From Cruella de Vil to Darth Vader, The Main Character Is the Villain Chapter 23 can be captivating characters that add drama and dramatise stories through engaging audiences and the conflict they create in any narrative.
As with any protagonist character, villain protagonists require a goal they strive for; however, these goals may differ significantly than what we might see with heroes. Here we explore three essential characteristics that make a villain protagonist compelling:
Though they might appear similar, your villain was changed by tragic events that stunted their growth and planted seeds of bitterness which manifest in their actions.
Give them a backstory that helps readers connect with them despite their crimes. While this doesn’t excuse their acts, giving them depth gives readers something tangible to relate to in them and helps readers sympathize.
Have a child or pet they adore, adds another dimension to their character, while hobbies and interests such as music or gardening add yet another sphere of complexity that instils belief that they’re more than just some heartless mobster.
Fiction readers appreciate characters with layers, such as Severus Snape from Harry Potter. Fiction readers prefer characters without one-dimensional, clearly evil sides who they can root for without feeling betrayed by an overtly villainous side.
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While protagonist motivation drives the main plotline, antagonist and other non-viewpoint characters must have plausible motivation as well. Even villainous acts must have some sort of explanation behind them for keeping audiences invested in the plot.
At times, this motivation comes from within themselves – something they value highly or their sense of self-worth may serve as motivation, but other times it may stem from needing to overcome trauma, lack of compassion or an act of wrongdoing.
Motivation can take many forms, with consistency and believability being of primary concern. Complex character arcs tend to work best. Furthermore, any discrepancies between stated motivations and real ones should only heighten tension within a plot for maximum reader immersion and enjoyment.
An effective antagonist adds tension and excitement to a story, engaging readers and keeping the protagonist on their toes. A great antagonist should play an integral part of every great tale and keep readers guessing!
An effective antagonist must be believable and make the protagonist work towards victory. They need to be despicable but also have layers, drawing readers in with their humanity; for instance Patrick Bateman from American Psycho had a despicable streak which made him attractive to many; readers are drawn into characters like him who can inspire.
An effective antagonist will be vastly dissimilar from their protagonist in terms of personality, goals, morals, outlook and values – providing an engaging contrast that helps readers empathize with the conflict. They may even physically differ in certain stories! An exceptional villain will also offer plausible justification for their devious acts based on past experience or background knowledge.
An effective antagonist must have powerful skills that allow them to cause trouble for the hero, whether physical, intellectual, or magical – however the key is balancing these with limitations, vulnerabilities or moral dilemmas that make the character feel real and believable.
Villains need flaws just like any other character, particularly ones trying to redeem themselves through hero stories. This gives villain protagonists greater leeway than traditional heroes who are usually limited by stories about legitimate means for redeeming themselves.
On the surface, villains often have an evil goal they need to achieve; however, without complex motivations from the writer, their character will remain flat and uninteresting. By providing additional context – for instance through childhood tragedy or sense of justice gone awry – it becomes possible to add depth to their character while humanizing him or her through interests or hobbies most can identify with.