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13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  129 ratings  ·  44 reviews
Your hero is not the most important character in your book. Your villain is.

Are you fed up of drowning in two-dimensional villains? Frustrated with creating clichés? And failing to get your reader to root for your villain?

In 13 Steps to Evil, you’ll discover:

• How to develop a villain’s mindset
• A step-by-step guide to creating your villain from the ground up
• Why getting
Paperback, 230 pages
Published May 9th 2017 by Atlas Black Publishing
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Average rating 4.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  129 ratings  ·  44 reviews

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Shelley Wilson
May 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’ve followed Sacha Black’s blog for quite some time and thoroughly enjoy reading her posts on every aspect of the writing profession. When I heard that she had produced the first book in her writers’ craft series I was excited to learn more.

13 Steps to Evil is a unique look at crafting the villain within your story. Novice writers may be thrown off course by the revelation that the bad guy is just as important as the hero, but Sacha explains why this is so in full detail. As with her online wo
Elise Noble
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Okay, hands up, I usually find writing craft books pretty dull and boring. Yes, I read them anyway because I need to learn, but do I enjoy them? Not really.

But this book was different. 13 Steps to Evil homes in on one particular skill: how to write a really good (bad) villain, and it’s written in a friendly, conversational style that makes it entertaining as well as educational.

Really enjoyed it, and I've definitely learned a lot from reading!
Icy Sedgwick
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are certain writing craft books that everyone gravitates towards, often with good reason. And while many of them are excellent, they often focus on more general subjects. I've read many books about creating characters, but there's often being something missing. Sacha Black has filled in one of the most glaring gaps by focusing entirely on villains. And let's be honest, your story is only as good as your villain (you just need to look at Dolores Umbridge to know what I'm saying). She's cove ...more
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Black has written an interesting book about not just supervillains, but also their foes in novels: heroes, and anti-heroes.

It's thoughtful, theoretical, and in places quite heavy going, but what lightens it up is Black's easy-going, informal, and direct style. It may not suit all tastes, but I find it refreshing, and it certainly makes yet another 'How to do this' book a different read.

If anything I found it hard to get into, with an excessive use of over-the-top adjectives – yes, part of the st
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading Sasha's emails for a while and I love her writing tips. I've always struggled with how to write villains so I jumped on the opportunity to read a review copy of 13 Steps to Supervillians. Sasha's quirky and amusing voice came through in this how-to book just as well as it does in her emails. It was packed full of actionable tips and good explanations for why your villains need depth. This book informed and entertained. ...more
D. Peach
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sacha Black makes a great point in the opening of this book - that a villain is at least as important as the hero and rarely gets an equivalent amount of attention as a book is crafted. And we all love a great villain, whether we know it or not, because a great villain makes our hero miserable, which promises a satisfying payoff when the hero prevails!

Black is thorough, elaborating on 13 different factors related specifically to villain development, though many of the points, including those cov
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
*This review was originally published on


I’ve followed Sacha Black on her blog for a long time now. I’ve watched her create this book and I feel like I’ve learned a lot just by reading her posts. Now she’s put all her research, time, and effort, into an ebook.


(There’s no plot, but I don’t have another picture, so I’m going with it.)

In this craft book, the author discusses a range of “bad guys” from the villains to the antagonists (yes, they are different) to anti-
M.J. Moores
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I must say, this book is deviously fun!

I’m a lifelong learner and while there are a few things I feel I know extremely well (this isn’t one of them), I am always open to a new interpretation/perspective/battle plan. Sometimes, all we need as writers is a different way of looking at something that could spark understanding or give our creative muse a kick in the a**!

Sacha Black believes in our villains, and as an author/long-time reader she found a need to help build stronger more dynamic bad guy
B.J. Richardson
This book is a mixed bag.

On the one hand, there are plenty of very helpful thoughts and ideas on writing the villain of a story. She pretty much has everything covered and each of her "steps" is a chapter covering another aspect of what it takes to have a well crafted, believable villain. She uses plenty of examples from contemporary literature and movies and they nearly always are an excellent choice for illustrating the point she is making. After a while, however, it becomes obvious that she

I've been following Sacha's blog for a while now and love the energy, humour and passion that she puts into helping writers hone their craft. In 13 Steps to Evil, Sacha has put together everything she has learnt about writing and focused on how to create superbad villains - something she believes is often overlooked.

I thought this book was brilliant. Even if like me, you're not currently writing anything and therefore not using it directly as a writing tool, it's stil
Jaye Marie
May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have read many ‘how to’ books before, but none of them talks quite like Sacha Black. She tells it straight from the hip in an inimitable and refreshing style of direction.
This book is an in-depth and thorough expose of all things villain. Far more complex than you would first imagine.
Cause and effect are explained in easily understood writers speak, along with some amazing examples, just in case you have your dim head on!
Most crime/thriller writers love to create a good/bad villain and probabl
M.J. Mallon
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Excellent - my only regret I hadn't read this earlier. Fantastic resource, well written, entertaining and so human. This girl knows her villains!

Confession time. No, it’s nothing to do with my prison record, or my descent into villainy. It’s simply this – I’m pretty lazy about reading books about writing – but Sacha Black’s 13 Steps To Evil has completely changed my mind! What a fantastic kick ass little book! I wish I’d read a copy years ago.

It’s a detailed resource, which informs and entertain
Ritu Bhathal
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Never, as a fledgeling writer, did I think I would ever want/need to read 'how to' books regarding writing, much less a book about crafting Villains!
To be honest, in my writing, I have never really thought about the need for a villain, though after reading this book, I realise that they are EVERYWHERE!
Whether in a children's book, or Science fiction, in Chick Lit or Fantasy, there will be a villain lurking, and now I know how to
a) spot one, and
b) create one!
Sacha Black has, in a mere 13 steps
Francis Behrend
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-bookshelf
I really loved this book. Not only is Sacha Black an amazing and funny author, her focus on developing a villain is spot-on. It is an approach that is quite often neglected by new and experienced authors and I think it's a great addition to my writing advice bookshelf.
What I enjoyed the most was the summary at the end of each chapter, so that if you want to re-visit a topic, you can first look in the mini version and then decide of you need to refresh your memory by reading the whole chapter ag
Melanie Roussel
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

13 Steps To Evil - How To Craft Superbad Villains, the author demystifies villainry and lays it out for us in thirteen well thought out chapters. There were a few major sections that really stood out for me. The commentary on why there are so few female villains was really thoughtful. If you’re looking for help crafting a female villain, I’d say this section is your must-read. Also, the chapter which looks at the mental health
A.S. Akkalon
May 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have probably read over a hundred books on writing craft as well as hundreds of blog posts, so I was dubious about whether I would find anything new in “13 Steps to Evil”.

The book does cover a lot of what will be familiar material if you’re well read in this area, but it takes the unusual approach of presenting the ideas through the lens of writing better villains, meaning many ideas are combined and emphasised in novel ways
Angela Lawlor
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Create a villain your readers will love to hate

Like your writing advice with a bit of sass and attitude? Sacha Black has a great book you need to read ASAP. "13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Super bad Villains." Super enjoyable and filled with great tips to add some extra punch to your stories and novels. 5 stars!
S.C. Skillman
Jun 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found this book an excellent resource for writers, especially those at the stage I was in at the time of reading - nearing the end of the first draft of my WIP. Sacha Black equips the writer with plenty of tools to sharpen up and deepen their understanding of villainy. She writes with the knowledge and insight of one who is trained and qualified in Psychology. At times I found her handling of the subject almost too dense and over-analytical - especially in areas such as complexes, which I have ...more
Susan Mallien
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-writing
These are very helpful writing tips! Thank you!
Lucy Mitchell
May 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
LOVED this book! It gets you feeling excited about writing. After reading a couple of chapters you find yourself getting strong urges to create some villains. Love the author's witty and engaging tone. She tells you how it is and puts in such a way you can't help but smile. It's very readable and the exercises are fun. I am hoping she will bring out a workbook as that would be ideal. A must read for aspiring writers! ...more
Michael Mardel
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
13 steps to evil - textbook and workbook by Black. I hadn't used villains in my stories but will now. Tip 1 - have at least one negative trait (I bought the thesaurus from Ackerman and Pulisi). Black gives a list of negatives such as jealous and reckless.
Tip 2 - give the villain one positive trait like adaptable.
To drive conflict, show the hero with opposing traits to the villain. Also, time pressure.
There are different types of villains e.g. anti-heroes like Robin Hood and Batman.
I skipped thr
Colleen Chesebro
I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review which follows.

