East Side Public Library

East Side Public Library
The Ruins of Detroit

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Villains Readers Love to Hate


     This article, written by Tess Collins on January 10, 2001, gives some tips of the trade of creating the perfect villain that readers love to hate. Simply slapping an evil trademark on some outline of a man won't really stir the emotional side of any reader. To be an antagonist takes skill! To be a well developed character is difficult! To be grayscale instead of black and white is talent! So, here we go...I will become Victor Frankentstein and create my own villain out of remains of other protagonists, antagonists, and a little bit of magic called "words."

     Connor Rouge, a highly complex fellow with a positive past but a tragic prior event that changed his life forever. Upon the surface he is a sinister male with no affection toward any female partner or anyone for that matter but deep down he has a soft side, one much like an oyster. Olivia Martin, a victim of this tale that falls helplessly in love with Connor despite his lack of humane actions. Connor disregards Olivia as another woman and goes about his merry way without a care in the world. Olivia is crushed, heartbroken, the protagonist with everything going with her and the tragic past to enhance the empathy.
     Connor, being the evil and malicious man that he is, goes around town and dates as he wish, frollicing in the fruits of the single life. Of course the reader (if this were ever a well developed story) feels awful for Olivia, what a poor girl, with a poor past, with a poor situation of being head over heels. And, well, since the reader has no idea what Connor's past is all about or even that he had a past, hates the charming young man, his smooth ways, and ease with manipulating women to fall at his feet.

     Connor is not a regular guy though, his actions are completely unpredictable and completely untrustworthy. This adds a slight bit of suspense with what Connor has to say and as the past of Connor slowly is revealed the audience begins to want to know more and want to sympathize for him but simply can't because of all the malicious things he has done to Olivia. Wonderful! A character people just love to hate...evil, sporatic, but sympathetic! The creation is ready to start to live his life, just add a jolt of electricy and we have our very own Frankenstein-ish monster.

     I think this calls for a short story...don't you?!

*  *  *

   She sat alone at a coffee table just studying. per usual, three text books stacked high on one side, planners and calendars on the other side, and notebooks in front. Typical Olivia, chugging down a quick fix of a triple espresso to quench the thirst of sleep deprivation. Hardly has she ever noticed the characters around her, even the usuals like the woman adorned in kitten sweaters, the two hipster teens in love, or even the shy man in the corner with darting eyes. Today was no other; it wasn't particularly bright, not stormy, not even a day of great importance on the calendar. Far into a discussion analysis Olivia paused for a moment and signed her name in the corner, Olivia Martin, oh what a basic name she thought. Just as she was about to dive into another few paragraphs a cup of coffee was placed in the only empty spot on the tiny table nearly a half inch away from the precious essay. Startled she looked up to see a handsome man, a few years older, smiling down. "Thought you could use a lift." Without looking back he just strolled on out.
     There was a number on the side of the cup and Olivia smiled to herself at the horrible invitation for a conversation. Regardless she drank the pick-up thankfully and continued with her studies but found herself looking at the number scrawled on there time and time again. Just as she was about to take her things and leave she hastily decided to write the number on the top of her folder. She thought about the man on her walk back to her apartment. He had on a simple black tee shirt, no logos, jeans that were a little frayed on the bottom. She remembered vividly light brown hair, maybe blonde in the summer time and a few freckles. His eyes didn't really sparkle, they seemed to burn like little gold orbs under a wise temple.

Okay, I think it's time we pause here. AH! Can you say "mini-series?"


  1. Mini-series! It's very interesting, keep it up.

  2. "Typical Olivia, chugging down a quick fix of a triple espresso to quench the thirst of sleep deprivation." Love it!

    And I find your discussion on character/villian development interesting. I can see how creating an unpredictable character is interesting, but I wonder such a decision plays out for your reader. Doesn't there have to be some motive for a character's actions - even if such motives aren't revealed until later?