How To Create A Memorable Villain For Your Novel

Ideas For A Villain To Remember

Here are some ideas to create a villain that people will remember long after they finish your book.

  1. They Have A Dark Past.

Your villian needs to have a dark past, something that’s happened to them that has morphed their personality into something completely different than what it was before. No one starts out evil, but people are influenced by what happens to them when they’re younger. How did they become the person they are today? What’s the motivation behind their actions? You’ll want to expand on this when writing.

2. They Believe They Speak The Truth

Villains have an unwavering belief that their actions are completely valid. It doesn’t matter what they do or how horrific it might be. They have justifications in everything they do. Write about those justifications in your novel.

3. They Experienced A Rough Childhood

A common trait for a villain is experiencing a bad upbringing. Maybe your villain was abused by their parents. Maybe their parents ended up in jail and your villain couldn’t handle the stress of taking everything on by himself. Your brother beat you up or you were bullied in school and now you need to get revenge.

4. Their Parents Died At The Hands of Someone Else

This is a common revenge story. Your parents are killed by someone else and you spend your entire life getting revenge for them. How did they die? How did that impact your future? Batman is a common example. Growing up without parents can have a negative impact on a young child, which can create a great villain.

5. They’ve become someone else.

You can slowly change them over time. They can have good intentions in the beginning of the story and that can evolve. The perfect example would be Walter White in Breaking Bad. He started out trying to save money for his family because he knew he was going to die of cancer and then of course later he became Heisenberg.

6. They Have A Brilliant Mind

Your villain can be as smart as they come. In many cases, that’s how they’re able to pull off these atrocities without getting caught. They’re smarter than everyone in the room. Just because someone’s bad, it doesn’t mean you have to dumb them down.

7. They Should Look The Part

Your villain should look scary. People should know they’re the villain when they see them. This makes them larger than life and scarier in person. Darth Vader is a cool and menacing figure even in his suit. Hannibal Lecter has a look that says, “Don’t come near me if you want a cupcake.” He does like eating though.


Your villain should frighten someone by appearance alone, let alone his actions, which can be much worse. Your villain can portray any type of personality you want, but try to make him or her memorable and delve into their past.

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