1. wave1345
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    wave1345 Member

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    The Villain's Ultimate Goal

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by wave1345, Jul 20, 2009.

    I've been stuck on my villain's motivation for a couple of weeks now.
    And while I think I know now why he does what he does, I'm still not
    sure what his ultimate goal is. Increasingly, it's looking to me like it's
    "get to point A, release evil thing B". My biggest problems with that are:

    1. I think it takes away from the significance of my bad guy if his goal is just
    to release a different baddie.

    2. I hate to resort to supernatural things for baddies. This is fantasy, yes,
    but I do want all the good and evil to be as a result of human interactions.

    3. If he does release 'evil thing B', that's pretty much a world-altering event,
    and a big turning point for the story, moving it into a less stable, more
    difficult plot. But if he accomplishes his goal, I have no idea what his new
    one might be.

    Does anyone have any wisdom for me? How do you approach the problem of
    creating a realistic, un-cliched villain?
     
  2. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    Hm, well, there's a few ways to approach this.

    It helps if I know what your villain's actual motivation is, but I'll just try to give some advice and examples.

    Villains seem to almost always have one ulterior motive after another. If they happen to reach their ultimate goal, then you can show what happens or what he/she does with whatever they gained.

    Here's a few examples that may or may not help you get what I'm trying to say:

    Mithos Yggdrasil from the game Tales of Symphonia had the main motive of reviving his sister, Martel, who was killed a long time ago by humans because she and her brother were half-elves. Because this caused Mithos to have hatred and anger towards both humans and elves, he used a lot of different resources (a mystic sword being one of them) to alter the structure of the world which resulted in the world going from one to two. This caused an imbalance of mana flow between the two halves and thus he created the Chosen One sacrificial system not only to keep the worlds mana stable, but to search for suitable vessels for his sister's soul. So his main goal was his sister's revival, but he also aimed to create a world of lifeless beings who would worship him and all be half-elves so that there would be no meaningless discrimination. And to do that he'd have to kill a big number of humans and elves, which is what the Chosen System and his various Human Ranches helped to do. (you might have to play the game to understand any of that...)

    Next example that's a lot simpler:

    Dr. Robotnik in the Sonic The Hedgehog Saturday morning cartoon (the old one) was the advisor to the King (or a researcher. He was something that let him work close to the royal family). However, he wasn't content with this and desired power and so while he played the role of advisor (or whatever..) he was secretly planning a coup. And then when he executed the plan not only did he manage to usurp the throne and turn the world of Mobius into a polluted, robot-filled and tyranny-ruled world but he also sealed away the King so that his position would never be compromised. And then he made himself virtually immortal by robotisizing his insides. The steps he took to reach his ultimate goal, which was ruling the world with an iron fist, thus laid out the setting for a resistance story.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that, villains always have an ultimate goal but they have various steps they have to take to reach that goal. Read any manga or play any video game (or read a well-written book) and the villains in there often take steps that bring them toward the completion of either an ulterior motive or their ultimate goal. In a sense, all ulterior motives, steps and actions usually are done if they benefit the villain by letting him reach his goal. It is when the protagonist interferes with a step or foils an ulterior motive that the villain's path towards his ultimate goal becomes compromised.

    I hope all that made sense >_<.
     
  3. SA Mitchell
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    SA Mitchell Member

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    I think the best way to approach it is to treat them like any other character. That way they won't seem one dimensional.
     
  4. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Kirvee is right - the villain needs motivation, just like your MCs. They need a reason behind everything they are doing. Once they have a reason, it seems to make them more real, rather than have them feel like a stick figure in the background just making things harder for your MCs.
    Everyone has a reason for what they do, especially if it has risks that will pertain to the rest of the world - they have simply decided those risks to be acceptable losses to accomplish his/her gain.
     
  5. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    Read Inkheart, OP? The villain in that book is basically working to summon another baddie, and it does very well there.

