As some of you may know I have a soft spot for villains 🙂 In Avengers/Thor I was always ‘team Loki’, the Walking Dead I liked Shane and then the Governor, I could go on… Now, there’s a slight possibility that that Tom Hiddleston/David Morrissey might have something to do with the obsession but I shall choose to believe that it is more because of the complex nature of the characters.
People aren’t black and white, villains are rarely ‘purely’ evil – if they are then they tend to come across as dull and one-dimensional. With the odd exception then if they don’t have valid reasons for doing what they do then the character simply comes across as unbelievable.
I think it’s important to also be aware of this in your own writing. It’s not enough for your villain to simply do something evil, or to obstruct your hero in some way. You need to explore your character – why do they do what they do, what’s their motive and reasoning behind it, what has made them the way they are? Are they reaching for their own goals, escaping their dark history or even looking out for the ones they love. When you start to explore your villain as a complete character, when you put yourself in their shoes, then it’s hard not to start to emphasis with them – to see the shades of grey.
Personally, I probably get too attached, in two books I have written now when I go back to do a sequel than it’s the villains who are clamouring for their own story to be told. Are they redeemable? Well, I have no idea yet – but hopefully the fact that I do want to find out means they at least aren’t suffering from the dreaded ‘one-dimensional villain’ problem.
Have a good weekend x