1. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Villain Motivation

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by lostinwebspace, May 31, 2011.

    Hey everyone. I'm trying to come up with a villain's motivation. Call it backstory to why they're doing what they're doing to make the story go.

    Anyway, what he's doing is taking over a crime gang as the new leader. He was part of the gang and decided he wanted to take it for his own, become its new leader. But I want to come up with something more than just the fact that he wants more. There should be something else in there aside from greed.

    I'm still in the initial planning at this point, so there's not much else that I've got so far. Any thoughts?
     
  2. Infinitytruth
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    Infinitytruth Senior Member

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    Sounds like a critical aspect of your story. You should write it, not someone else.
     
  3. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    I'm only asking for suggestions.
     
  4. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    No one wants power for the sake of power. He wants it to fulfill a need or desire of some sort. You just haven't figured out what that is yet. Ask yourself what your character is trying to do. What can he do as leader that he can't do from his current position?

    For example, he might feel that the gang no longer embodies its old ideals. He joined for a reason, didn't he? Well, maybe it's not living up to his expectations. Maybe he remembers a time when this gang was honorable, but now it's full of scumbags and lowlives, so he wants to usurp the throne and 'clean the place up.' It could even be the opposite: maybe he feels they've become too 'soft' so he wants to boot the old leader out and show them how a real gangsta (with an 'a,' of course) does business.

    That's just two examples off the top of my head, but there's a million directions you could take this. The important thing to remember is that no one is ever ______ simply for the sake of being _______. This guy is not simply greedy for the sake of being greedy. He wants this for a reason. I'm not saying it's a good reason, or a valid reason, but there's got to be a reason. You have to get into your character's head and figure out why he's acting this way.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I recently read "the chocolate war" by robert cormier and it deals well with power games, manipulations, inner workings of gangs etc. It's for a younger age group (YA) but still well done, I'm out of my teens and enjoyed it.
     
  6. SteamWolf
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    SteamWolf Senior Member

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    Money
    Influence
    Parental issues (forgotten second child / overbearing father / etc etc)
    Revenge against old leader / rival gang

    All good chestnuts.
     
  7. Dsz
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    Dsz New Member

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    In my opinion you should write the whole history of this character. His back story from birth to this point. Of course I'm not suggesting that you should include the back story in the narrative, but only to clear things up for you. The reasons for someone doing something can be very complex, even irrational or totally mental. You may have one idea of the reasons, then afterward you've written some you may have a whole new grasp on them and find the initial reasons false or illogical.
    But if you write the whole back story, you may get an intuition of how the personality bounced out from the experiences. And I'm not talking about writing down the personality traits as if trying to solidify them, I'm saying that when you know someones history, you know that person. If you know every experience, and most importantly the significant ones, you may posses an intuition of how that person might act in a spontaneous situation that he wasn't prepared for.

    Might I ask that you correct my English in this comment if you see some horrible mistakes. It's my second language. :)
     
  8. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I like villains who act the way they act because of some deeply tragic/painful thing in their past. It's a lot better motivation than just evil for evil's sake and adds depth to the character.
     
  9. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Holla from Quebec!

    A lot can motivate your villain. In the end, it's usually about wanting more than he already has. Everyone is selfish, everyone is greedy. People can be happy with something they want at one point, then the next day they're upset and they want something else.

    Your villain probably wants more power because he gets more power, he is taken more seriously by the others, power=women (if you know what I mean~), he's trying to prove his worth, he will be more feared, he will be respected, and he gets privileges for being in power. Think of all the times a CEO could get away with a crime because he was able to hide behind his/her company in court. It's a lot like that, except when you're a crime lord, you don't have many rules to abide to.
     
  10. TyUnglebower
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    TyUnglebower New Member

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    The idea of a deeper motivation is a good instinct. I'd add that whatever it is could be revealed only at the end. Like perhaps the last moment he is in the book. Not only does it make the villain less of a cardboard cut out, but you have a built in shock/surprise factor.

    Maybe the secret motivation is actually the one tiniest bit of the villain that could be construed as "good"?
     
  11. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    The thing about villains is that they do things because they usually see it as being "good". Not that it might be in another's eyes.

    Much like one of my villains. He wishes to overthrow the current queen because he feels she has stained the legacy of the kingdom, and that she is not fit to rule the kingdom (there's more depth to his reasons but this is the basic idea). Therefore, in his eyes, him wanting to overthrow her is a "good" thing for the kingdom.

    But yeah, villains do what they do because they think it's right in their mind. If you want a more solid actual case, you should look into famous villains. Like Hilter for one. We see him as being evil, but his intentions were "good" in his eyes.

    So it's important to remember that when creating a villain.
    As for your villain I can't say "You should do this with him" because it's not my story. We can give all the suggestions we want, but that won't do you much better.

    Just try to think of something that your villain will see as beneficial or "good" that would make him want to take over, and become the leader. He doesn't have to be greedy alone, maybe his greed is fueled by his belief?
     
  12. Dsz
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    Dsz New Member

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    Good point.
     
  13. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    That's another favorite villain motivation of mine -- seeing what they do as right rather than wrong.
     
  14. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    personal interest. He must have something to gain from it other than the power itself, be it respect, money, revenge, ego, distorted sense of justice or whatever you want. it's something only you can come up with.
     
  15. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    These are all great suggestions. Thanks, guys. It'll help me shape what I need. I wouldn't agree that every villain sees his intentions as good. There are some bad people out there, and some great villains have been made from them.

    But I'm trying to get my villain not to see his motivation as "good" but, as what people have said, "fitting." Still, I want him to be in it for himself. I want him to recognize the good only for himself in what he's doing. But these are all great suggestions, and I think it's enough to point me to what people think is a great villain.

    For me, I've always found an interesting or good villain one with a sense of humour. This wouldn't work in every work, but if it's fitting, a sense of humour helps.

    But, if anything have anything else, keep 'em coming. I'm sure others will find this helpful, too.
     

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