The Secrets To Creating and Writing Compelling Villains

Creating and writing


Villains. They’re the bad guys of our stories who are devoted to wickedness. They have specific goals and will stop at nothing to reach them. Are you as driven to write them as compelling characters?

The hero of the story is a stumbling block for the villain. He’s in the way, therefore the villain must do all he can to eliminate the him. An antagonist (someone who merely opposes the hero) simply makes waves for the hero.

Villains are used to create tension in a story. They also provide much-needed hurdles for the hero to overcome during his journey.

Unlike antagonists, villains are sociopathic, narcissistic, and can be quite unpredictable. And they often use fear to get their way.

Villains must be layered characters—three dimensional. And they absolutely must have a reason to do what they do. Do not make your villain a mindlless killing machine!

Think of real-life villains… What makes them so creepy, and scary? Yep…they’re real.

When should you first bring your villain to the page?

Readers must be able to identify with the villain. Perhaps he has an interest in animals, or children. Maybe he’s a devoted church member or the hero’s letter carrier. Maybe the villain is the babysitter for the hero’s children.

Villains are extremely motivated.


Don’t go “villain crazy!” Over the top villains are unbelievable.


Those were just a few basic guidelines for creating a compelling villain. If all else fails you could follow a simple recipe I concocted. It goes something like this (Of course, like all good cooks I’ve kept a few secret ingredients to myself).


3 replies
  1. MaryQuinn
    MaryQuinn says:

    Used to be a time when the villains could be all evil & the hero all good. People don’t want to buy that anymore.

    Love the villain recipe, too.

  2. jennymilch
    jennymilch says:

    Wow, that villain recipe is positively nauseating. Seriously. You must’ve cooked up a great villain!

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