What Makes a Good—I Mean, Bad—Villain?
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What Makes a Good—I Mean, Bad—Villain?

Our favorite villains are dastardly, dreadful, and deadly. They reign terror in our stories, evoking fear in characters and readers alike. But what goes into making a memorable villain that readers love to hate? In this episode of Write On, Emma addresses exactly that, and offers up exercises to help you build villains of your own. From their backstories, to their motivations, morals and flaws, we discuss the foundations needed to create compelling villains, as well as the archetypes connected to them. We touch on the difference between protagonists and antagonists, anti-villains and anti-heroes, and what sort of characteristics determine what archetype your villain fills. By following along and answering the questions Emma asks, you too will be able to write a good—I mean, bad—villain.


  1. Protagonists & Antagonists
  2. Anti-Heroes and Heroes
  3. Setting the Stage
  4. What is an Antagonist?
  5. What Makes a Villain?
  6. Defining Your Villain's Appearance
  7. Defining Your Villain's Goal
  8. Giving Your Villain a Backstory
  9. Defining Your Villain's Personality
  10. Defining Your Villain's Daily Life
  11. Creating Drama and Suspense
  12. Villain V.S. Protagonist
  13. Does Your Villain Change?
  14. Does Your Villain Need a Redemption Arc?
  15. Retrospective

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