Aug 20, 2012

Archteypal Awareness - The Villain (Part 1)

I have a love/hate relationship with villains.  They are supposed to make you not like them (obviously) but if a villain is done right, truly follows the archetype, he/she will be someone the reader can't hate completely either. 

There are several different ways a villain can show up, but for today, let's just highlight the primary characteristics (in no particular order).

1. A villain is smart. Not necessarily brilliant in terms of IQ but smart enough to know for their master plan to work, there must be planning, it will take time and there are generally many steps. The villain also knows how to stay several steps ahead of the hero both in plan and execution, with the ultimate goal to cause pain and frustration before celebrating their success.

Any Psych fans out there?
2. A villain is patient.  This is what makes a good villain so good - he/she could have done horrible things to the hero but it wouldn't have allowed the plan to be executed the way they wanted.  Often, a hero will have a small victory over the villain (Sorcerer's Stone anyone?) but the villain will wait for other opportunities, often laughing at the meager attempts of the hero to defeat him/her. 

Seriously determined.
 3. A villain is damaged.  There is something that happened, something in the villain's past that makes him/her elicit sympathy from the reader.  Being all the way bad isn't believable, so a good writer will find a way to manipulate sorrow to make the reader not able to all the way hate the villain. 

Strangle's people and saves his son.
As I mentioned, there are several different archetypes that define villains - we'll hit more as this series progresses.

Who is your favorite villain?  Which one do you know you are supposed to hate, but can't help be intrigued by/love?





17 comments :

Jemi Fraser said...

I love villains too! It probably started with the Wicked Witch of the West for me. Darth Vader of course rocks, and the Borg! Reavers on Firefly. So many!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I'm glad Jemi mentioned the reavers. I love the bad guys who are helplessly forced on their path of misbehaving.
Villains who are fighting against change are very realistic.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Hmm . . .favorite villain . . .probably Darth Vader.
I love this post - villains definitely need to be patient, determined and damaged. I'm struggling with the last one with my novel. I know she's damaged, but I never put it on the page. Oops.

Andrew Leon said...

I don't know... I think Umbridge is one of the best villains ever, and I completely hated her. I mean, I HATED her. I wanted really, really bad things to happen to her. Way more to her than to Voldemort.

Leigh Covington said...

Yes! The villain is a fabulous role, and needs to be taken seriously. I just got done watching "The Dark Knight" again, and I really like the joker. Man, is he twisted! And brilliant.

Jessie Humphries said...

Oh man, I think I need some Villain help! I better stay tuned...

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Immediately, I thought of The Master (played by John Simm) in Doctor Who. He's broken and evil and quirky. He makes me laugh.

As he is poisoning the Members of Parliament with poison gas and one of them gasps "You're insane!" he grins behind his gas mask and nods, giving two thumbs up. Loved him in that moment.

Emily R. King said...

I love me a damaged villain. It almost makes their actions excusable...almost.

M Pax said...

Lando in Babylon 5 was a villain, but i was always rooting for him. And I always like the Riddler in Batman.

Lisa Regan said...

Awesome post! My favorite villain? So hard to say but I have never forgotten the villain in Dean Koontz's The Face. That guy was seriously scary.

Jess Stork said...

I think the best villains are ones that astound you with their perserverence. Daleks of Dr. Who anyone?

VikLit said...

Love villains and I love psych! ace choice ;)

Visiting from GUTGAA and following!

Jenny S. Morris said...

One of my fav villains I ended up loving was Volkoff on Chuck. He is good, then bad, then good again. There are scenes where he's wrestling with the good person inside that were priceless.

I also love, Vader, Hook, Mr. Smith, the White Witch, Wicked Witch... Haha I could go on and on.

Oh and for some reason my kids always want to be the villain. I think they look cooler to them. ;0)

Nicole said...

Go Psych! This is the second Psych post I've seen tonight. I do like really well-crafted villains. They're so wickedly fun to read.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Love this! So, so true. I think those are the qualities that make a hero especially likeble - and a villain especially scary.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

John Travolta is always such a great villain. He plays them bad, but always with a savior faire that makes him irresistible.

Angela Cothran said...

Psych fan here! *high five* I love a really complicated villain that makes the darker part of me root for them :)