Making interesting villains - Page 4

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  1. #31
    In my opinion, narcissists make the best villains.

    This is because they are so self-absorbed and absolutely in love with themselves that it is very easy for them to commit a crime without an ounce of remorse. Most people with narcissistic tendencies have a traumatic childhood that robs them off confidence and self-esteem.

    This lack of self-esteem forces them to push themselves hard to compensate that lands them in the dramatic opposite end of the spectrum - the one with high degree of self love.

    These people show some very uncanny traits and characteristics and as a writer who wants to concoct stories with a believable villain, you should be aware of this list.


  2. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by DocWrote View Post
    In my opinion, narcissists make the best villains.

    This is because they are so self-absorbed and absolutely in love with themselves that it is very easy for them to commit a crime without an ounce of remorse. Most people with narcissistic tendencies have a traumatic childhood that robs them off confidence and self-esteem.

    This lack of self-esteem forces them to push themselves hard to compensate that lands them in the dramatic opposite end of the spectrum - the one with high degree of self love.

    These people show some very uncanny traits and characteristics and as a writer who wants to concoct stories with a believable villain, you should be aware of this list.

    What you are describing is more akin to psychopathy, which is related to NPD, but its not quite true that narcissists don't feel remorse or find it easy to commit crimes. Many do have morality and very few are criminals.

    Most narcissists dont have a "have a traumatic childhood that robs them off confidence and self-esteem." Often it's actually the opposite - they come from high-achieving, empowering environments in which they are given too much confidence/self-esteem. The problem is that it manifests in materialistic ways that place more emphasis on competitive achievement than emotional development.

    But you're not necessarily wrong - narcissism is a broad spectrum. Additionally I feel psychopathy is pretty well-represented already in fiction, as is the typical "self-love" type of narcissism, which does not mean the OP should avoid having their villain be like that, however they may want to look at different angles than the old "dead inside" trope.

    A really fantastic (and short!) video is this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uJs0iGQN0M Dr. Ramani is a fantastic academic psychologist on this subject and explains four very different forms of narcissism, all of which could potentially be explored to craft compelling villains.
    Last edited by luckyscars; December 6th, 2018 at 05:30 PM.
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  3. #33
    Personally I think it's realism that makes a great villain. A well-written villain doesn't do evil things just so that he can twirl his proverbial mustache and cackle sinisterly about the misery he has caused. Instead, a villainous character should have a personality and motivations that the readers can associate with, or even sympathize with to a degree - one that could be better described as antagonist rather than villain.

    A good example would be Inspector Javert from V. Hugo's Les Miserables, an antagonist who causes suffering by only doing his job, his only real flaw being obsessive punctuality. Even what one could describe as a properly-evil character does not necessarily have to be a demonic embodiment of absolute evil - for example, commandant Amon Goeth from Schindler's List. What makes Goeth a great villain is precisely his regular guy aspect, the one you see when he is not busy tormenting his prisoners and realize that there is more to him than just a sadistic tyrant corrupted by power.

  4. #34
    Quote Originally Posted by CyberWar View Post
    Personally I think it's realism that makes a great villain. A well-written villain doesn't do evil things just so that he can twirl his proverbial mustache and cackle sinisterly about the misery he has caused. Instead, a villainous character should have a personality and motivations that the readers can associate with, or even sympathize with to a degree - one that could be better described as antagonist rather than villain.

    A good example would be Inspector Javert from V. Hugo's Les Miserables, an antagonist who causes suffering by only doing his job, his only real flaw being obsessive punctuality. Even what one could describe as a properly-evil character does not necessarily have to be a demonic embodiment of absolute evil - for example, commandant Amon Goeth from Schindler's List. What makes Goeth a great villain is precisely his regular guy aspect, the one you see when he is not busy tormenting his prisoners and realize that there is more to him than just a sadistic tyrant corrupted by power.
    Amon Goeth really isn't a good example of how to create an effective antagonist for a novel, as Goeth is an actual historic figure. His 'regular guy aspect' wasn't a creation in a writer's mind. Spielberg had the luxury of researching documented evidence of Goeth's behavior and history. While an author could, and perhaps should, pattern their antagonist on the backgrounds and behaviors of real people, saying that Amon Goeth is an example of that is not accurate since he was, in fact, a real person not a fictional construct.
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  5. #35
    Goeth was not a regular guy- not in the movie, either. He shot a kid because he didn't get a stain out ( I don't know if that was real). No, Schindler was more the regular guy. Unless of course you think regular guys are homicidal sociopaths.
    So I think anger issues are a good trait. Anger is a great little instant motivator for horrible acts. It's also good for pre-meditated horrible acts. You did this to me, and I am therefor angry, so I am going to do this- very logical and easy for your reader to follow.

