Monday, October 14, 2013

Creating Vivid Villains

My previous post exposed the protagonist from The Seventh City. Today's post follows up with its villain. Meet Japethihah--high priest to Lamanite king, Lamoni. He can be sly, which evolves into deviousness when his status changes. Authors need to know their antagonist every bit as well as they know their hero. My villain is based off Jafar, the royal vizier in Disney's animated movie Aladdin. It doesn't matter if your inspiration comes from a cartoon, magazine image, or real-life person. Arm yourself with knowledge of what they look like, sound like, what they would do and have done. Keep a spreadsheet or some type of notation system.

Each villain needs flaws and strengths just like the main character does. Japethihah's strengths go beyond his respectable position, which crumbles when missionary Ammon comes to preach. The priest exudes confidence and has a gift for speech. He takes matters into his own hands to secure his marriage to the princess. Readers watch him develop from the slimy way he eyes Karlinah to worrying about him as a danger to her.

Villains not only create blocks in the hero's path, they can add a spicy flavor that makes readers love to hate them. They provide contrast next to the good for readers to measure against and they have their own motivations for their choices. Trouble usually starts out slowly and builds as the story progresses. I'm thinking of two main reasons for this: 1) The author may want to keep the reader in suspense longer over revealing the villain, and 2) The clashes presented to the protagonist are meant to show growth along the way. We can't have all the hero's life-altering decisions in the first chapter. Therefore, the villain doesn't do his/her worst until later. 

Do you realize that villains can take other forms than people? Weather, for instance, can play the villain when that scorching desert or killer wave presses upon your protagonist. Without that villain we wouldn't have problems for the hero to overcome. Have fun making them bad! Just make sure that the worst day coincides with where the crisis should fall. 

Do you have a favorite villain that you love to hate?

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