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7 Hearts to Villians

Updated on October 10, 2019

Heart 1: Emotion

They understand and feel emotions like the rest of your heroes. So treat them with care in crafting them too. The best example is Maleficent of Sleeping Beauty. In the beginning of the movie, she shows displeasure with the royals for not inviting her to celebrate the birth of their daughter Aurora. She shows hope in that the royals will apologize for not inviting her, but when they don't, she shows both courtesy and generosity. Maleficent hides her disappointment and tells the royals she is not offended. However, she gives Aurora beauty and grace while slipping her curse to kill the newborn at 16. Later on, the good fairy god mother lessens the curse to a sleeping one. When Aurora turns 16, Maleficent lures her to the spindle and captures Prince Philip, the only one who can save her. But he gets set free by the good magic and Maleficent feels rage. She turns into a dragon for desperation and determination. She ultimately fails.

Then during the 2014 remake with the actress, Angelina Jolie, we see her fall in love, and then betrayed. Which leads to her feeling hatred towards the king. But like a good villain, she uses patience, courtesy to hide her evilness, and determination to win.

Just like all heroes, Villains have their bad days and good days. By letting the reader see how the villain shows his or her emotion, can add tension as well as another layer to the overall story. Not all villains are robots, emotions can play a strong motive to why they are an obstacle to the hero.

Heart 2: Display human characteristics

No matter the race, skin, color, species; Villains must display either emotions, desires, language, magic, hierarchy in society, beliefs, religion, etc. Giving them a desire and showing their beliefs on why they want the protagonist to lose is the best way to add likeness to the villain. We can see their side and where they are coming from, the readers can understand how the villain became evil.

Readers like to connect the characters, right out of the gate, even most editors reading the book prefer to know the main character, and by doing that is making them real and human. The closer you can get a reader to a character, the more they will feel, take up arms, and fight against the evil doer. The villain is supposed to be the obstacle, the opposite of the main character, but what if they really are similar, they just had different destinies, or life led them on a different road. The dragon could have been a princess, but instead she was robbed, and now she will never get to have a happy ending.

Heart 3: Good quality

All villains were someone young, pure, and naïve once. So have a trigger that makes them either do good or seem good, even if it is a split second.

Writers, you can choose the the amount of good readers see in a villain. But one can never be completely evil because they can change, have a moment of weakness, or have an alter ego.

Like Jekyll and Hyde, we see one man so good he cannot harm another. Then we see one man willing to harm anything. The tip here is to become comfortable with the good side of your villain, they can be nice. Also watch for the timing when you show their weakness. Going back to Maleficent, she shows how nice she is on the outside, but a raging dragon villain mistress on the inside.

All villains should be persuasive, charismatic, complex, and should have a purpose. Villains are there to drive the plot forward. Maybe showing mercy once to the main character is all the hero needs in order to land back on their feet, but it also shows readers, there is a good side, a human side, maybe they were not always bad, or maybe they could see a part of themself inside the hero. It leads the reader to desire more about how the story will unfold.

Heart 4: Motivation

What does the villain want, desire, or need. Motivation helps create tension for the plot, and the driving force to defeat the protagonist. They want power, but why do they want it? Do they want to rule? Be the baddest and most wicked of them all? Make sure the motivation is clear to you as the writer, it will naturally come out in the story line.

In the second movie of Thor, we see an evil elf. He wants to infect all nine worlds with evil, destruction, and decay. This motivates him to take the actions the course of the plot in the movie. Thor has to rise to this occasion, the call to action, and fight against this evil who is strong, strongly motivated, but also has a weakness Thor uses to win. The conflict is what leads the entire story plot, and it can with a story as well.

The motive should be something logical to the villain, but not necessary logical to the hero. Take X-men as well, you have Xavier and Erik (Magento), who believe in the same beliefs, who share the same emotions, but their motivation on how to get to their goals are completely different. Magento is not afraid to stand out and Xavier would rather blend in while completing his goal. Their motivations are different, but the goal is the same. So which one is a hero and which one is the villain, people can relate to certain motivations because they might have the same feelings as Magento. No one ever helped him become strong, he did it on his own. Xavier, had a strong and moral upbring which helped shape each of their motivations.

Step 5: Master Plan

A villain comes with a plan, but hardly ever with a plan B. Make your villain clear of what they are doing to destroy the protagonist. Even if it takes a villain a lifetime to complete their plan.

Ex. Ursula of Little Mermaid is the perfect villain to explain this heart. She clearly tells Ariel she will give her legs, but she cannot speak on land, and must seduce Eric to give her true love's kiss in three days, or she belongs as a slave to Ursula. We see Ursula trying to sabotage Ariel the entire time giving away her master plan of wanting Ariel as her slave, and no happy endings. Ursula didn't have a plan B if Ariel was to succeed. At the end of the movie, we see Ursula give into temptation and be impulsive by tricking Eric he loves a sea witch instead of a mermaid.

Step 6: Might share a trait with protagonist

To make a villain more complex, allow a shared trait. Venom in Marvel comic books is the best example for this. Spiderman and Venom both share the same abilities, except Spiderman is good and will always defeat Venom. But we get that internal struggle of Spiderman. he needs to out think his opponent, we get to see the character think in a new and impossible way.

Every villain should be allowed to be a counterpart to the hero. Though, the writer, you, can determine how close they mirror each other. Maybe it is all only one trait, or the motivation is the same, but completely opposite in personality. If they are more alike or more different than each other, it creates more tension, driving the story further, and the readers will have a hard time being bored.

Step 7: Compatibility

A villain will only flourish when the story is right. Is the world, the plot, the tension, the motivation, right for the protagonist to become a hero or achieve one's goal?

You can dream up of a hundred villains and only one will fit the story perfect. As all stories, they are puzzles writers put together. The reader gets to follow along, and tries to figure out the writer's puzzle. A villain should help with that. What will the villain do next to stand in the way of the hero? A villain should compliment the story, not hinder it.

Who is your favorite Disney Villain

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