    Villains are just like heroes and other characters, they have their motivations, they have their different shades, moods and emotions. Don't make them too overly evil or shallow. Just make them human, like you would your hero.
     
  6. FairyTales&Whiskey
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    FairyTales&Whiskey New Member

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    Generally, the villain could have something massive to gain from it. I don't think it's an entirely new concept, but I like how it could give the story another jolt when a villain succeeds in releasing another form of evil that is twice as wicked as the original evil guy. It would have the reader thinking, "wow, if this guy is such an evil person, then what is the thing that he serves under like?"
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Although he can summon a monster, and that monster can be the new bad guy, he needs a reason to summon the monster in the first place. Something most modivate him to want so badly to conjure up a demon, or whatever.
     
  8. Seppuku
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    Seppuku Member

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    It's perhaps difficult to avoid the evil villain cliche, but perhaps listing these cliches will help - it might getting you thinking along the lines of 'evil'. But here are same concepts:

    -Power: He needs more and more control
    -Greed: He needs to be filthy rich, so he can buy anything he wants
    -Sadism: He just likes being evil because he enjoys it - there is really no end [like the Joker]
    -Revenge: Some one has wrong him - he'll exact revenge, no matter who is hurt along the way
    -Social Hatred: He believes society should pay for something and thus seeks to destroy it. Even if it means blowing up the Galaxy
    -Delusion of moral superiority: he believes the human race to be evil, thus it must be abolished
    -For the will of a deity: His goal is god given, he believes that his god or the gods have given him a special mission or want something they're not getting - this can be combined with the above. He can even bring the apocalypse or something akin to the great flood, he can even raise his god into this world. The same principle works for demons.


    If that helps. ;)
     
  9. B-Gas
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    He may be a villain, but don't you dare go making him cartoonish. Unless you're making a cartoonish villain, who I suppose would be opposed by a band of snarky but lovable woodland creatures and their leader, a wolf/weasel/surprisingly ambulent tortoise. In that case, carry on.

    When you go about creating a villain, make him a hero in his own mind. He might be a bit dark, or a bit more extreme, or a bit quicker to resort to unusual and dangerous measures (i.e. combat, minions, dark magic that stains one's soul) than the hero, but he should wake up each morning and look at himself in the mirror and think, "Yeah, I'm a good guy and I'm doing the right thing."

    If he's summoning a giant, and definably evil, creature, then he's doing it for a reason. Perhaps he wants to end a war that's been plaguing his people for the last few years and is going against the advice of his advisors. Maybe he thinks he can control it, and has been working on such villain-only powers as mind control and hypnosis to do so. Could be that he's actually working in the hero's interest, that freeing this evil thing is the only way to hold back something worse, and that the hero is going to ruin the world by stopping him.

    As for realism and non-cliche, remember that villains are human. Even if they aren't, they still are. A villain who, in every scene we see, drops backstory and angsts about the filthy heroes and their delusions of grandeur, is a cliche. He exists only because the protagonists do. That's the wrong way around. A villain who starts out by messing up a relationship- puts his foot in his mouth with his evil overlady, for example- and worries about that, in a backgroundy-type way, for the rest of the story, is working his way into our affections. We kinda want to see him succeed in that area of his life. A villain who genuinely is working for the greater good, who knows he can succeed and if he does the world will be fixed and clean again, and, most importantly, who really would be a great leader and an amazing king, and has small problems that keep hindering him as well as the big problem of the hero- now we're getting somewhere.

    Another way to make things interesting is to have two "villains," working against each other, throwing bigger fish at each other until on top of trying to mess things up for the hero. "Eternal Darkness," a very cool video game, had three major over-villains; one crushed early on by a choice the player makes, one that rises to power due to that decision, and the third, which you have to side with if the second is to be controlled and destroyed. In addition to that, there was a fourth, who was controlling everything so that, in three different timestreams (three different play-throughs), each of his major opponents would be killed off and he would be free to resurrect himself.
     
