Maggie Mitchell

CRAFT: Creating a villain you love to hate

Writing Romantic Suspense: Part 3

Creating a villain you love to hate

Unlike a straight romance, where the main focus is the heroine and the hero, in romantic suspense the antagonist takes on greater importance. The plot often revolves around what the villain has done or is planning to do. Without him/her/them, there is no suspense. That element of evil is what makes for a successful villainous character but we also have to understand his or her motivation for the character to meld with the story.

This pseudo-sympathetic villain is often the one we feel sorry for because we see how easily the human mind can be corrupted by circumstances. This is also the character that is so charismatic, they can make being evil appear seductive.

For example, think of the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera. Even though he was a villain and definitely up to no good, readers around the world relate to him because they understand his conflict and motivation. Another favourite example is Dracula. Who isn’t seduced by his hypnotic eyes and the spell he casts on his victims? You can see similar character traits in some redeemed heroes who started out as villains. I know I love Kresley Cole’s Lothaire and for many of her books he was a vicious villain.

The other type of villain is the one who has absolutely no discernible redeeming features. This character is pure evil and as such adds considerably to the chilling plot line. We want to toss him in jail and throw away the key.

We want him dead!

In the context of the story only of course. This increases the tension of the story and the danger to both main characters, immediately upping the stakes and intensifying the romantic elements.

EXERCISE

Think about a villain who you loved to hate…one who made an impression…why do you feel this way?

It could be one who creeped you out, or one you felt sorry for…or you were appalled
by…enquiring minds want to know!

One Thought on “CRAFT: Creating a villain you love to hate

  1. Villains tend to be more interesting than heroes, and once you know their motives, it’s hard not to feel sympathy. It is really difficult to produce a good villain! Thanks for this post.

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