1. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    Suggestions on developing a villain

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by stampman, Aug 24, 2015.

    Hey guys, I'm rather new here. I've recently started writing a book around the premise of powered people, or super heroes. I'm trying to make all my characters sympathetic and realistic with good motives for whatever their actions may be. Enter one of my villains, Connor McKennon, or to some, Mister Misery. And yes I realize the name is hokey, it's meant to harken back to golden and silver age heroes. His ability is to send signals to nerve endings, creating pain in people. Now, here is where his character developed. Having been the result if some experimentation with genetics himself, he is both fascinated and appalled with empowered individuals. The abilities astound him the actions that come as a result of these powers have him convinced that nobody knows how to handle these powers responsibly other than himself. As such, his aim is to have all gifted individuals under the thumb of a strong government, with him ideally at the helm. Calvin has begun experimentation at a few locations under the guise of advancing medical research in his company, McKennon Medical. He has become increasingly estranged with his family, and has to cover the secret of his father's death, which he caused as a child.
    EDIT: Hobbies include golf, reading, and genetic experimentation. Extremely charismatic to the public eye, and does a host of charitable things. Behind closed doors he is a recluse bent on "saving" humanity from these perceived threats. As far as weaknesses go, in terms of constitution, he is a normal man. Often he is obsessed and egotistical. Think evil Tony Stark (which Superior Iron Man actually kind of did) but with even more obsession.
    Well there you have it. Any suggestions? I am open to anything, whether it be motive changes or personality traits. Thanks so much!
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2015
  2. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well what is he like beyond a power mad egomaniac? Just asking as you really haven't given much in the way of his personality. Does he have a goofy hobby? What are his weaknesses? Other than he hides the fact he killed his father (assuming that he did so with his powers). Sounds like he is in conflict with other super powered individuals, as well as himself. Not sure what to tell you with out the afore mentioned questions as to what makes him what he is personality wise.
     
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  3. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    See edit ^
     
  4. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    He sounds fairly average rich type, but with the ability to cause pain in the subjects nerve endings. Not to bad a guy really, despite his few flaws. To be honest sounds more like the 'road to hell is paved in good intentions' type. In his mind he sees himself as good, but he has parts of him that tamper with the good making him seem evil. As far as I can tell you have a guy that can be really manipulative, playing the good guys in thwarting them from what he is doing. Or using his high degree of intellect to sway public opinion about the good guys, so that the public favors him and his ideals. Would be interesting if he were to invite the leader of the good guys to a round of golf and psychologically mess with him through out the match. It has potential and you have a lot of options to consider. Besides it is only the villains mind set that can be hokey, even the silliest of names can be feared. Take Sweet Tooth from the Twisted Metal series video games. Drives an ice cream truck has a pushover cheesy nick name. Brutal serial killer that wears a clown mask, and has literal fire for hair. Think he let a little mocking stop him from winning a demolition death competition. Hell no! He used his strengths to kick ass and take names. So play to the villains strengths, make him charismatic and charming (think evil James Bond) or like cunning Lex Luther. You have got potential to have a great villain even if he has a corny nick name. What makes him scary is what and how he does things, not what he calls himself.
     
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  5. stampman
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    One of the scenes I have more or less written is McKennon inviting an old friend of his father's out for a lunch, in the hopes of gaining some political support. The man politely states that McKennon may be a great philanthropist and excellent speaker, but he will be backing another opponent. McKennon slowly begins building pressure on the nerves in the man's head, causing an increasingly bad headache, all while maintaining a civil and polite conversation. He isn't above hurting people in order for his goals to come to fruition.
     
  6. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I hear ya. I have a character that is pretty nasty in his own right (just doesn't have abilities beyond what he has developed as a soldier). You have to have him do what he feels is in his best interests. Though the civility of it is a nice touch.
     
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  7. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    And in a way, he's very much like a spoiled child who doesn't get his way. Causing the elderly man pain won't accomplish anything, he just wants t see him squirm because he doesn't agree, and he will get progressively more sinister as the book (and series) progresses.
     
  8. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well then play up his nature as a 'spoiled brat'. All I can do is offer suggestion. It is up to you to define him as a character. Try looking into 500 Questions to Help Flesh Out Your Character for the kindle. I think it is free, or dirt cheep. Has lots of things to help you figure out how your character will be, but you have to answer the questions as the character as best you can. Otherwise I am a bit stumped as to how to best help you, as I did not read comics as a kid. There are resources available on amazon that are free or relatively inexpensive that you may find helpful. Perhaps someone else may have a better idea of how to help you. Forgive me, but I don't hold all the answers. I can only offer suggestion.
     
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  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you got the base of knight templar. If you know what that means.

    Writing stuff like this, it is like building a house. This is the blue print. As good as the blue print might be, it is worthless if certain things don't work. Such as the material you got isn't strong enough or the workers are miscalculating, ext. Yet give a good worker a bad blue print and he can edit it in his head and make a house.

    If you get the point of the anology my advice is not to get too hung up on this step. I like thinking about this stuff too. So I suppose my question is this; what is wrong?

    A man in a world with powers who has taken damage and now feels it is his job to control the world in order to protect it.

    ^ that sounds not only real, relatible, it has been done. Heck Magneto, to Dr. Doom, to even Lex Luthor can all pretty much be described by that one sentence and they are pretty good vilians right?
     
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  10. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    Agreed. And that was sort of my inspiration. Because for the most part nobody sees themselves as evil, even if they recognize they are using extreme measures.
     
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  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    So I will ask again. What is the problem? I would love to help. Help anyone if I can. I just don't see what is missing or incomplete or even bad about what you got.

    :)
     
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  12. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    Well it's not so much that I'm not happy with what I have. I was just curious if anybody had anything that could be tweaked or added or taken away from.
     
  13. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    There really isn't enough information. Not to me at least. Not that I am suggesting adding more. Just this is a creative writing place. I don't want to just shower you with ideas. It is likely you have sort of a picture in your head. It is a bit more about reaching that, instead of just getting random ideas.

    Now I have a question. You said you are not happy with what you have. How come? What aspect bothers you?
     
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  14. stampman
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    stampman Member

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    No, I am happy with it. I just wanted some outside opinions on what could use more work.
     
  15. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sorry about that. i usually try to reply faster.

    Yeah if you don't have a problem or issue there is not nearly enough information.

    The problem is not how much information you put here though. The problem is there is way to many factors involved for this kind of rating. As I said. I could sum up the basic of you character in one setence(golf, isn't really notable. lol)

    And that sentence can also sum up my own villain, as well as half a dozen successful vilians right off the top of my head.

    A deeper rating would take more infortion on the would, and the theme of the world. Because if the choices you picked that make him different than Dr.Doom are good choices depend on his invironment. Which is not really the kind of discussion you can strike up well inside a thread. You would probably have much better luck doing so with a private message to soemone that is interested. :)

    Does that make sense? Sorry if it seems off topic.
     
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  16. Capricorn42
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    Don't want to get bogged down in detail, but any villain is only a villain to some people, to others he/she is a hero. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to establish who thinks this guy is a villain, and why, and who thinks they are a hero, and why. This might give you more ideas as to the man's character.

    "..He isn't above hurting people in order for his goals to come to fruition.."

    This does sound like a guy who doesn't much care for people generally. In that case, maybe he doesn't much care for himself, either. Low self esteem? Paranoia? These things often lead to a certain numbness when trying to relate to other people. Basically, big chip on shoulder.
     
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  17. Gavin Wadsworth
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    Gavin Wadsworth New Member

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    So it sounds like you're trying to create a sympathetic villain. Someone who started out on a moral high ground and thinks they're still on it. But really they've gone too far. That's my favorite kind of villain, honestly.

    One thing that can really help characterize the villain is to give them a line that they won't cross. He thinks he's the hero of his own story. He thinks he's doing the right thing. And giving him a reluctance to cross a certain moral barrier would make him that much more interesting.

    Because evil characters are hardly ever evil all the way through. They have standards just like everyone else.

    Anyway, hope that was helpful in some way. :)
     
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  18. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Not trying to give you the core of your character or anything, but I really like what you have going on here.

    The 'causing pain in other people' ability opens you up to a few different strategies on getting what you want; especially if he thinks of himself as a strict but fair teacher of humanity- as opposed to hurting people for personal gain. He could easily build up an army using Pavlovian Conditioning (every time someone disobeys him he causes pain, when they do what he needs... can he cause bliss?)

    He might need some sort of creed, people need to experience pain, in themselves and others, before they're able to understand the human condition, who they really are, and what the 'greater good' is (i'd really stress the greater good bit, that way whenever a hero comes up and challenges him he has a quick go to for mental acrobatics to dismiss their point of view).

    All lesser being are children who need to be taught a lesson.

    It works out really well if he runs a medical corporation, he could trick people into thinking they're 'sick' (maybe even pretend his pain ability is a sickness to pull people in and pretend he has the cure because he can stop it.) and once they're stuck there conduct experiments on them using pain until they're twisted to his needs.


    Anyways, sounds like something I would absolutely read, good luck!
     
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  19. ToeKneeBlack
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    I think some of your villain's disdain for empowered heroes comes from the nature of his own power - all he can do is inflict pain. He can't use that to save a child from a burning building, or stop a plane full of people from crashing into a mountain, for example. In short, he's jealous, since any attempt for him to use his ability will only make people fear him. He might also begin to feel empowered by this fear.

    His suspicions regarding the empowered may also come from not understanding what they want in return for helping people - do they have an ulterior motive? By removing all other threats, will they turn on the people they've been protecting? The villain could be a little paranoid in this regard.
     
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  20. Gavin Wadsworth
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    So this is actually something I'm pretty passionate about. I feel like people often focus on developing strong protagonists, but neglect their poor villains. And some of my favorite villains are the ones who start out with altruistic motives. Which sounds similar to what you're going for with Mister Misery.

    I've actually written an article on the topic that you might find interesting.

    Anyway, have fun with your villainy! I mean, you know, writing a villain. :)
     
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  21. TobeDecided
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    Don't see a villain as someone who does bad just for the sake of it. A villain is a very interesting archetype and can reward one's personal life if explored in the right way. A villain, like a hero, has a definite notion of what the world should look like. It's just that his theory of reality is a bit off-kilter to the normal worldview. He's a contrarian, and rather than accepting the prevalent morals and values, he operates by his own book. A good story highlights this conflict between the two worldviews - the conventional one of the hero and the contrarian one of the villain. I always see his as the path of the left, which if explored well can add depth to the path of the right.

    Don't make him do senseless things - make him do things that he believes are "correct".
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2015
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  22. Red Herring
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    To me, great villains are characters that have a valid reason for what they do, and are willing to make the sacrifice of doing terrible things in order to make their goals happen. Another important thing for a villain is his relationship with the protagonist or hero; I think a ying-yang approach with hero and villain works great for comicbook/superhero stories; and I'm not talking about powers but motivations and actions, sometimes lazy writters use that (spider-man and venom, Iron Man and Iron-Monger, Flash and Reverse Flash, etc)

    My favourite comicbook villain is Magneto, his motivates and his relationship with Prof X is just great.

    Another good example of this is the Daredevil tv series I recently watch on Netflix. Wilson Fisk(aka Kingpin) is fantastically written and develop. His motivates are similar to the hero of the story; he wants to save the city but his actions to accomplish it are completely flawed and horrific. Kingpin and Magneto also have this yang-ying approach to who they are; they both either want a completely diferent thing (peave vs human extinction) or have a different approach to the same goal (saving a city from within the crime syndicates vs destroying the crime syndicates).

    Personally, I like your character's outline.
     
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  23. A J Phillips
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    A J Phillips Active Member

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    Mister Misery sounds kind of like a faux savior, an idea i'm using for a prime character in my own story. It sounds like to the public his intentions are as good as gold, but his ulterior motive is to create a race, Aryan in a sense, of perfect "supers", modeled after himself. I love the idea of his power the ability to inflict pain. It just sounds sinister, totally befitting of a super villain. If he is Tony Stark rich, cunning, and charismatic, perhaps he has reign over his own privatized military, a personal army of sorts. Not just soldiers, but moles who work for him and are able to infiltrate key authority positions in the government, further advancing his rise to power. Since the world is completely yours to craft as you see fit, perhaps he could even rise to full tyranny, the police and government becoming his to command. From here, plans for world domination and the fruition of his schemes could only be that much nearer his grasp, and your protagonist must step up and save the day. Good luck Stampman.
     
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