  10. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I simply don't define them as such. Whilst one of my characters isn't the nicest of people, he's not doing what he's doing simply for the sake of it. Therefore he cannot be perceived entirely as evil. That's the clue.

    If you don't see your character as bad, then it will be shown in your writing that he isn't bad. The only way, really, to convince yourself that the opposition to the main character isn't bad is to constantly reiterate that he has reasons for doing things, and has thought a lot about them.
     
  11. pippin1710
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    I am having the same problem.. I have the picture of my hero in my head who is sort of the mis understood dark hero, while the villian being more noble and ellegant. But have know idea what makes the villian the villian. I orginally planned on having him be the villian because he was afraid of dying feeling i could relate to this, being diagnosed with thanatophobia (fear of dying) but after reading Harry Potter and JkR theme almost completly based on this im trying to change it.
     
  12. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    "Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you
    move, fall like a thunderbolt."
    — Sun Tzu


    The villain's plan must certainly be one of ultimate despair and destruction, and while it's not obvious what it is that he's trying to do, that is the point.
     
  13. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    It really just comes down to knowing what the villain wants and why he wants it. Everything else is just a question of how he goes about to attain his goal.

    Funny you'd say that. My main villain has the same motivation, but he's basically the anti-Voldemort otherwise. In fact, most of my villains are motivated by existentialistic concerns.

    (BTW, one of the things that really disappointed me in Harry Potter was that Voldemort was a power-mad psychopath right from the start, and really didn't have any real reason to be evil at all.)
     
  14. pippin1710
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    Yes he didnt have much of a back story to become evil sort of born with it, but im curious on how your villian is the anti voldomort.. sounds a little like my hero who is good but also fears death as much as the villian
     
  15. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    Well, they're both powerful wizards, and to be honest the premise is kinda Harry Potter-esque and first glance, so I guess I wanted to get my guy as different from old snake-face as I could.

    My villain actually ended up a pretty honorable and no-nonsense kind of guy. I really didn't want him to be the type who's obsessed with killing an adolescent/teenager and spends almost a decade failing to do so. I think that puts a damper on the whole "most dangerous wizard in the world" image. My villain is powerful, competent and resourceful enough to take my main character out if he really felt like it, but he doesn't waste time on people he doesn't consider genuine threats, and he rarely takes anything personal. Plus, he's the kinda guy who'd much rather see the heroes turn to his side then killing them.

    I'd like to think his motives are selfish but relatable. He's basically displeased with how the universe works and wants to overthrow the established order because he considers it inherently flawed. I adhere to the idea that the best villain is a failed hero. As such, he does have heroic traits but is so disillusioned he can't see it as a matter of Good vs Evil anymore. Rather, he'd say it's a matter of "accepting the inevitable fate" vs "fighting the seemingly unwinnable battle," which is one of the core themes of my story.

    Personality-wise, I modeled him after one of my all time favorite villains: Dr Cid from Final Fantasy XII. I think he might also have a bit of Captain Hook in him. In general, I love villains who knows how to have fun, so he has a strong dramatic flair and is surprisingly cheerful for a guy motivated by fear of death. ;)
     
  16. Sylvester
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    What's in it for him?

    The question I'd have to ask is what does the villain get for releasing the big baddy? That might help answer some of the motivational question.

    Another thing is that throughout history, man has constantly strived to produce bigger and more powerful weapons. Your "Evil Thing B" can very well be considered the next evolution.

    Perhaps there is another villain lurking the background, manipulating your main bad guy. Or maybe "ET-B" itself is using your villain to escape some form of imprisonment.

    I'm looking at having two apparent villains.

    One, a beautiful heiress, is driven by maternal needs. The prize she is after is a group of kid super heroes; three boys and five girls she plans to abduct to serve as surrogate sons and daughters.

    Lurking in the background, the main bad guy is motivated by greed. He is after the heiress' multi billion dollar empire. Once she has the eight young "trophies" locked way and helpless so they can't interfere, he will put his plan into motion and use them as pawns against their "new" mother.
     

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