Our Round Robin topic today is villains. Right now, I feel like a villain for being so late on my blog post, but, hey, I am distracted of late and just fresh off of EPICon. Going to conferences always seems to throw me off for a few days. Of course, I was late last month as well. Time to set reminders. Or set more reminders. LOL
Are villains really necessary? It depends on the book. Obviously, if you are writing a mystery, thriller, suspense, or horror (depending on the horror), villains are definitely necessary. Science fiction and fantasy genres also seem to do well with villains. (Imagine Star Wars without it.)
In romance, I think it’s possible to get away without a villain, although you do see them a lot, but different types of villains. Most romances from the 80s that I remember (I’m dating myself, I know.), there was another woman trying to steal the hero away. Even in one of our contemporary erotic romances, Teacher’s Pet by Kenzie Michaels, there is a conniving other woman trying to break up the hero and heroine. It works creating tension and drama. And, in my own paranormal short story Hieroglyphs, I have a villain, but it’s not really romance. Without the villain, the story falls apart.
Some people love to hate good villains. I have to say, I easily hated the Elk Man in the Medicine Man series by S.R. Howen. He’s extremely evil and easy to hate. He’s so evil you can’t help but root for the good guys.
But what makes a good villain? And do I want to see the villains point of view throughout the book? Personally, I don’t care to see it. I’ve read books where it definitely enhances the story and it works (Eg. Blood on the Pen by David Huffstetler and Teresa D’Amario’s Visions of Fire and Ice), but I’ve also read books where the villain’s point of view takes all of the suspense out of the story.
So, a good bad guy needs to be intelligent and preferably Machiavellian. Having a reason for their evil deeds is helpful, but not necessary if they are suitably and consistently evil. They don’t need to be three dimensional, but they do need to serve a purpose. And, please, do not insert a scene of them explaining their reasonings for their evil deeds at the end of the book to “wrap everything up.” I hate that. If you are going to have a villain and they are going to get at least one scene, add more. Give me more. Not a drive by. Those types of scene completely ruin a book for me.
But that’s just me. Some of my favorite are:
Do you think villains are a necessary component to a good story? Does it depend on the genre? And, if so, do you like having their points of view in the book or not?
Be sure to stop and see what everyone else thinks: