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  1. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    Relatable Villain?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by starsystemcorvus, Jan 30, 2015.

    Hey, everyone! Very new to the whole forum scene (As of today to be more accurate) so I'm sorry if this seems a little clunky.

    Anyway, in the sci-fi/fantasy story I'm currently developing I want to create a villain who is relatable and that the reader can sympathize with. I'm not trying to create a sort of "who is really the villain here?" situation but instead have it acknowledged that their emotional state/feelings are valid and that the way they are going about remedying their situation is destructive and wrong. But at the same time, I don't want readers to side with the villain and think that the heroes are bad people for wanting to get in their way and stop them.

    Does anyone have any tips for writing this sort of situation or have any examples from other stories they've read that I could check out?
     
  2. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    A relatable character is a human character.
    Same goes for villains.
     
  3. J Faceless
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    J Faceless Active Member

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    A good villain doesn't think they are the villain. They aren't going to destroy that planet because its blocking their view of Uranus. They're going to destroy it because they think its the right thing to do. A villain may just have a different moral code, or background. Life forced them into who they are, and your protagonist may not have had to go through those same horrors.
     
  4. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    Perhaps a villain who is conflicted about their "evil" actions or a villain has had a difficult past that has shaped them into "becoming the bad guy".

    A villain who does bad things for a good cause works too. Mr Freeze, for example commits crimes in order to get justice for and/or help his dying wife.
     
  5. starsystemcorvus
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    starsystemcorvus Member

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    @J Faceless .Ah. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. I don't know why I didn't think about that before. She would definitely have risen to her evil self due to her past/origins since she was essentially forced painfully into a role she doesn't belong in and is trying to revert herself back to what she was at the cost of literally everything and everyone in existence.
     
  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Imagine the classic philosophical thought exercises where you are given two evil options and asked to pick the lesser of the two. Now pick one of those dilemmas, one of the really famous ones, and evaluate the (bad) options that you are given. Try to decide which is the lesser of two evils in your mind and try to commit yourself to the idea that, had this been a real emergency, you would've taken that option instead of the worse one.

    Did you manage to pick one that makes you less uncomfortable than the other?

    You now know how to think like a villain :cool:

    A truly good person would want to create a third option from scratch instead of assuming that there are only two.

    Trolley about to kill either one fat man or 5 children depending on which track you send it down? Send it down the fat man's track and then jump in front of it before it hits him, slowing it down so that it only injures him.
     
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  7. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I would have to strongly disagree with this line of reasoning. Not killing yourself to save a random person is not enough to make you a villain, nor is failing to recognise the sacrificial choice.
    I do sort of get what you mean, but I would have to disagree on the use of the word villain. To me, a villain is not the same as an antagonist, nor are they a morally questionable character, but rather, a evil, spiteful, malevolent, cruel and malicious person.
     
  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just as "killing the fat man vs. killing the children" were not the only options (as you could've also sacrificed yourself), so too are "sacrificing yourself vs. killing the fat man vs. killing the children" not the only options either (as you could put something heavy in the track machinery so that the car does not go down either track).

    I see your point too, I just think that "amoral" (don't mind if they hurt people) villains can be just as nasty as the "immoral" (want to hurt people) villains.
     
  9. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    That makes sense, but I do think the trolley problem was a poor choice of example to explain that, since in its most common forms there are explicitly only two options (no time to derail or slow down the cart, no chance to sacrifice yourself).
     
  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    This may sound like "Who is the villain" but the best thing I can think of is from a show called digimon. A martial artist master says something like;

    "This reminds me of a story. A king sent his men to find the holy sword that would save his kingdom. When the men were meant with resistance they destroyed it. To the men that died, these knights likely seemed like villains but to the people of the kingdom they were likely heroes. Villain is only perspective."

    So like
    said.

    The point is to make us understand them. While they may be a villain it is a title that will work against you. They are more clearly people with goals and dreams that conflict with the main character. Right?
     
  11. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Not necessarily.
    The villain doesn't have to be set against the main character.
    Depends on the kind of story you're writing, though.

    Think of a mother who would kill or worse for her children.
    She's a good person but to keep her family alive she had no choice but to become cruel.
    If you're writing about people, then it's all about realism.
    The MC can be their own villain or their goals might not be directly against one another.
    Completely depends on what you're writing about.
     
  12. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Fair enough. Didn't "I am Legend" do something similar?
    Main point I was trying to get at is relatable people tend to have reasons. So a relatable villain is one who has reasons and isn't just doing it because the plot demands it.
     
  13. Void
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    Void Contributing Member

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    I might have ranted about this type of topic on these forums before, but I personally prefer to just drop heroes and villains entirely, and instead have character(s) who happen to be the protagonist(s), and character(s) who happen to be the antagonist(s). Sometimes (usually) the protagonist(s) happen to have the moral high ground, sometimes, not.
    It seems a lost cause to start from a point of "this character is evil. Now why are they evil and how do I throw in some token gestures to make them relatable?"
    You would probably be better off making them a human character with actual personality, whose experiences and beliefs have shaped them to their current form.

    But if you want some quick relatability, then I would suggest giving them friends and family. This isn't really how to make them less evil, it's more about how to not fall into the trap of dehumanising the antagonists. Often you will find that while the protagonist is surrounded by loved ones, antagonists rarely have friends, family or love interests, unless those friends, family or love interests are also evil.
     
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  14. theoriginalmonsterman
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    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Relatable and Villains don't really mix together well. I see what you're trying to do, but the thing that makes villains "villains" is that their way of thinking is completely messed up or completely opposite from the reader/protagonist. If you make a Villain relatable well that kills the purpose sort of.
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bro, that's not a good person. She's an awful person.
     
  16. A.M.P.
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    Entirely untrue.
    If you're doing the whole "good vs evil" thing, then yeah, the bad guy is bad because he is bad.
    And the entire idea that the villain must have something wrong with them is just asinine.
    Bad people do bad things because they think they have to, there is no other way, or they believe they're right.

    Cruella deVille was the villain in 100 Dalmatians.
    She wanted a fur coat made of puppies.
    She wasn't psychologically damaged or twisted, she just did not love animals. Like, at all. Besides for their fur.

    Cercei Lannister spends the entire series of aSoIaF protecting her children and assuring them a good life by being evil and cruel to those who could jeopardize that.

    Agent Smith from the Matrix believed humanity was a sickness on the planet and needed to be cured.
    Not something many would overly agree with but it certainly humanized him.

    Classic Loki vs. Thor stories.
    Under-appreciated, overshadowed by his brother, ridiculed, Loki wants to prove himself and that leads him down a dark path.
    But he is far from being a villain to be a villain. He has his reasons, and we can understand why he does what he does.

    Regina Mills from Once Upon a Time.
    She was so angry for losing all that mattered to her that she took it out on the world.
    And despite her bests attempts to become good, she keeps falling back to the dark side.
    I know I wanted to burn a few countries to the ground when I lost love. Empathy, mate.

    Villains are villains because they go against our morals, views of the world, or we are simply rooting for another team.
    A villain who is a villain to be a villain is a plot device. They have no reason to be except to be evil and are usually an evil priest or tyrannical king or any random bad guy from Indiana Jones.


    Hush, you >.>
     
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  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One point I never see made is that there is more than one villain in the world. Stalin and Hitlet were enemies.


    The guys in the usual suspects were not good guys. They were criminals. But when compared to Kaizer Soze(however you spell it) we rooted for them.


    Humbert Humbert in Lolita was bad, but his nemesis was worse.
     
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