A great villain is an integral part of a great story. The fella, or gal, you love to hate.
However, the villain has to be great, and believable, and must have motives to do what he is doing. I have an old Ray Stevens song that a high school art department illustrated. Along Came Jones, But in this case I wanted to show the villain, Salty Sam. Also I just want to have a little bit of fun with this post as well.
Salty Sam, an early villain from the first grainy black and white silent films. Complete with the moustache, and evil laugh. Salty Sam worked for the quick short, but for a novel, or series Salty Sam doesn’t work.
My fellow AQC Speculative Fiction friends were chatting and we were kicking around villains. Okay, kicking around the topic of villains, not the villains themselves. Evil just to be evil, aka Salty Sam, doesn’t work.
My own experience with this was in our writing marathon last summer. I had the chapter where my villain was introduced. Everyone who gave me feedback told me he was just flat out too evil. In other words, I had written a Salty Sam. So I had, and still have, a lot of rewriting and work to do to give the bad guy redeeming traits.
The antagonist of the story needs to have motive, reasons for doing what they are doing. Why did Salty Sam want the dead to the ranch? Was he planning to build an orphanage?
Spec Fic is vast. Aliens want earth and kill everyone. Why? What motivates the Aliens? What motivates the monsters? Why does the Dark Lord want to enslave all the elves? Power? Dominion? Resources? To live? Will the bad guys change and turn good? Is the Good Guy really the Bad Guy? Conflict, the center of any great story.
Without giving any spoilers I am thinking about the new Spider Man movie. The villain was really a good guy, with great motives. Make the villain very interesting. A good villain makes for a great hero.