Developing Characters: Villains, Part 1

Good morning, fellow imaginers! Welcome to your weekend edition of the YJBLiterary blog! I hope you’ve had a great week, and I’m happy to have you all back for today’s article. Metamorphs 3 is now available to purchase on all major e-book retailers and Amazon, so make sure to grab a copy of the mind-blowing sequel this weekend! I have links to all of my books on the website under the “Books” tab above. 

Today, I wanted to explore one of the main characters of Fallout, the antagonist, General Derek Stone. I’ve been reading a lot about world building this week, particularly when it comes to character design and thought it would be a great idea to show you all how I came to develop the novel’s villain. To me, creating the perfect villain is essential if you want to write a powerful story. Often times, the hero and their counterpart are so polar opposite that it’s difficult to find the antagonist interesting at all, leading to a weaker story. As a reader, we want to be just as invested in the villain as we are the hero as it makes for more powerful emotions and higher stakes. A villain that we can relate to or empathize with is one that is memorable and appealing, leading us to become more involved in the novel’s outcome and character development. In my opinion, creating a complex villain is just as, if not more, important as designing an appealing hero. 

When creating a character, it is vital that we make them as three dimensional as possible. While based in fiction, within their world, they need to be real people, with real dreams and aspirations. A dastardly villain who wants nothing more than to tie up helpless maidens on railroad tracks while twiddling his elaborate mustache and flapping his cape because he has nothing better to do is simply…boring, not to mention unrealistic. Those days are long gone, and as a reader, if we are to become invested in a novel, we demand more depth when it comes to character design. Generally, when creating a character, I strive to answer six main aspects of the individual which I believe epitomizes who they are and their place within this world. If you can answer these six questions, the character will practically write themselves as you introduce them into the story. Here is an example based around General Stone: 

Who: General Derek Stone

Physical Description: 6’0, 210lbs. 51 years old. The grizzled, military veteran is extremely well built, his physical fitness belying his advanced years. He is heavily scarred on his face and his body bears many severe burns from a previous incident in his past. His thick, grey hair and cold eyes combine with a constant frown upon his hardened expression. Actor comparison- Josh Brolin. 

Intangibles (Strengths/Weaknesses): Derek is extremely determined and hard working. While not academically brilliant, he is a genius tactician and a leader of men. He is willing to do what others won’t for the greater good and is steadfast in his beliefs. On the other end, he is headstrong and subconsciously bigoted.  He has an ego that leads him to bend the rules to conform to his view of the world and too often sees things in terms of black and white. 

Values: Family, loyalty to one’s country, the safety of innocents, justice, discipline, and order.

Ambition: Wants to protect those who are unable to defend themselves, restore order and uniformity to the world, and expose those whom he views as dangers.

Goal: To enact the Metamorph Registration Act, create and lead the S.W.A.R.M. in order to maintain control over the metamorph population, and get his revenge for the death of his family.

With this outline in place, I can now bring my character to life, allowing him to make decisions and alter our hero’s circumstances based upon his characteristics. His actions and decision making now have something to be based upon and make sense. They also allow the reader to better understand and feel for the antagonist, as he has many traits which they can easily identify with. Even if you don’t agree with his behavior, you now have a better understanding of them. 

I hope you all enjoyed this article and that it gave you a better idea of how to build a better character. Make sure you subscribe to the blog and newsletter, and until next time, keep imagining!

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

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