    Your racist guy there- that's a little more difficult to get, maybe. Like what's his motivation? How does he come to the conclusion that he needs to do whatever it is he does? Hitler had this whole manifesto- Jews as the enemy- the whatevers of Zion type stuff. I suppose he must've been personally hurt at one time? I don't know. Yer Ferdinand and Isabela had land grabbing as a motivator. Burn a Jew, get their land, which makes perfect sense. And then they had the religious justification aspect which absolved them, in the public. Which is similar to the angry guy- you made me mad, so that's why I did it. Those seem to be explanations for others that the perps can use to say to them (others)that it's okay what they did, but I don't think they need those for themselves- they would have done it anyway.

  6. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by CyberWar;2195040
    A good example would be Inspector Javert from V. Hugo's [I
    Les Miserables[/I], an antagonist who causes suffering by only doing his job, his only real flaw being obsessive punctuality.
    This is also a good example of a villain that creates good moral dialogue. I would say that Javert's greatest flaw is his belief that "once a criminal, always a criminal" - his inability to understand the grace of God and the capacity for change. He's the perfect villain for the story because his convictions are in direct opposition to the protagonist's.
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  7. #37
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin View Post
    Goeth was not a regular guy- not in the movie, either. He shot a kid because he didn't get a stain out ( I don't know if that was real). No, Schindler was more the regular guy. Unless of course you think regular guys are homicidal sociopaths.
    So I think anger issues are a good trait. Anger is a great little instant motivator for horrible acts. It's also good for pre-meditated horrible acts. You did this to me, and I am therefor angry, so I am going to do this- very logical and easy for your reader to follow.

    Your racist guy there- that's a little more difficult to get, maybe. Like what's his motivation? How does he come to the conclusion that he needs to do whatever it is he does? Hitler had this whole manifesto- Jews as the enemy- the whatevers of Zion type stuff. I suppose he must've been personally hurt at one time? I don't know. Yer Ferdinand and Isabela had land grabbing as a motivator. Burn a Jew, get their land, which makes perfect sense. And then they had the religious justification aspect which absolved them, in the public. Which is similar to the angry guy- you made me mad, so that's why I did it. Those seem to be explanations for others that the perps can use to say to them (others)that it's okay what they did, but I don't think they need those for themselves- they would have done it anyway.
    There's a homicidal sociopath in every one of us - it's just that most of us never encounter the right circumstances to bring that sociopath out. The banality of evil is that Goeth and countless other men like him throughout history were in fact thoroughly ordinary men (for most part, at least), one could even say - boringly so. All it really takes to turn an ordinary guy into a sadistic killer is to give him power over another human being and reassure him that he will not be held accountable for anything he does to his charge.

    Which I think is another great way to write a villain - to explore an ordinary man's gradual slide into corruption.

  8. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by CyberWar View Post
    There's a homicidal sociopath in every one of us - it's just that most of us never encounter the right circumstances to bring that sociopath out. The banality of evil is that Goeth and countless other men like him throughout history were in fact thoroughly ordinary men (for most part, at least), one could even say - boringly so. All it really takes to turn an ordinary guy into a sadistic killer is to give him power over another human being and reassure him that he will not be held accountable for anything he does to his charge.

    Which I think is another great way to write a villain - to explore an ordinary man's gradual slide into corruption.
    The thing is Goeth isn’t a good example of that because by all accounts he was never an “ordinary man” but an ideologue who joined the Nazis as a teenager long before they were in power and was almost certainly an anti Semite, radical and psychopath from the start.

    If you want an example of a historical character who went from ordinary to villainous over a period of time due to corrupting influences, I think better examples would be somebody like Che Guevara. A man with unquestionably virtuous intent who nevertheless became involved or complicit in plenty of death and corruption in the name of what he saw as the greater good. There’s a genuine complexity to that sort of villain.

  9. #39
    I don't think Goeth was a true psychopath. With a few exceptions, most Nazis were ordinary men who had families they loved, men who would read their children bedtime stories and kiss their wives goodbye in the morning before going to work - to visit unspeakable atrocities upon other human beings. Perhaps I am mistaken about Amon Goeth in particular, but he certainly strikes me as this corrupted regular guy - a patriot and sincere believer in his cause who was gradually led from playing with the devil's toys to wielding his sword. The way that aspect is portrayed in Schindler's List is what I find so great about that film - in fact, so much so that to me it is the deliciously-evil commandant rather than Oskar Schindler who turns the whole movie from just another depressing Holocaust sob-story into a masterpiece.

    Perhaps Che Guevara would be a better real-world example of a well-meaning person gradually corrupted to villainy, but then again, his story is fundamentally not at all different from that of most Nazis. Extremism of all forms always finds fertile soil wherever there's despair, anger and privation, and all that was to be found in spades both in Weimar Republic and rural Latin America.

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