1. Gammer
    Offline

    Gammer Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Messages:
    119
    Likes Received:
    4

    Charisma or Intimidation?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Gammer, Dec 13, 2008.

    So in my fantasy novel i'm getting close to introducing the main villain. I already have a large portion of his back story written, his powers fleshed out, and general goals planned out.

    My problem is I'm not sure what kind of villain to make him, charismatic? The kind of villain that inspires loyalty, faith, and devotion in others, even if his methods are evil and wrong?

    Or intimating? The kind of villain you just know is evil just by looking at him, rules with fear, and makes the world shake just by his presence?

    With charisma readers will be able to understand why people would follow him, and die for him and his ideals. But I think it would be difficult to really show why he's such a threat to the world. Cause when I think of charisma I think of a guy calmly convincing people to follow him. Not very intimating or villain like especially for a fantasy story.

    But with intimidation I run the risk of falling into a bunch of cliches for fantasy villains. You know large armies, short temper, impatient, etc.... and it also makes it difficult to understand why people would follow him.

    Any ideas will help greatly. Is it possible to even combine the two?
     
  2. garmar69
    Offline

    garmar69 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    26
    You hit on the answer at the end of your post. Make him complex. It will add depth of character.

    I think our moderator Cogito has a write up on this very thing. It may be in his blog, I'm not sure. He'll be around eventually; meanwhile, you may head over to new member introductions and tell us a bit about yourself. Then check out the forum rules. http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?p=101625#post101625
    And http://www.writingforums.org/faq.php
    Good luck and welcome to the forum!
     
  3. architectus
    Offline

    architectus Banned

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2008
    Messages:
    1,796
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Ca
    You can use a combination. Look at Hitler. He was charismatic and fierce.
     
  4. tehuti88
    Offline

    tehuti88 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 13, 2008
    Messages:
    642
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Michigan
    I like the idea of combining the two as well. This is how cult leaders work. They sway people through their charisma, but when that doesn't work, there's always intimidation. Some of the scariest bad guys (IMO) are those you can't help but like in a way, despite how much they scare you.
     
  5. de la vega
    Offline

    de la vega Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2008
    Messages:
    69
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    North Carolina
    It's also important to take your protagonist into consideration as well. You may want to foil the two (hero and villain).
     
  6. HKB
    Offline

    HKB Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2008
    Messages:
    252
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    It has to be a combination I think if it's going to be interesting. As for why someone would follow someone who is merely intimidating and not charismatic, the reason is fear and self preservation, you hope your loyalty will save you from such a person's wrath. You could read biographies of real life examples, such as Hitler and cult leaders, and reading about sociopaths may help. Basing your character in real life examples may keep it believable, not necessarily cliched.
     
  7. jwilder
    Offline

    jwilder Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2008
    Messages:
    80
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Tennessee, USA
    I have a similar character that I'm writing for a story. She is vile beyond compare - I have a hard time writing her scenes sometimes because she's absolutely so evil. She rules through fear and through charisma. Find a balance of both and give your character multiple facets of emotions. Charismatic when he needs to be, cold and ruthless other times. In my case, I've written my character to inspire great loyalty and at the same time she's absolutely heartless to her enemies, and mostly to her people. They follow her because she promises them the wealth and power which they desire, not because they necessarily love her (thus setting the premise for a big power conflict later....)

    Also, to get a perspective on ruling through fear and thus inspiring loyalty, read Machiavelli's "The Prince". A fabulous primer on the traditional thought of ruling through fear vs kindness. It should help give you a better handle on the "rule through fear" side of your character, since you have a pretty good handle on the compassionate side.
     
  8. ConnorMack
    Offline

    ConnorMack Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2008
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    In my opinion a complex villain is the best. I mean, can't you show both sides of a person? When a villain walks in and kills a guy for the sake of killing him, we know automatically he's bad, but what if we see him playing with a puppy? Or child? Or maybe his/her mission or idea seems to be helpful to others, but in fact is the opposite. It's these qualities, both good and bad, that readers relate to, and therefore would be one more reason for someone to love your writing!
     
  9. BG_Hambone
    Offline

    BG_Hambone Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2008
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Somewhere beyond happiness and sadness, a place to
    I know it souinds cliche, but look at some of the villians in the James Bond novels, such as Blofield in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". In this novel, the villian is developing a chemical that, when introduced into the human body, eliminates all food alergies, which is a wonderful humanitarian undertaking.

    On the other side of the coin, he is planning to use this wonder chemical to devistate the world's agriculture, creating a famine of epic proportions, which, of course, is evil.

    I think that sometimes Mr. Fleming gets a tad cliche with his bad guys, but they do have a complexity to them.

    just a suggestion.
     

Share This Page