It only takes a quick flip through the pages of the most beloved and timeless books to find one common theme – love. And with good reason. Romance is enchanting, intoxicating, exciting, and arguably down right addictive. You’d be hard-pressed to find anything in the universe holding more influence. It can create a hypothetical fairytale, filling our hearts and minds with visions of eternal happiness and happily ever-after. Unfortunately, we learn as we grow it’s not all warm and fuzzy wonder. There’s a dark side to love. One that can take a perfectly innocent heart and crush it to pieces. It is from these ashes that villains are made.
If you’ve ever read one of my books, you’ll notice I have a pension for zooming in on the uncomfortable creation of evil. I’m a strong believer that in life we’re all born with an equal chance of going one way or the other. None of us are born wicked; we’re made that way. The path to hero or villain is complicated, dependent on circumstance, coping skills and surrounding support systems (or lack thereof). To write a great villain, you should be willing to wade in their realm. See the world through their eyes and justify their actions, even if your hero/heroine can’t. Heartbreak is a powerful catalyst for action, and allowing a glimpse into your antagonist’s prospective adds an entirely different layer to the story.
The very best villains, the ones who stick with us past the final page, are the ones we can relate to in some way. When we can say, “I understand why he/she feels the way they do, and I could’ve gone that direction, too,” we can truly immerse ourselves in the story. Once we’re that invested, we can get excited when the heroine defeats that darkness, because in some strange way it’s like they did it for us. The difference between the good and evil may seem like a chasm, but I think when you take a closer look, it’s more like a crack.