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Create a Unique Take to Present a Villain

by B.J. Robinson

Want a memorable villain? When I wrote Last Resort I created one Amazon reviewers left comments about. Author Nike Chillemi said, “This is a novel where the reader can not only connect with the heroine and hero, as would be expected, but there’s also connection with the villain. This is a unique take on how to present a villain and an inventive one.” How did I create Fred and portray why he made his choices and his background, so readers wouldn’t be bored?

Create an evil character people will love to hate, one who has feelings and emotions that cause him to think and second guess. How would readers glimpse the “real” Fred, the one who wasn’t all bad, the one with some conscience?

Readers connect with characters in a novel through dialogue, feelings, thoughts, and actions. The bad guy must be believable and memorable. Books with multiple viewpoints allow readers to connect with the villain. I wrote short scenes to illustrate his thinking and background, actively portraying his own point of view. Deepen suspense by illustrating the villain’s logic by getting inside his head. When I received wonderful comments from readers about him, I knew I’d handled my villain well.

Characters must be three-dimensional, not all good or evil. While readers come away thinking of Fred as pure evil, there are times when you see he does have a conscience, and he has what might be called a fatal weakness, his love of Faith. Coupled with his background, his weakness causes him to make poor choices and ruin his life. Put a new spin on a villain. Allow him to have a voice. Readers will remember him, because the villain won’t be a cardboard character, but a memorable antagonist instead, when you show why he believes his actions are justified and rational.

Author Naomi Musch said I created sparkling chemistry between the hero and heroine, but she commented about Fred. “I always like a good villain. Last Resort may be a sweet romance, but the villain is pure evil. He’s a dangerous ex-fiancé of the heroine who simply won’t let her go. But even though he’s dark pretty much through and through, Robinson helps the reader connect to him by giving glimpses into his psyche. One of my very favorite lines in the book is in a scene where we are watching his mind at work. Through the eyes of Faith Roussell, the story’s protagonist, we learn that ‘his voice would crack ice, and his laugh was that of a madman.’ I loved that.”

Author Dolores Ayotte commented about Fred, Faith’s abusive ex-fiancé. “He is a very elusive and focused stalker. What will it take to stop this jealous man who is determined to win Faith back? He is like a driven maniac chasing after his prey. What will be the Last Resort and how far will Fred go to get his way?” The protagonist and hero’s character compares and contrasts to the villains and strengthens the plot.

B. J. Robinson is a member of the Christian Writers Guild and graduate of Long Ridge Writers Institute. She is a multi-published, prize-winning author of Christian romantic suspense, Last Resort and Southern Superstitions. When she’s not writing, she’s reading and reviewing books on her blog.

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10 Responses to Create a Unique Take to Present a Villain

  1. Una Tiers says:

    Great pointers.
    Una Tiers

  2. I found this post very informative. It gave me new way of thinking. thank you very much.

    Glenda Parker

  3. Congratulations Barb…Last Resort is a great book. Thanks for quoting me in this article. I appreciate it! :)

  4. Thanks for mentioning me.

    It wasn’t so much that I loved to hate Fred. He scared me on some deep level. He was relentless. He thought nothing of taking away from the heroine her most prized things in life, stripping them from her one by one. And yet, there was a glimpse into him as a real person.

  5. Diana Prusik says:

    It’s so true, Barbara, that in good fiction, even villains need to have depth of character. We’ve all seen stereotypical bad guys in books and films, but authors who add complexity by providing ways for readers to sympathize with villains, even on miniscule levels, create more interesting stories. We don’t want readers to root for villains to succeed in evil endeavors, but when we show glimpses of their human side, stories seem more authentic. Rarely in reality do we find someone who represents pure evil. Most heinous criminals have at least one redeeming quality. In Fred’s case, this is his love for Faith, even if his love has gone awry.

  6. Thanks for the feedback. It’s very much appreciated. Nike, thanks for clarifying. Blessings, BJ

  7. Naomi Musch says:

    Good post, Barb! That’s SO important, that we “glimpse the real” villain, the one that’s haunted by a bit of conscience or some other humaness. Congrats!

  8. Nan Jones says:

    Barb, Your characters are so easy to connect with. Thank you for sharing your gift with us. I look forward to your up and coming novels. Bless you!

  9. Rita Garcia says:

    Barb, I enjoyed your strong characterization in both of your novels. Great post!

  10. Naomi, thanks for your comment about the villain. Nan, I’n so glad you were able to connect with my characters. Rita, I’m glad you enjoyed my strong characterization. Thanks so much for your kind comments. Blessings, BJ Robinson