The Foreboding Villain: The Unique Bad Guy

Hello everyone, we're back for another post on villainy! I hope you enjoyed the last one. (To read the last post, click HERE)

In the last post I discussed the importance of creating a villain. I also pointed out that most- if not all- villains seek and want some sort of power. You can rip apart any villain's back-story and in a way, they're seeking some sort of power or another. But how do we use the age old tale of power, revenge, love, etc. Without having a stereotypical bad guy?

That's what today's post is about. Today we're going to talk about how to make your villain unique.

What does he want?

Villains want something, just like good guys. But what they want is not what your protagonist (main good character) wants. Usually. Bad guys are opposing the good guys. But how do we do that creatively?

Well, what exactly does your bad guy want? Write down what your bad guy wants, why he wants it, etc. Do it without thinking of the good guy. I want you to imagine that the bad guy is the main character of the story. (The reason why is because a lot of people create a bad guy simply to oppose the good guy, whereas he actually is a person, too, and probably wouldn't be opposing your good guy if he weren't trying to take what he wanted.)
Now, I want you to think about the bad guy. What is he going to do to get this thing (whatever it is?) and how is this going to affect your main character?

Next, think about what your bad guy's interests are. I want you to write down three things he likes, and three things he doesn't like. Treat him like a person, because he is one! You want to know this bad guy well, because he's going to be causing you a lot of grief later on. (That was a pun... corny. Whatever.)

"But," someone might ask, "This doesn't answer the question of how to make the bad guy unique. How do we do that, seeing how he's just going to be doing the same thing every other bad guy that's ever been created out there has done?"

Excellent question. I want to share some examples of two villains that have strangely similar stories...

Walter Donovan (From Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade)
Easy going
No sense of honor
Will do whatever it takes to get what he wants

Charles Muntz (From Up)

Will do whatever it takes to get what he wants

BASIC PLOT OF INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE: Walter Donovan is introduced as a rich American businessman who hires Indiana Jones to go and find what happened to Indy's father by picking up the search for the holy grail. Indy discovers some clues that lead him to a map to find the holy grail, which he thinks will lead him to his dad, but then he's caught by the Nazis. It turns out, the Nazis are working with Donovan, who'd planned it out that Indy would be able to find the final clue to the grail if he kidnapped Indy's father. When Indy and his dad escape, Donovan orders one of his Nazi minions to go after Indy, and resumes the search for the grail. Upon finding the site, Indy and his Dad are caught and brought to Donovan, and Donovan shoots Indy's father without blinking an eye and says, "If you want to save him, you have to retrieve the grail. Because the grail is the only thing that will save your father's life." 
So Indy goes through all the steps to get to the grail, leading the way so Donovan can follow. Upon entering the grail room, they discover a gazillion cups and they have to choose one to try. Only one is the true grail, the rest will kill you. One of Donovan's associates picks a grail for him and he drinks from it- and it kills him. Thus, Donovan is killed by his obsession over the grail.

BASIC PLOT OF UP: Charles Muntz is a young and dashing scientist who explores the never before seen Paradise Falls, returning with the skeleton of a giant bird. When no one believes him that it's real, Muntz vows he won't return from Paradise Falls until he captures the bird alive. Many years later, the hero Mr. Fredrickson and his young friend Russell arrive in Paradise Falls and are caught by talking dogs. The dogs bring them to Muntz, Fredrickson's childhood hero. Muntz welcomes them to the falls and invites them to dine with him, but when he hears they may have been in contact with the bird, he starts talking about the many people who've come "searching" for the bird- and eludes to the fact none of them survived after he got through with them. Fredrickson and Russell escape, Muntz sending his dogs after them while he goes and searches for the bird. He finds the bird and captures it, taking off with it.
When Russell tries to save the bird, Muntz puts him on a lift and turns it on, which would have resulted in Russell falling to his death from thousands of feet high from Muntz's blimp if Mr. Fredrickson hadn't saved him. Then Muntz chases after Fredrickson, who sneaked onto the blimp, and tries to kill him with a sword. In the final showdown, Muntz races after Russell and the bird and leaps out to grab them- but his leg gets tangled in a balloon and he falls to his death. Thus, Muntz is killed by his obsession over the bird.

How many of you noticed this parallel? How come there aren't more people out there who are ranting and raving over how similar Charles Muntz is to Walter Donovan?

Simple: there are enough character differences in Muntz and Donovan that you don't notice they have basically the same story.

Donovan is easy-going. Muntz is a go-getter. Donovan prefers to have people do the work for him. Muntz does it all himself. Donovan is quite soft-spoken. Muntz can get very worked up and passionate.

You see what I'm going for here? These two villains have basically the same plot. But look! No one notices, because their characters are different enough that we don't see the similarities. Characters change your perspective. Characters drive a story. Character is the basis for everything.

So, now we've got the example of how to create a unique character, even if the plot isn't unique. In the next post, we're going to discuss putting this information together to form a bad guy that fits your story.

Until next time! (Whenever I get to writing that post, basically.) :P


  1. I really love these posts/tips! They've been really helpful :)
    So. . .now I NEED the next post! Like. . .now!! (No pressure, okay? B-) )
    I'll be looking for it! :)

    1. Haha, I'll get to it soon! I promise. I'm writing so much right now that it's hard. :)

  2. Yes, yes! I need the next post too! Can't wait and thank you so much for posting these!

    1. You're welcome! Next post will come soon... sometime. ;)

  3. I need the next post too! :D ;)
    These ARE really helpful. Thanks Emily! :)

    1. Third time around... yes, new post will come soon. ;) You're welcome!

  4. Me four! ;) I'm really enjoying these!

    ~Lydia~ <3

    1. FOURTH time around (wow you guys, you really want these, don't you? :P) yes, new post will come soon! Thanks for commenting!

  5. These are SO helpful! Keep them coming (PLEASE!!) ;P

    1. Okidoki, will do, Rebekah! :) Thanks for commenting!

  6. These posts are very interesting...thanks for taking the time to write them :D

    1. You're welcome, Lauren! Thanks for commenting. :)


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