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Something about a villain’s creation story appeals to most readers. Knowing someone means loving them, as many great authors have demonstrated, so as we know these villains, we can’t help but love them, too. The more complex an antagonist becomes, the more they feel like real people, and it grows harder to hate them, which conflicts with our rooting for the good guy. We story tellers have good reasons to give them purpose.

Because characters drive plot, they generate reason behind what happens to the protagonist. Knowing what makes them do what they do creates more tension for future conflicts via reader awareness. We feel the tension looming as we watch characters opposing each other. Opposition creates disharmony, more so when a tiny part of us understands them, and their viewpoints, too. Empathy is a powerful tool.

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As Chuck Wendig says, “Antagonists think they’re the protagonists. The antagonist is the hero in his own story…the antagonist thinks he’s right. And doing the right thing. Even when it’s awful.” They must have realistic motivations. Besides, evil just because is boring. In fact, antagonists, even villains, should fall short of being black and white. They need depth because bad guys don’t genuinely exist in real life, although we like to paint people this way, especially in our history books.

Writing from the antagonist’s perspective, and reading it, gives us time with them and their minds. Again, knowing them in this intimate way means that they fully bloom in our minds. Besides, they must create a real challenge. And since a protagonist needs something to do, making them believable with some advantage, we worry for the characters more. All of them.

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Phea is my ultimate villain. She runs the show either directly or behind the scenes for all of my stories, present and future (I’ve got about forty in the bleachers waiting as patiently as they can. Give them credit, those seats aren’t soft). But she’s not completely evil. Beyond being treated poorly, wronged by others, regret, and the internal struggle with knowingly transforming into a monster, she has another nasty little secret that secures her dementia and cruelty. And I’m not telling you what that is (because spoilers). Essentially, the downpour of shit that threatens to bury her in “Maiden of the Underworld” makes me feel sorry for her—at times. Does she have good reason for being the villain? You may just decide that she does.

Check out her creation story here.

And don’t miss out on my Black Friday sale, lasting until Tuesday morning!

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