How to write evil (Getting inside the mind of your villain. Also home of the villain's database.)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Spike2002, May 11, 2003.

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  1. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    This is for any writers that have trouble with characterisations for their villains, especially getting inside said character's thoughts, emotions and motivation. As a writer who has been said to be able to write villains perfectly (or at least well :p) I am here to help and give advice.

    As Amphistaff_chuck has said: [blockquote]As stated so blatantly above, I have found little-to-no fanfics concerning the Yuuzhan Vong, the Imperials, or any other baddies. As the focus of the main story line that is. I see little besides the usual "good-guys" fics. Whether or not those good guys remain so righteous is not always certain, but my point stands. Even with OC fics, few of the stories set their focus on ambiguous or outright bad/evil characters. Few anti-heroes we love so much, and no YV or Imperial centered stories. Does no one else find it fun or worthwhile to explore a world outside of the established characters?

    So I ask: where are the stormtrooper squads executing unruly protesters? Where are the Yuuzhan Vong warriors decimating entire legions of their enemy? I demand more desperation, more darkness, and just plain more evil. I don't want this "angst" excuse. I want to see the good-guys die some. I want to see them lose here and there even. That's right, I want evil to win sometimes. "Why" you ask? Because it adds variety and makes me feel all fuzzy and warm inside.[/blockquote]

    And as anakin's_girl replied: [blockquote]Most of us prefer to write characters we can relate to, and we have a hard time "getting inside" a character who would murder in cold blood, chop good guys to pieces as you said. That may be why you don't see too many of the "evil" fics.

    Well, this thread is here to solve the problems that they both speak of. (Hope you guys don't mind me quoting you).

    We have some other members who have volunteered to help writers having problems. All dedicated to different niches.

    Yuuzhan Vong Support: Spike2002, Bobbacca

    Imperial: CmdrMitthrawnuruodo, additional volunteer required.

    Sith/Dark Jedi: Dark Droid. Additional volunteer needed.

    Misc villains: tatooinewizard, Splendoriantheblendid

    This thread is also the home for the villains database. If you wish to post your villains bios, please do it in this format. Another reason for this villain's database is to help develop your villains more. All characters must have at least some depth to them, and giving them a history here will help writer's in their efforts to write better.

    Weapon(s) of choice:
    Vehicle(s) of choice:
    Most related quotes:
    Distinguishing features:
    Story(ies) appeared in:
  2. Lyart_Triath

    Lyart_Triath Jedi Youngling star 1

    May 11, 2002
    The two pieces of advise that I can give to people having trouble with writing evil is this:

    1) Make them real - It's a cliche about the villian who's evil for the sake of being evil. Villians should have motivations, reasons for why they want to take over/destroy the world beyond the fact they're evil. Take a moment to flesh them outa bit; maybe they lost their loved ones, maybe they had a bad childhood, maybe they have a mental problem, etc, etc...Look to real-life dictators and war criminals to understand the mentality of people who do these sort of things; even the six o'clock news is a good place.

    2)Tap into your inner villian - seriously, just look into yourself and see what would drive you to do these sort of things. I know none of us like to admit that we can be cold-blooded killers, but the truth is given the right motivation and push to the brink anyone one of us could kill.

    I'm sure there is more advice that I could give, but gotta run, time to help get the baby in bed.

  3. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Thanks for your input Lyart. Your second bit of advice is similar to thoughts I had on the topic. Hope you can stick around and help me with any individual writers having trouble.
  4. KatarnLead

    KatarnLead Jedi Youngling star 3

    Oct 5, 2002
    Spike, I was about to give you two bits of advice. Lyart_Triath beat me to it.

    Basically, the villans need a reason to be evil. They don't just feel like being evil, or are born evil (although that could be disputed), but something along the path of their life has caused them to turn evil...

    Also, when you think about it, it doesn't take much to turn someone evil. For instance, someone threatening your loved ones will generally result in the desire for revenge growing in you, and a revenge that wants them to hurt in the worst way possible. Just try to imagine this.

    Then all of a sudden, hey presto! You're evil!

