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All About Villains

All About Villains

People like villains in fiction. I know I do. They’re great characters. They’re fun to hate, or sympathize with, or try to understand, or even forgive. And you can definitely love a morally questionable character without approving of their life choices.  My favorite kind of villain, is nuanced, gives you those moments where you understand them or even agree with them, is not made out to be entirely evil to the core, and is clever. I have never personally been a fan of the “person is so unbelievably stupid that everything they do causes trouble just because they don’t understand their own job” trope. Those characters always have dumb hair and are entirely un-relatable, and that just does not make for a compelling narrative. Really well written, complex villains can make a story. In this article Scott Myers actually refers to the villain archetype as the nemesis, which I like. The villain isn’t always entirely bad. Sometimes a villain isn’t inherently malicious at all, as seen in human versus nature stories where the so-called villain is really just a shark or a very bad snow storm. Still, whether they’re coming from a basically good place and just doing everything wrong, or they really just want lots of money and power and don’t care about anyone but themselves, villains are just fun to explore. You can’t have a story without conflict and can’t have conflict without someone or something to drive it.

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Olivia is a creative human who writes for IDEAS and reads many, many books. Got an idea for a guest blog? Email