting and unpredictable
    • Using common fears in today's society, such as spiders, needles, heights, suffocation, drowning, etc., would be far better than useless threats

I'd love to talk about some more stuff if there's anything else you wanna discuss! Going into more depth is fine as well. You can also ask specific ones, if you want.


Hey I'm having trouble thinking of villain motives.

1st story:
In this story, the main villain starts out working for another villain. After their employer is murdered, they become in charge as they search for revenge. (In this story the main villain was working for their father, so that's why they want revenge so badly).

2nd story:
In this one, the villain has one of two viewpoints in the story, so I really need to justify their actions.
They're a prince, and they end up getting crowned king after the previous king fakes his death. The new king wages war on a neighboring kingdom, and wins. Throughout all of this, they've been come corrupted by their supernatural power. (The power's also kind of killing them at the same time).
Since they're dying, they seek out the MC, who can reverse the affects of their power.

Does that sound good or do I need to work on anything?

Deleted user


The first story revenge makes sense. It's emotional yet practical. If a mentor that's close to someone dies, it's reasonable to expect that the person might follow in their footsteps.

The second story needs to be a tiny hint more solid, I think. What exactly corrupts them about the power? Is it just side a effect, or is it also a combination of stress or greed? They obviously need to fix their health if they're dying. I don't know if you thought of this, but was it planned that they'd be 100% ruthless about it? It'd be a sort of "I'm going to live and nobody is getting in my way" deal. It'd be an interesting addition to their maliciousness that would make them seem intriguingly desperate. If you did already think of this, I believe it'd be good to place emphasis on it. People do crazy things in the name of survival, even cannibalism and murder.

I hope that made sense…? I'm typing this right before I fall asleep, sorry.


Thanks for all your help! I've been thinking more about the second villain, and I think I've made the character a bit better:
Prince and all that jazz.
He and the MC are actually related, and after the previous king fakes his death, the villain is put on the throne. The MC runs away from the castle/palace/whatever, attempting to start a sort of uprising against the villain, who's becoming more and more tyrannical as they search for the MC.

So before the main plot begins, there're some shenanigans with memory wiping. The MC remembers the villain as a kind brother that abandoned them before the plot, and the villain doesn't remember the MC at all. Maybe there could be something about "I already forgot you and I'm not ready to let you go again"????