    Now just write it into a character, and don't let it hang around in your head! :p
  5. SobiFan

    SobiFan Jedi Youngling star 3

    May 7, 2003
    Just always remember... villians have souls too :D
  6. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Katarn: Thanks, but I'm not the one needing advice. I'm offering it. But welcome aboard if you wanna help anyone else needing some.
  7. Rokangus

    Rokangus Jedi Knight star 5

    Oct 18, 2000
    In my opinion, and some people have already touched on this, the most effective and sometimes most disturbing villains are the ones who aren't completely evil.

    Now by that I mean the 'Snidely Whiplash-esque' type of completely evil...of doing things simply because they're evil, and such. Unfortunately, that type of villain is so unreal that they almost seem like a bogey-man, meant to scare but not really real.

    What I have found to be most effective is writing a villain...that the readers can relate to. :eek: If you really want to have your readers start tripping out, write a villain that the readers read about and think to themselves...hey, I almost kind of agree with him. That gets them thinking, and that's what makes a true villain. For while there is always the physical battle between good and evil; on the other hand, as in the final battle between Luke and Vader, it is often just as much a battle of philosophy and will.

    And yet at the same time, you shouldn't make the villain so easy to relate to...that he stops being the villain. He must still do evil's just the motivations that seem eerily familiar. ;) Above all else, Villains strive single-mindedly towards their goal, whatever it may be, and they will sacrifice anything, and yes, even everything to get it.

    Anywho, hope that little blurb has been helpful. ;)
  8. katha

    katha Jedi Master star 2

    Jan 30, 2002
    Hey Spike, you've read my story.. or at least most of it, so I was wondering what you thought about my villians.

    On a side note: I think of exsisting Star Wars and other movie/book villians when I'm creating my own. For example, Xanin in Betrayal From the Past, was inspired by Ambrose from Mission Impossible 2 and Xanatos from the Jedi Apprentice series. When I look back at my story I can see elements of both those villians in him.
  9. SpeldoriontheBlended

    SpeldoriontheBlended Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 12, 2002
    When people think of Mary Sues and Gary Stu's, they think good-guys. THey think of one Jedi with a lightsaber and an X-wing slicing up whole regiments of stormies, blowing up whole fleets of Star Destroyers and killing legions of Sith to rescue a loved one. But Mary and Gary can be evil too. Think "hah, I've only got pitiful rescources but I'm gonna make the New Republic bleed " Admiral Daala (although in some incarnations she can be quite fun). The only thimg that stops her changing her imitials to M.S are the random hooks thrown in to give her a bit of life. Take the main evil-dudes (well, dude and dudess) from my up'n coming fic, ATOR II. I've built on an existing charecter, made them bitter, added in a cunning plot to bring about a certain something's downfall, and there are your perfectly servicable "bad guys". (Or people to be politically correct.)

    It's the "hooks" that are useful. You can't just say they did this or that. You have to make the charecters actions mold their, well, charecter. Luke is a good example of this. After DE he is very wary of the darkside.

    THat's my two pennies worth! :)
  10. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Katha: I remember reading your story, but I can't remember much about the villains. If you'll let me re-read and I'll give you feedback on how you wrote them.

    Everyone else: I'm going to write a classification of all types of villain and give Starwars examples next to them. If I miss any out please feel free to add them to the list.
  11. Cam_Mulonus

    Cam_Mulonus Jedi Master star 4

    Jul 29, 2002
    TIP # 1: Don't EVER make your villain cackle.

    Hero: I'm going to stop you!


    Tip #3: Give the villain some human characteristics that might be the reason for his badness. For instance, in my fic, Resurgence of Chaos, Grand Moff Kejick prefers being an Imperial because he is impatient. The Empire gets things done quicker, no matter the ethics in the matter. This point is emphasized by Kejick tapping his fingers on the table during a long, boring meeting.

    Tip #2: Give him a cape...
  12. Jade_rebel3

    Jade_rebel3 Jedi Youngling star 3

    Mar 3, 2003
    Make your villian human. Do not make them heartless, give them a weakness.

    Your villian doesn't have to male. Ever hear the saying, "Hell knows no fury compared to the wrath of a scorned woman."
    Jaina's always good for this.

    Creativity-don't just have them do the cliché things.

