June 19, 2015

Crafting Villains

By Cynthia Eden

I have a confession to make—I love villains.  I love their darkness, their layers, and the wonderful twists that they can add to any story.  When I write my books, I always have a goal of creating a villain who will be a perfect match for my protagonist. I want a villain who will be just as strong and just as complex as my hero or heroine. Weak villains don’t pull in readers, and they certainly won’t give a story a hard, intense edge.

So how does an author craft a *killer* villain?  Here are my two rules for a good villain: 
            1. Good villains must command attention.
            2.A good villain will shock, surprise, and keep a reader on the edge of his/her seat.

All characters have a back story, and when authors create a commanding villain, the villain should have a very compelling back story. When creating a backstory for your villain, you should consider the following:
1.     How did your villain come to be so wicked?  What turned her/him into this being? 
2.     Is your villain’s “wickedness” due to nature or nurture?
3.     What is the level of evil for this character? After all, not all villains are killers.  There is a level of evil, a scale, that you can create.

Another point to consider when developing a villain…what positive traits will your villain have? Yes, I said positive. Because it is very rare to encounter someone who is 100% evil (or 100% good). So even villains will have some redeeming traits, and it is those traits that might make your readers sympathize with a villain (if that is your intent). By giving a villain both positive and negative traits, you create a multi-dimensional character, one with dark flaws, but also a few bright points that make readers feel compelled to learn more about this individual.

A powerful villain will be a perfect counterpoint for your protagonist.  So when you write, make sure you spend as much time developing your bad guy (or bad girl) as you do the hero and heroine of your tale.

Best of luck with your villain!
Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious RITA® award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas. Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She has authored Mine to Take, Suspicions and many more,  She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Cynthia is happy to be part of Brenda Novak’s SWEET TALK collection for raising money for diabetes research. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.You can find Cynthia chatting daily on Twitter ( or on her Facebook page ( Author’s website: Author’s blog:  

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