At the writing conference I attended a week ago, a psychologist spoke about creating villains.
Funny, cause I don't think of my novels as having villains, but every novel has something or someone the main character must struggle against. As Carolyn Kaufman began to explain how to give rise to the perfect villain, I realized that a number of characters in my latest novel might be villainous.
The perfect villain is someone who "pushes your hero's buttons," Kaufman explained.
I hadn't thought about that. I began to consider my current main character Fia, whose goal is to have a happy family. Her husband could be the villain as he opts for money over family. The Frenchman bad guys struggles to be free of a controlling family. Lots of family buttons being pushed. That makes me happy.
"The villain will personify the dark side of the hero," Kaufman explained. The villain must be the hero's shadow, that dark side. "Think of the things that you consider the darkest, most heinous. That's what is in your shadow," she said.
Kaufman went on to explain some hero/villain duos. Bilbo and Gollum. Luke and Darth Vader.
"A truly great villain personifies your hero's dark side and what your hero will become if he falls prey to that dark side of himself," Kaufman said.
I would add here Harry Potter and Voldemort. JK Rowling made it so clear throughout her books that the main differences between Harry and Voldemort were the choices that Harry made to do good rather than evil.
So the hero should be tempted to give up that important thing, to turn to the dark side, but resist.
Kaufman had a lot of great insights and tools in her book The Fiction Writer's Guide to Psychology and on her website at Archetypewriting.
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