What makes a great villain?

Is it their piercing gaze? Their maniacal laugh? Their adherence to a strictly leather wardrobe? The way they carpool exclusively in tailgating black vans?

No to all of that.

Maybe it’s how they are the ULTIMATE SOURCE OF EVIL, or they WANT TO RULE THE GLOBE.

No. That’s been done to death.

So what makes a great villain?

Well, one of our favorite authors—Delilah S. Dawnson—is putting on a master class right now. Let’s tune in, and we can elaborate more later.

Great Villains

The most important thing to remember is that your villain needs to be a foil for your hero. They need to be perfectly matched, but not carbon copies. They need to be strong where your hero is weak. They need to be smart where your hero is dumb. Really, they need to be the person your hero WANTS to be at the beginning of the story.

That’s not to say your hero wants to murder the innocent, or rule the world, or obtain the seven dragon emeralds in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy.

Your hero starts the story poor, so they dream of being rich. They start weak, so they dream of being strong. They start as a nobody, so they dream of being somebody.

Think about your favorite villains of all time. Hans Gruber vs John McLane; Robin Hood vs The Sheriff; Rocky vs Apollo. There are connections that bring these two together, and strict rules which force them to fight. While one may not idolize the other, the protagonist does WANT some of the qualities of their enemy.

But Adam, you say, Rocky wants to win his fight and he doesn’t. Robin Hood wants to free England and (depending on the version) he doesn’t. John McLane is foiled time and again by the Gruber family.

Well young viewer, that’s because what your main character WANTS and what they NEED are rarely the same thing. Rocky WANTS to get his shot, to be big time, but what he NEEDS is to know he is loved, that he isn’t a loser, that his life isn’t over yet. Robin Hood WANTS to stick it to the Sheriff and the evil forces hurting his people, but he NEEDS to atone for his sins in the Crusades, and to find the home he lost along the way.

When creating your villains, think about what your main character WANTS, and use the villain to guide them to what they NEED.

Also, add in some dope monologues, cause villains GOTS to have their monologues.