What makes a good villain?

The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.
Alfred Hitchcock

In every great fantasy or science fiction novel I have enjoyed over the years, there is a common thread – there is always a great villain.  Whether it is Voldemort, Darth Vader or Sauron, it takes a strong villain to really move the story along.  In most cases, the villains we love to hate are not absolutely evil (or at least didn’t start out that way); they are flawed individuals who went down the wrong path, sometimes for seemingly good reasons.

In my first novel, The Guardian’s Apprentice, the actual villain was largely unseen until the last few chapters.  Now, as I begin book two, The Guardian’s Curse, the villain is much more central to the entire story.  Over the course of writing the first book, the villain I had in mind actually changed dramatically over time and ended up completely different (and I think better) than when I started the story.

So my question to you is, what makes a good villain?  When you write the black hat for your story, are they bad from the get-go or is there a life changing event that starts them down that slippery slope of no return?

On my next post:  A preview of book two The Guardian’s Curse

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5 Responses to “What makes a good villain?”

  1. A smart one. Being good looking doesn’t help either. lol

  2. The darkside must be able to state their case and be sympathetic. 2 dimensional cut-outs aren’t effective villains, just laughable.

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