While it is a daunting process to go through all the drafting and editing. Enfolding deep layers of writing is still one of the best feelings. Writing villains comes in those deep folds. There are multiple times of characters with their own flaws and with their own decisions.
But one thing that is common in most of them is their connection with their human side. Even the antagonist.
Villains, however, is a totally different story. They are shown as the evilest and dangerous creatures. They are portrayed as if they weren’t human at all. They are sadistic barriers in the hero’s path. And truth be told, it’s getting clichéd and old to have a villain whose only purpose is to oppose the hero. Villains are one of the most complicating characters to write.
If you don’t write properly and they feel one-dimensional to the readers. Then it will weaken the fundamental conflict of the story, as it has everything to do with the villains. There are a lot of different villains that make readers feel differently about them. Some are scary, some are sympathetic, some are straight psychopaths, while some are disgusting to no end.
But the most impactful of them are the ones who give readers chills. Who make readers think about them at random times. Like when they are alone with their thoughts or they have nothing to do and their mind starts thinking about human behavior in the form of these villains.
Here are the spells and herbs that you have to use in your recipe of making villains that give readers chills.
1. Villains Who Are Authentic
One quality of fully developed villains is their sense of authenticity. To themselves. They are brutally honest and aware of their extends.
These villains have their self-image clear. They don’t put themselves in a box or under limits. While you might think that they believe themselves to be the hero. There is a difference. They believe they are heroes of their own stories. But are aware and take pleasure in knowing that they the villains in someone else’s AKA the protagonist’s story.
This mature look at the “evil” will put readers in a trap of appreciation. Most stories have an underdeveloped protagonist from the start of the story. And as the protagonists move on their journey, they learn from their mistakes and their experience.
But the villains have already gone through their fair share of mistakes and experiences. That gives them authority and a mature aura throughout the story. While comparing the two, the readers will feel bound to admit that they are the mature ones here.
And this play with human behavior will become the first factor for the chills.
2. Villains Who Know Their Weaknesses
These villains already having the experience and facing the mistakes mean they are very familiar with their weaknesses. Through the story arc, there’s always a big focus on strength of the protagonist and eliminating their weakness. With villains, their advantage is their knowledge of their weaknesses and how and when to convert them to their strengths.
There’s a difference between weakness and insecurity. Most of the main characters are portrayed in a little perfect bubble where their only flaw is their insecurity, and all they have to do is come to accept these insecurities to be strong. Beware to not make the mistake.
Back to the villains. They are perfect at hiding their weaknesses in plain sight. And they play with the reader’s insecurities. That’s right, these villains have a sense of relatability. The readers feel that are they understood by the villain or that they understand a side of the villain that’s hidden from the storyline.
When readers see a part of themselves in the villains and observe what an extreme choice of the situation, they have themselves thought millions of times turn the villains into, it’s made for a strong element.
3. They Are Trusting
While some might say that the only trusting factor in villains is their manipulation tendency. But human behavior is not so simple. It’s a deep sea. And while there’s always going to be a manipulative nature to a villain.
The fact that there’s a pinch of trust in them will give them a powerful presence. Anything that has a contrasting light to them is bound to fill the room. If your major factor for readers to notice your villain’s presence is their weird clothes, two horns and them being misogynistic and creepy to every female. Then think again, because that’s a low-hanging fruit that has been used a thousand times.
Villains with contrasting features of the same coin not only represent the complexity of human nature, but they make for a well-layered character that your readers love to read about.
So having them be manipulative so that they are untrustworthy and simultaneously giving them some factors where prove them having a trusting cell would work great magic. Now don’t make them so the contrast in the same situations or to the same characters that they act they have bipolar disease.
4. They Don’t Hide Their Emotions
Okay, so this one might be a tricky one. And you might think that I have gone mad. But hang in there, trust me, your inner writer is going to love this. You have to keep in mind that hiding the emotions and controlling the emotions are two different things. While hiding the emotions, the characters have just two choices, they can either switch off their emotions or show their vulnerability.
But when the characters have full control over their emotions. They don’t hide them. They choose when to show them and how much. So you can probably decide now yourself what type of factor you want to add to your villains. What is cool about giving your villains emotional control is, that it gives you the freedom to write and expand their character and nature. Your villains don’t end at evil, they have a complete personality that mixes so well with their ill intentions that your readers will definitely get chills.
Now that you have my secret recipe for writing chill-giving villains, you might like a warning. Keep a balance in the factors. They are still villains; you don’t want to make them so relatable that your readers start rooting for them instead of your hero. Unless, of course, you like to experiment and that is your intention.
Comment about what is your own secret factor that you use in making your villains. Don’t forget to share it with your fellow writers.