For the Love of Monsters

 Vampires in the vein of Anne Rice are one of my favorites.  I also love werewolves and ghosts and any number of other monsters that go bump in the night.  But the worst kind of monster is of the human variety.  They're that much more terrifying because they could be real people.  Hannibal Lector is one of the absolute most terrifying villains in my opinion.  He's highly intelligent, articulate, cool under pressure, and there's a method behind his madness.  Creepy. 

Another favorite villain category of mine is creepy children.  Honestly, how disturbing is a crazy little girl?  When I did theatre I often played this type of character and those parts where some of my favorite roles.  Speaking of Anne Rice, Claudia from Interview with the Vampire comes to mind.  Though technically she's not a villain.

Villains and Monsters can make or break a book for me.  They're every bit as important as the hero in my mind (and sometimes even more fun to write).  I'm reading a Dean Koontz book right now for a bit of variety and I'm a bit perturbed by the bad guy.  Its the third book in a series and seems to be the exact same story as the first two.  I won't really go into because I'll probably be posting a review this Sunday, but it got me thinking about bad guys. 

What makes a bad guy good?  And what makes a bad guy eye roll worthy?

For me the absolute worst is when a villain is too one dimensional.  They only focus on being bad with no real motivation behind it.  The scariest bad guys  are the ones who seem real.  They have motivations behind being "bad" and are logical about their actions.  They're cold, calculating, but with purpose. 

Looking at my manuscript there are several bad guys, two that play a very active role.  My book is a supernatural thriller with a big conspiracy element and my villains are human.  I think I did a much better job with one of them than I did the other.  The one I feel good about is a character that I had to rewrite several times.  It is essential that my main character, Brett, feels something for him.  I had to work long and hard on creating a character that could be seen as bad, but whose motivations were pure--at least at the heart of them. 

The other bad guy, well, she needs some work.  I think adding a section towards the end of the book that sheds light on her motivation should help.  This manuscript is the first in a planned trilogy though, so there needs to be room for growth and secrets to discover in her past.

Who are your favorite bad guys?  What scares you most?


  1. Ooh wow I was just about to blog about villains today, myself :D I'm still doing theater, and one of the characters I love the most are the creepy childlike ones. They don't even have to be evil, but they hold a creepy sort of innocence. It's like a facade, because really they're much wiser than any of the other characters, and knowledge in itself can be dangerous.

    I think fantastical villains are the silliest, because they were written to scare children and people who don't know any better. Even bloodthirsy serial killers aren't even that scary, because their murders can be TOO bloody and too much bloodshed can desensitize readers.

    My favorite villains are actual people. They may not have super human strength, but they might be geniuses. Usually they have some psychological problem. The easiest excuse is an antisocial personality disorder, but what I love is a complicated past, maybe with child abuse, neglectful parents, or maybe they're just genetically predisposed to have a short temper. (I'm a psych major so I tend to think about these things a lot :D)

    What I also REALLY love is when a villain doesn't understand that they're doing wrong, or they just don't perceive it that way. They're on their own side in a war and think that they're doing what's best. It just so happens that the party that the reader sides with is against the villain's objective.

  2. Great minds think alike! I totally agree with you about the creepy kids and the villains who just don't get why its wrong to do what they do. That's my bad guy to a T.

    PS: I'm a psych minor so I analyze them like crazy too!


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