What Makes A Good Bad Guy?

Proceed at your own risk.

WARNING:

THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE OLD WAYS.

PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

I was procrastinating performing extensive research for my novel on Pinterest earlier today, when I found this gem:

villain low self esteem

When I first saw it, I laughed. I mean, I laughed hard. Because my immediate thought to myself was, “Of course not, Erlik thinks he’s the best thing ever created!”

Then I went deeper into it. And I realised the whole reason he thinks so, is because he does have low self-esteem. He acts the way he does, because of crippling insecurity. He spends the entire novel hot on Mab’s heels. He swings from one emotion to another in the blink of an eye. He’s often shown drinking heavily (in the morning! What a lush). He’s infamous (in-universe) for his sexual exploits, and has the… *ahem* extensive progeny to prove it.

These can be symptoms of low self-esteem. Addictive, promiscuous, and chaotic personality traits. While he never displays anxiety attacks or a lack of self-confidence, he certainly has something about him that indicates he dislikes himself, and is projecting that dislike upon others to make himself feel better.

Well, mostly not that.

Loki has low self-esteem too. Yes, that’s my excuse for using his picture…

So is that what makes a good bad guy? (Okay, okay, I’ll say good villain from now on. Makes for less confusion) Well, I don’t think it is. Erlik has low self-esteem, yes, but he’s also funny, charming, sinister, manipulative, vindictive, and so deliciously wicked.

I… may be a little biased. #TeamErlik

Anyway. Is that what makes a good villain? ‘Nice’ qualities? Human qualities? Well, I don’t think so. I mean, I think they certainly help, but Sauron was a perfect villain, and he had no human qualities at all.

Good villains can be relateable. They can have something in them that makes regular, less-villainous people go “Oh, that’s like me! Wait, is that good?”

What about those villains who know they’re evil? The ones who relish in their darkness. The ones who torture and torment for fun. Lookin’ at you, Ramsay Bolton.

Ramsay

Couldn’t resist, sorry :3

There are villains who believe they’re the hero of the story. Villains who believe they’re doing what they’re doing for the greater good. I think Heath Ledger’s Joker has a little of that in him. He wants to unleash chaos for the people of Gotham for them to realise their full potential.

A good villain must be a foil. A contrast to the hero. An opposition to everything the hero stands for. Erlik is a Dark Prince, while Thomas (eventually) is a White Knight. Thomas has a strong moral high ground, whereas Erlik is underhand and plays dirty. Everything Thomas is or becomes, Erlik is ultimately the antithesis. In D&D terms, Thomas is Neutral Good, while Erlik is Chaotic Evil.

That’s what makes a good villain. Next time you’re writing, talk to your villain. Ask him/her/it what they’re fighting for. Ask them what they want. Does that goal conflict with what the hero wants? Do they believe they’re the hero of your story? Talk to them, and find out. Then you’re on the right path.

Now, go, writer! Write! Write like you’ve never written before!

Blessed be,

RK )O(

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Villains Are Better Than Heroes

As you’ve been reading my blog, or The Old Ways, or anything about or by me really, you may have noticed I have a slight soft spot for the villains of any story.

The Grim Reapers. The masterminds. The mad scientists and the fallen angels, the gods of death, the wicked goblin kings, the voracious dragons, and the evil wizards.

And I know what you’re going to say… “Oh, it’s because Tom Hiddleston plays Loki and you really fancy him. BOR-ING.” Well, no. It’s not that.

Well, mostly not that.

Well, mostly not that.

I think it all began when I was younger, and Disney gave their villains all the best stuff. The best songs, the best lines, everything. I’ve still got a CD of Disney Bad-Guy songs I sing along to. Blame Disney for making their villains so damn cool. The Evil Queen, I mean just look at that glare:

evil queen

Maleficent was so cool, she got her own movie! Yet even when Disney films weren’t at their best, I’m talking about the Disney Dark Age, the villains were incredible. Hades, Yzma, Ratcliffe, all funny and quirky and sassy. Don’t even get me started on Hades’s sass.

hades

Every medium of entertainment must have an element of conflict. Every good book, movie, or game has to have an engaging antagonist to move the story along. Whether they’re funny, dark, sinister, charming, misguided, or just basically on the wrong side, a good villain will always impede the hero from his ultimate goal.

lestat

A good villain is powerful. No one wants to read a story where the hero pokes the villain and he/she gently deflates like a flan in a cupboard. No. A good villain fights for what he/she wants. And fight to the death if necessary. Powerful people don’t like relinquishing their power, so they’ll do anything they can to keep themselves at the top of the food chain. It makes it especially fun if the villain has already fought to put themselves at the top of said food chain.

I always like a villain who has a sympathetic motive. Someone who believes they’re fighting for something good, like love or acceptance. It’s like, they want to be a good person, but they just don’t know how to do it. *cough*Loki*cough*. Sorry. I have a cold.

But yes, sympathetic motives. It casts the hero in an awkward situation. The villain is wanting to do something good, but is going about it the completely wrong way. Does the hero stop them? Kill them, even? Tension gets high, tempers overboil, people make mistakes and other people die.

mab

Heath Ledger’s Joker is an absolutely fantastic example of a sinister and mysterious villain. We know absolutely nothing about him. Who is he? Where did he come from? Are those stories about his abusive father and gambling wife true? What made him into the psychopath we see in The Dark Knight? No one knows. And it’s best that way. The Joker went out with a bang, and Heath Ledger’s performance cemented the image of a twisted, manical, almost gothic Joker into everyone’s mind.

the joker

And before you ask about Harry Potter, yes I prefer Bellatrix and Umbridge as villains over Voldemort. I find Voldemort to be quite… cartoonish. I know that sounds really stupid, but I find Bellatrix and Umbridge to be more believable and therefore more interesting, whereas Voldemort is more inhuman and monstrous. His humanity and empathy is gone, leaving only a beast. I’m not afraid of beasts. I’m afraid of the villains who talk to you, who can think, who are clever. They’re the best villains.

smaug

For more information on why dark is the best side to be on, check out this handy dandy guide to being evil HERE.

vader

So what is this all building up to? Why the title? Why am I obsessing over villains in this post? Because I’ve done it. I’ve succeeded in my original goal. Like any good villain, I planted the seeds of my plan a long time ago, and now I’m watching them blossom.

That’s right.

#TeamErlik is now a thing.

People who have read The Old Ways or are currently reading The Old Ways are all sympathising with Erlik. I’ve had people say to me “I understand why he’s doing what he’s doing” or “I feel really bad for him”, and even one instance of “I want to hug him”. Someone even referred to him as a “poor guy”!

I’m so happy you’re all falling under his spell. He’s disgustingly charming and you’ll all become Erlik fangirls before this series is over. Whoops. Did I just say “series”? …

bellatrix

Better get busy, I’m being pestered for the sequel after that devilishly tempting cliffhanger at the end of The Old Ways. But do tell me all about your favourite villain in the comments below! I’d love to know I’m not alone in my strange love of evil 🙂

Blessed be

RK )O(

rumple

Morgana

ursula

lucifer

tywin

 

EDIT: RK apologises for the prolific use of Gifs in this post. She has no willpower.