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VillainToday’s topic was submitted by QSF Member RW Urbina: “Do villains deserve redemption? Or how evil is too evil when writing the big bad? It’s something I’ve been struggling with during the last month.”

I have to admit, I’ve struggled with this little bit too. I have a hard time writing villains. I want all of my characters to be happy and friendly and nice.

And I realize that this can make for very dull characters. But I think it comes from my near-pathological desire to have everyone like me.

The other problem I often see is that many villains are not very complex. So often, they are very one-dimensional. Think Dr. Evil.

So my questions today – Have you written villainous characters before? How evil have they been? Do you think these characters deserve redemption? And how do you create a villainous character that is multidimensional? For readers, what are your favorite literary villains, and why?


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1 thought on “Buwahaaaahaaaahaaaa…”

  1. Yeah, I’ve written a few villains in my time, and I find them quite fascinating. Of course, the most obvious thing to start with, is a villain doesn’t think of themselves as a villain, and often have their own ‘moral’ code. Of course, it’s vastly different from what you or I would consider to be ‘moral’, but within their own internal landscape, what they do makes sense to them. That’s the way you have to approach them, by finding out exactly what makes them tick – however different it might be from the way the ‘moral’ character works – and write them that way, rather than a collection of cliche mannerisms intended to simulate ‘evil’. What for me gives the villain and extra level of complexity (and opens up the door to possible avenues of redemption) is while the hero can only operate within a narrow moral parameters (or he would be a hero anymore) the villain can step outside his own box, if he wants to. In other words, he can choose to be good, or to do something seemingly good – if it suits his purposes – making him extremely interesting to play with. Is there such a thing as an irredeemable villain? You would have to deal with that case by case. I think it depends what’s ultimately in the heart of the character. And only you (and they know that). Just some thoughts. Interesting topic!


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