  13. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Mar 1, 2002
    Villians should have a hobby just like everyone else. In my latest fic, I had Sidious (or his minion Maul) kill the Jedi and then take their dead hands (or other parts) for his collection. This was actually based on the books. He loved to look them over from time to time, fondle them and remember the good times...

    See, not violent but really disgusting!
  14. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Yeah that is disgusting.

    Types of villain:

    The cartoon supervillain: Known for cackling madly and plotting the destruction of his enemies all the time. Has no hesitation for mass murder but will throw a hissy fit if someone spills soup all over his dinner jacket.
    (Closest Starwars example, the Emperor in ROTJ. Possibly Grand Moff Tarkin. A bunch of Sith Lords including Exar Kun.)

    The Fallen Hero: Someone who was once a hero, but fell into darkness because of situation, necessity or just fancied having some good one liners for once.
    (Ol' Darth Vader methinks, Ulic Qel Droma, Luke in Dark Empire)

    The Henchmen: Usually extremely incompetent on the whole, henchmen still have one among their number who is probably indestructible. This henchman will survive to the end of a story, usually only defeated by a hero's wits or luck, having bested them in single combat.
    (Darth Maul, stormtroopers, Trade Federation)

    Sympathetic villain: Similar to the fallen hero, only the sympathetic villain wasn't a hero in the first place. Is fighting against the heroes because of some past injustice, like the Jedi killed his family or the Republic blew up his world etc. Usually confronted and goes mad when he finds that he's been wrong all his life (of course, the Jedi wouldn't kill people...) and has to be killed in single combat. Can be heard saying, "Sorry," or something to that effect to make the audience that bit more sympathetic.
    Note: Can be known to be allied with cartoon supervillains.
    (Hmm, I'd say Thrawn was sympathetic, although he had no motivation except conquest. Kueller from the New Rebellion could count, but he's the more cartoon supervillain type.)

    Hmmm. Can't think of any other types at the moment. If anyone can think of some others please post them.
  15. Bobbacca

    Bobbacca Jedi Youngling star 2

    Apr 25, 2003
    Some of the best villians, IMO, are the ones who don't see themselves as doing anything wrong. Tsavong Lah, for instance, does evil because the beliefs he was raised with tell him that murdering billions of civilians for his gods is the morally correct thing to do. Many in the Empire, Thrawn for instance, didn't see it as being evil, though they didn't necissarily agree with all of their tactics at times.

    If you do go with the villian that realizes he (or she) is one of the bad guys, but doesn't care because s/he was driven to it, it may help to create another character in a similar situation who isn't evil to use a a character foil.
  16. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Dude. Wouldnt Lah be classed as sympathetic?
  17. Alion_Sangre

    Alion_Sangre Jedi Padawan star 4

    Dec 9, 2001
    I find that it's often interesting to make your villain just a little bit good, but prone to letting the little guy with the horns talk him into things. Alion Sangre is a bounty hunter/Dark Jedi who briefly appears in "Snow Job," where he mystifies the NRI agent guarding his target by saving his life several times. While he's honorable and sometimes merciful, what makes him villainous is his willingness to give in to his anger and to let the ends justify the means. If he was taking Obi-Wan's place in the nightclub scene from AoTC, Elan Sleazebaggano would not have left to rethink his life. At the very least he would have encountered breathing difficulties, more likely Sangre would break the "no disintegrations" rule.

    Evil can also be pragmatic. Another villain of mine is Darth Cain, a Sith Lord working his schemes in the NJO/post-NJO timeframe. Cain isn't evil for evil's sake, but instead he wants to alter the galaxy to his designs. In Before the Storm, Luke explains to Han that this is the real divide between dark and light: a darksider seeks to alter his environment to suit himself, while the lightsider seeks harmony with his surroundings. While Cain has no qualms about killing people, torture, and flattening planets, he only uses brute force if he feels its the fastest and most effective way of doing the job - more often , he relies on deceit and persuasion to minimize the number of ticked-off people who might want to stand in his way. Power is no good if revolts are springing up and winning converts underfoot.
  18. Lyart_Triath

    Lyart_Triath Jedi Youngling star 1

    May 11, 2002
    One of the best types of villians is the ones that keep their hands clean. The cult leader mindsight sort of villian that convinces other people to do all the dirty worrk. Example: Palpatine

    Another good one is the villian that knows when to keep his mouth shut. To many of the archtypal (sic) villians have to spell their guts to the the hero mere moments before the hero is supposed to be killed, only to have the hero escape and end up using the information to thwart the villian's plans (most of you 007 villians do this). A good military/cult leader isn't going to tell anyone anything they don't need to know.

