A look at writing villains in fantasy


Yes i know lately I have been using my blog here for a bit of a rant fest but I think i will get back to talking about writing.  In Fantasy we have a lot of tropes to play with.  One of the biggest of course is the villain of the piece.  Some of the greatest bad guys of all time have come from this genre as we all know.  Be it the Ice Queen from Narnia, Voldemort from the Harry Potter books or Sairon from the Lord of the Rings, they are big, bad and evil.

In fantasy you can have your villain be from any number of races.  That is one of the reasons that fantasy is such a strong genre.  True fantasy villains are evil to the bone.  They do things that strike at the heart of goodness in ways beyond understanding.  They prey on the weakness of the common man and of the hero.  The battles are both outside of your hero and inside, for the best evil villains will have something that makes them compelling to the hero that is fighting them.

Now I have written a lot of villains over the years.  Some of them are trope, I admit that, but I hope that not all of them are.  While Samuel Elvenbane from my Saga of Loralil Greyfox is the villain you would expect, the Orc, there are lessor villains in that duology of books that touch on some of the darker things that haunt the human and nonhuman mind.

In Traveler I wrote a female villain.  One that let the darkness inside herself overtake her.  As an elf, most would think she would be good but each and every race of fantasy has its heroes and villains.  Having an elf who has decided that so called half breeds are toys to be tortured and destroyed was both hard and fun to write.  The back story was filled in as the story evolved and we must remember that every hero and every villain has a back story.

In Fall Into Nightmares yet again I did a female villain.  This time it was desire that led to my villain becoming who she was.  Desire for control over the object of our desire is something that can easily turn a good being into a villain.  Powerful emotions will create powerful creatures.

With the evolution of the genre we are seeing more and more female villains but also seeing more and more strong villains of both sexes.  In the early days of the genre your villain was generally of two types.  The evil warlord or the evil sorcerer.    They are of course still used but now we no longer accept a villain that is one dimensional.  We want to know the back story to our villains.  We want to know what made them a villain and what their true goals are.  Yes, Voldemart wanted to rule the world in the Harry Potter universe but he also was dealing with that difficult thing known as racism.  He was of course a mudblood, as that universe uses.  One parent was a magician and the other was not.  Now in that fun culture you have those who rise to the occasion, like Hermoine did and then you have those who don’t.  By angrily denying his human parent he became the villain.

In one of my WIP I have been tossing between two villains.  The first one is a man who desires power.  He was damaged during a raid by the good guy organization and now he has really one major goal.  To control and destroy the heroine of the piece.  He is willing to go to any length to get his revenge.  In this case he went to summoning a demon.

Now demons have been portrayed as both good and bad guys lately but I decided to stick with the bad for Whether to Save Face or Family.  The demon has the same goal as any evil demon.  He wasn’t free reign to stay in the human world and to in fact open the gates between the worlds open and take over the world.  That is what they do right?  It has worked.

So before I go crazily overboard on this, let us just realize that writing a villain can be as complex and interesting as writing your hero.  Don’t make them two dimensional.

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