As a fantasy writer, I love writing about the hero’s journey. However, as Author, Sacha Black points out, your villain is just as important as your hero. Of particular interest to me was the concept of creating a villain who could stand up to your hero by making the villain credible and believable. This is where the 13 fundamentals of a bad guy come into play. Each concept is discussed in practical term
Debbie Harris
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have followed Sacha Black's blog for some time now and knew of the imminent release of this book. It was an enjoyable and easy book to read. If I was a writer I would love this sort of book to help me in writing about my villains. She used a variety of language and contemporary stories to describe her main ideas which I found it easy to relate to. It was set out well and flowed smoothly. Her ideas and suggestions were spot on. A great resource for writers out there. Even though I'm not a write ...more
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star-reads
13 Steps to Evil is a non-fiction about creating fiction; specifically, villains in all their forms. It touches on the various ways you can portray villainy, the purpose of a villain and the effect your villain should have on your hero. This isn’t all moustache twisting deep cackling villainy, and sometimes the villain of a story might not even be a tangible thing, but the rules Sacha lays out apply none the less with examples of all of them and are reiterated enough to stick in your memory (but ...more
Willow Willers
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“13 Steps to Evil” by Sacha Black is the best “How to” book I have ever read! It is not only brilliantly informative but also entertaining as well. It really has had me intrigued and entertained . Personally I have learnt a great deal about how to craft a super evil villain!
If you are new to writing or even if you are an old master, I am certain there is something for everyone to learn from in this book.
Sacha has made sure that the book is concise, easy to read and understand and has added lots
Tango Jordan
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Don't Write Without It

13 Steps To Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains
I consider this book to be absolutely essential for new writers who have unhealthy relationships with their heroes, making their books wish-fulfillment fantasies of power where the protagonist is never really challenged and their villains are 2-dimensional caricatures without any real motivations or compelling forethought. This and the workbook are everything you need to making your novel stand out in every way. Every writer w
Pat Stanford
Sep 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent tool

This is a keeper for any fiction writer's tool box. I won't repeat what has already been said, but I will explain why I gave it four stars instead of five.

I didn't think chapter summaries were needed after thoroughly explaining a topic. For some reason, the author felt it necessary to list what she just covered and I was a little insulted.

The humor displayed throughout smoothed most of that over and I'll return to this again.
Katlyn Duncan
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
As a writer, I always love writing complex villains, so I knew 13 Steps was right up my alley. I enjoyed the witty voice of the author and the helpful and comprehensive information inside of the book. I liked how this book honed in on a specific character of most fiction novels so that they leap off the page. I prefer this style versus the broad range of information that some writing books contain. If you are looking to step up your writing, be sure to take a read through 13 Steps to Evil.
Melissa Mitchell
Your average writing help book

Thirteen Steps to Evil is an ideal guide for new writers for taking two dimensional characters to three dimensional. Each step covers various aspects for building the perfect villain. The lessons that are covered, range from learning how to develop a villain’s mindset, to pitfalls and cliches to avoid. Throughout this, examples are used to assist in developing the ideas.

I gave this book three stars because I wasn’t crazy about it. While there were many good insights
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Received through GoodReads First Reads for reviewing - thank you.

I've read many 'How to Write...' titles for different genres but this book beats all of them. Jam packed with information and guidelines, suggestions and examples, Black has given the would-be writer of villains plenty to help and assist in their work. It also made me examine how I would read a book, of the balance between villain and hero. I loved the snippets from books to illustrate examples. There's a lot to take in, a lot of r
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If you'd like a FREE 17-page cheat sheet to help you master superbad villains go here: 

Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and oth

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“What separates a villain from a hero are the decisions and choices he makes.

Being ‘good’ and ‘moral’ is hard work, often painful and usually involves a lot of self-sacrifices which means it’s never the easy option. And that’s why villains tend to opt for the easy road because well, it’s easier and gives them what they want faster than doing it the right way. But that option just gives them a one-way ticket to the villain funfair of doom.”
“It will teach you to craft villains so brilliantly twisted they’ll make your readers throw themselves like sacrificial lambs between the pages of your book.” 0 likes
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