Monday, September 1, 2014

BACK STORY TIME / Creating a Fantastic Villain I

        Gather around the hearth, dears. Today's story is a Back Story. Or, rather, the importance of it.
We focus a lot on the hero's story. The hero's back story. The hero's life.
But...what about the villain's life? What about the villain's story and past? Do we incorporate that into our story?

  • Why does our villain do what he does? Is he just plain evil? Why is he evil? Somebody doesn't just wake up one day and decide they're going to be evil. I mean, some people might, but for the most That'd just be weird. 
  • Tragedy, loss, heartbreak, revenge...what fuels your villain? Good villains have depth. They have a life, they have a story. 
  • I like to look at Loki as one of my main villainous inspirations. His back story, his life, his motivations (in the Marvel movies). What drives him to do what he does? Frankly, it all started when Odin breathed Asgardian breath onto a little Frost Giant baby...making him...Asgardian. It's all really cool and kind of confusing and weird, but it's all a main part of the story. Loki grows up in the shadow of Thor's hero greatness. Then he learns he's not even Odin's son. He's a Frost Giant. That's pretty awful.

Now, there's a lot more to Loki's story and I would go further in, but it's not really the topic of this post. That was just a small example.
Okay. Try to stop thinking about the overwhelming sadness of the poor alien.

  • Back story is what often drives the will-be villain to being a villain. Somebody who grows up being hurt and hurt and hurt throughout their life might handle it good or bad. Villains obviously handle it badly. Somebody who is brainwashed (why were they brainwashed??), abused/tortured, or lied to--how do they handle that? (Obviously those who are brainwashed don't have much of a choice, if any). Or is there another reason? Does your villain just love to hurt people? Why do they love to hurt people? There has to be a reason. Even when it comes to aliens, methinks. 
  • My main villain, whose name shall not be mentioned here, has a tragic back story. None of h(is/er) friends know about the suffering this person went through until they cracked. Abused physically, verbally, etc. Nobody helped and they felt stuck. Hated the world, hated life, hated God. Now (s)he just wants to protect angel of a mother and get revenge. 

There's more to my villain than that, but I'm trying to not make this an extremely long post.
But when we understand a villain's back story (or anybody's for that matter), if often gives us a glimpse into their soul. Their current beliefs, reasoning, motivation, values, (EVERYTHING) is going to in some way be affected by their past.
There are a few things you should ask/keep in mind/answer when creating your villain:

1. What family structure did the villain grow up in? (A lot of back story starts at home)
ie: X grew up in a family of four. His mother was an alcoholic and more often than not, came home swearing and being physically abusive to X and his two siblings. X's oldest sibling picked on X until X broke. X's younger sibling clung to X. X's father was never around, and when he was, he was never mentally there or he was always fighting with X's mom. (And how will these things affect X?)

2. What was a normal day for your villain?
A normal day for X was being scared of being hit, yelled at, or being taken from his home. Though he was constantly being abused, he still loved his family, somehow (yes, this is possible). He would go to school and pretend he had a normal family to go home to. After school, he'd pick up his little brother from school and go to the library. He couldn't bear to be at home. Later, he would get physically abused because he didn't come home from school right away. At night, he would listen to his mom yell drunken phrases and argue with his dad. (How will this affect X?)

3. What is the worst thing that has happened to your villain?
4. What if the worst thing that your villain has done? 
5. What is it that your villain does that's so bad?
6. Why did your villain go off the deep end compared to somebody who's gone through the same thing but conquers what's happened to them and turns it for something good?
6. Why is your villain so bad? 
(Remember, there HAS to be a reason of some sort...even if it's a weird reason like:
B adored funnel cakes. Until that fateful day...October 8...the day the clown at the fair stuffed his face into her freshly powdered funnel cake. Now B hates clowns and funnel cakes--she's out to destroy all the clowns in the world and put all the funnel cake businesses out (There must be some psychological damage inflicted by the clown here, otherwise it's kind of extreme...unless B was already heading off the deep end...or this has happened multiple times...maybe a hundred or so?).

No pure evilness. If you want a developed, deep villain that people can connect with and understand, there needs to be reasons.

  • You really have to get into the mind of your villain and find out what makes them tick. That doesn't mean becoming your villain. Please don't do that. That would be crazy and WEIRD. (Unless you're cosplaying your villain for some...reason? o_o still weird...).  
  • But, don't forget to leave some things up to your villain. Let them choose! My villain decided he/she is obsessed with pink donuts that have candy sprinkles on them. (That's another post, though.) 

Obviously there's more that goes into creating a villain than this post that delves more into creating a back story. If nothing else remember:

1. How does the back story affect your villain?
2. What are your villain's reasons for doing what they do/being evil?

Let me know in the comments:
+ What do you like to keep in mind when creating a villain's back story? Is there anything really big that I've missed?
+ Do you have any suggestions for another "Creating a Fantastic Villain" post?
+Otherwise, please comment anyway! I love to talk to people! (especially online because I'm horrible at formulating sentences most of the time when talking to people in person. I really should work on that.)

(photo thanks to stuff on pinterest...and pixlr editing)


  1. Rachel,
    I loved this post! :D It was very brilliant! I think that the villain is one of the most important characters in a story. This post was very helpful, indeed. :) And I'm the same way about people-- I seem to be able to interact with them much better online. I should work on my people skills, as well. ;) Good luck with your book! Are you planning on posting that on your blog, as well?
    God bless!

    1. Megan,

      I'm glad you enjoyed this post! I enjoyed writing it!
      I won't be posting my book on here. The first one is published on Amazon, so I think it would be kind of weird to post the second one randomly (I'm also halfway finished with it). But if I start any other stories aside from this series, I might post on the blog!
      I'm looking forward to reading your book! Definitely edit, edit, edit. SO important...
      My mom helped me edit my book and I didn't look it over again after she did, and there are a few mistakes we missed as far as grammar and weird repeats goes. So after I published it (without looking it over), I've gone back and reread most of it and continually *facepalmed*. Sigh.
      But, for the next book, I'm going to let it sit for a bit before trying to edit/look at it.

      Rachel :)


Please leave a comment! I love to talk with fellow people!