    And the final one I can think of right now is the villian that tells the truth. Apply the Obi-Wan idea of "Certain point of view" and have the villian tell the truth. Maybe he doesn't volunteer all the details or maybe he neglects to mention something minor here or there. It controls his enemies by giving them the truth and letting their distrust lead them to the wrong conclusions. But in the end he should be able to say "Did I lie? Nope. I told you the truth, you're the one that read to much in between the lines; read things that wasn't there."
  19. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Theres some good points there guys. Now...where are the people with problems?
  20. PadmeLeiaJaina

    PadmeLeiaJaina Force Ghost star 6

    May 23, 2002
    SW isn't SW w/o good villains. My personal opinion is that over the top villains are not out of the place in the SW universe. Palpatine fit that bill perfectly, so if you want to create someone who's truly despicable, feel free to do so. Unlike what someone said, if you want their laugh to cackle- don't be afraid to do so... just make sure that you've consistantly added that as a characteristic for the villain throughout the story. I love it when evil characters laugh- particularly if they are insane. Just make sure you give the villain enough background to explain why he/she behaves the way they do.

    I've suddenly become known as the writer of evil grandmothers [face_mischief] Whoever mentioned that you shouldn't forget writing female baddies is right- they can be as fun- if not more fun than male villains. Why? Women hold grudges forever, can be very resentful, and can be brilliant manipulators. There's nothing better than writing a female villain who plans things ahead of time and knows how to cover her tracks.

    Writing evil female villains is fun because they weren't explored in the SW films, but do appear in the EU (my ultimate favorite being Ta'a Chume [face_devil] Self-serving, power-hungry witch! [face_devil] )

    I know that for me personally, it's exhausting writing evil characters. I find it difficult to really understand how they think and understand their motivations- most likely because I'm a goody-goody in real life :p My best advice is that if you want to write someone evil- plan the character out completely beforehand. Discovering and fleshing-out the character along the way is NOT easy or fun. Darth Writers Block grabbed me several times all because I got stuck trying to figure out how to write my evil character. If you plan out biography of the character ahead of time- it's easier to remember why he/she is reacting in a certain way in particular situations.

    Like others said understanding how evil people work is great also. You don't have to look at well known murderers or dictators- all you need to do is watch enough criminal law type TV to understand what goes into making someone travel down the wrong path.

    Was she/he abused as a child? Were they unduly influenced early on in their lives by someone w/ less than pure intentions? Or simply did they just start to wallow in self-hate until their goodness slowly disappeared?

    I think it's a lot of trial and error in writing evil characters. We probably all fall into certain cliches in the beginning, but we learn as we go along to flesh them out as well as our heroes. Just remember the sky is the limit when it comes to writing nasty characters. You're only limited by what your imagination cannot visualize.
  21. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    Thanks for the input PLJ.
  22. lordmaul13

    lordmaul13 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Oct 18, 2000
    You're only limited by what your imagination cannot visualize.

    *senses that it's time for a not so random movie quote*

    I don't know, I can imagine quite a lot.

  23. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Feb 4, 2002
    And what obviously unfamous movie was that quote from? :p
  24. SpeldoriontheBlended

    SpeldoriontheBlended Jedi Padawan star 4

    Apr 12, 2002
    Quite often the most intersting villians are the ones that are on the goodies side, or at least are believed to be on their side. I can't think of any for the moment, but I know there are some. Another cool villain is the Brakkis type-the confused, "I just want to be normal" type.
  25. lordmaul13

    lordmaul13 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Oct 18, 2000
    You mean the sinister double agent type? Like Erisi Dlarit (?sp) from the X-Wing series.


    Oh, I'll give you one guess on what that quote is from. ;)
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