Is Writing An Evil Character Easy?
Is Writing An Evil Character Easy?
The answer is yes and no. How easy an antagonist will be to write will all depend on your storyline. The more complex your story is, the more difficult the antagonist has to be.
Every story needs to have a protagonist and an antagonist, good vs evil, otherwise, let's face it, you don’t have a story. Even in stories with just one character, for example, an adventure story, the protagonist still has to come across obstacles. In a way, the adventure becomes the antagonist to keep the story interesting. Another example would be a person who has duality with their minds, psychological instability, in a story like this the antagonist is a part of themselves.
What it comes down to is balance. The more energy you put into something the more energy you will get out of it. Same with the antagonist. You don’t want to have an intricate story just to have the antagonist do a few unfavorable things, you want to make a lasting impression, something that keeps your readers locked in and wanting to read more. You want your story to put them in a trance into another world other than their own and the only way to do that is with an interesting and complex antagonist.
So how to accomplish this
If you have a toned-down story -
Something slower-paced but still captivating, you want to have your antagonist equally toned down and captivating. For example, you can’t bring in a fierce Terminator-like character into pride and prejudice like story can you?
If you have an intellectual story or a mystery-suspense story -
You want to make your character equally suspicious and cryptic. These stories would be a great opportunity for psychological antagonists.
A great example of this is from a movie called The Prestige. It’s a psychological thriller that will leave you questioning the details of the movie long after you have seen it. The author also hides the antagonist well, figuring out who the antagonist is as the story unfolds. But it’s twofold because as time goes on, people change. They can grow to be better or worse human beings. Also, they can have different levels of adversity. For example, in the Harry Potter movies, Severus Snape was not always evil in every scene nor every moment of his storyline, he was a misunderstood character, and only, in the end, did you understand his backstory and why he became who he is and why he did what he did.
You will also have to determine if you want your antagonist to be known right away to your audience as evil or to delay it, change them, or even make it mysterious and have your readers come to the conclusion on their own. Your evil character could also, dare I say… change for the better.
If you have a fast-paced story -
You will have to make your antagonist equally fast-paced. Think of the movie Avatar, Rat Race, Fight Club. Their antagonists are straight to the point, talk firmly, and usually have confidence out the butt. They may not have to move fast until later in the movie but the communication is what drives it at first. Usually, in fast-paced stories, there is a big ending, a build-up to a great finale.
After determining the genre of your story and the pace you would like to set it at, now you have to focus on the characters themselves and how their mind works.
An evil character has to have a great protagonist as its equal. Remember the balancing effect. They have to play off of each other. Like in a game of chess, one makes a move the other counteracts. For this, you have to know a little bit about psychology.
I like to say that all fights, arguments, disagreements, and so forth, are all fights with yourself. A mirror almost. Because if something was really not worth your time or did not trigger you to recourse, then technically it’s not something you even care about at all, and you’ll be on your merry way like nothing even happened.
There’s an old saying, “when two people are in a confrontation, they both are wrong.” Because if one was right, there wouldn’t be a fight to begin with.
This is how you have to apply your character in a way that both will be triggered by something they both equally care about.
All evil characters have a physiological trait in common called apathy as well as other evil personality traits, but apathy - a lack of caring is the fundamental one. Empathy for the hero, apathy for Villain. Which trait or traits is your villain going to possess?
- Personality Traits
- And many more
When you find the dark trait or traits since most people that are evil possess more than one negative trait. Usually, three at least called the dark triad, but when you figure out the traits you want and what those traits’ attitudes and actions correlate with. Then you can better understand your character and where you want your character to begin and ultimately end up in your story.
Finding the Voice of your Character
Find your villain’s voice. What is important to them? This will shape their personality. Will adding a backstory for the character help the reader understand their thought process? Yes but this is not necessary if your story won’t flow with one.
Finding a voice is simply giving your character speech, dialogue. The simplest way to do this is to ask your character questions and answer them as an interviewer.
Understanding how evil people speak will take research and understanding. Once you have figured out which character traits you want, now you can research their behavior, the way they talk, their body language, their tone of voice as they change subjects and so on and so forth. Analyze them by watching documentaries, crime documentaries are great for this especially when you can see or listen to them being questioned. You have to get into the mind of the character.
So writing an evil character is not as hard as it seems. Decide which negative character traits, do your research, find the voice, and imagine how your story wants to unfold from there, then you can create a character with depth and complexity. Coming up with the idea, doing research, and creating a character is all easy, writing it through to completion, well…. that’s the hardest part. I commend you for taking the initiative and remember don’t give up, especially on your villain, that’s your momentum in your story.
“I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” - Shannon Hale