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April 2013
20

Bastards and Bitches

Masterlist (something I’d like to call linkstorm) of everything I’ve found on characters you’d consider “bad”. Serial killers, criminals, gangsters, or just villains. Types, guides, to the moon and back. Beware sometimes they’re not that bad, hence the quotations… and no, the title is not a wink to a certain book. Not at all.


Most of the villains or bad people in books/movies want the same thing… power. Or they already have it, and want to keep it that way. They don’t care who gets hurt on their way to achieving this ultimate goal. The very thought of winning brings a sadistic grin and an evil laugh to their lips. They never win the war but remain persistent, as the good guy strikes them down just in time. In the end we may never know what they’d have done with all that power. 

The bad guy never wins, right. Right? 

Well, sometimes they do.  If you want to create a bad guy who wins in the end, by all means, feel free to do so. But remember that if you do this, you’ll need an antagonist who is original and interesting. Maybe someone who makes us question our own sense of morals and values. Someone we may end up even liking or rooting for. Otherwise, no one will want to read your story…at least not twice.

Ah, villains. Like with any character, research is your friend. 

BUT, that is not everything I’m going to say regarding this topic. It’s easy to fall into a cliché when writing a bad guy, no matter how much research you do. You’ve got to put some thought into it.

What is “evil” for you? Normal people make mistakes all the time. That doesn’t make them evil. Is stealing or killing evil? What if you don’t mean to do it? What if you do it to save your own life, or someone you care for? Is it evil then? 

What separates a good person who does “bad things” from a bad person who does bad things? Most humans aren’t perfectly good or perfectly evil. We are all various shades of gray, and we spend our lifetimes defining just what that means and how we came to be who we are. I’ve never in my life met a person who was “evil” for the sake of being evil. I’ve met some people who are walking what I would call a “dark path,” but that doesn’t necessarily make them “bad.” Define what evil is in your opinion and that will give you the basis from which to grow this dark character.

Then, everything is going to be about the motive. Give them a motive, a reason why they do such things. That is the main way to make an antagonist that isn’t a walking cliché. 

What I’ve seen people fail to notice is that a motive to do evil things doesn’t necessarily mean something big or something you’re used to (e.g. money, revenge, power). It doesn’t lay on whether to give or no a villain a motive, it lays on what motive you give them, the type of motive you give them. Depending on the motive, you will make them likeable, or truly scary.

However this Masterlist isn’t entirely about villains or the people keeping your good guy from doing their thing. Sometimes you want to write an interesting protagonist whose environment or approach isn’t what you’d call very nice (Maybe there’s something on anti-heroes).

Let’s just say it’s about writing certain characters. You get to decide if you want to write them as antagonists or protagonists. Some of these are “they are what you make them out to be”.

Here are tips for the following: villains, anti-villains, serial killers, psychopaths and sociopaths, criminals, terrorists, abusive characters, and other.

STEP ONE. Villains & Antagonists

STEP TWO. Anti-Villains

The anti-villain is rarely encountered in literature, because most villains do what they do from motives of selfish gain or vengeance, and use methods generally regarded as evil. But occasionally a story will contain one or more single-minded characters who actually are serving the cause of good rather than evil, and justice rather than mere personal vindication. Such a character is an anti-villain. Like a classical villain, he will be stopped only by death, defeat or surrender. Unlike the classic villain, his cause is just rather than unjust.

STEP THREE. Serial killers.

STEP FOUR. Psychopaths and Sociopaths

Sociopath vs Psychopath

STEP FIVE. Cannibals

STEP SIX. Misc. Criminals

STEP SEVEN. Terrorists

STEP EIGHT. Abusive Characters (tw)

STEP NINE. Just… jerks

When writing a character that is, let’s say, racist, you should remember that your character isn’t you. Ergo, writing a character that is racist (or homophobe, or offensive in any way) does not make you insensitive, nor offensive yourself. As long as in writing whatever you’re writing you leave clear such themes will be touched.

-Alex

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