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Q & A Discussions > The Importance of a Villain

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message 1: by Isaac (new)

Isaac Alder | 3 comments I often find that a good (ha) villain/antagonist is one thing that makes a good book/movie/series into a GREAT book/movie/series. A baddie who we love to hate, or one that makes us question the very nature of good and evil, or one who is just so much damn fun can improve the whole dynamic of a story. While many would debate this point, I am sure that most of you would agree that some of the greatest historical mysteries are only so because they feature the greatest historical villains. So I'd love to hear about who are some of your favorite villains (fiction or non-fiction), and what is it that makes them so amazing?


message 2: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1664 comments Mod
Thanks for the interesting discussion topic, Isaac. As it's not off topic, I've moved it to our Q&A section.

Looking forward to the comments


message 3: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 65 comments Interesting thought. I guess I write a different sort of book, but for me the best villain is inside the protagonist’s own head, and the struggle between that villain and the hero/ine’s better self is the main thing. If I were to have an external villain, I would want that figure to have power over the protagonist, or at least the power to misrepresent the protagonist’s motives or actions, and I would do my level best to make the points of view of both villain and hero/ine equally persuasive. I would want the reader to doubt and question and not be sure where to place trust.

I feel like the Greeks had a good thought with hamartia, the tragic flaw in a hero that drives the action and leads to his downfall.


message 4: by Victoria (new)

Victoria Prescott (victoria_prescott) | 3 comments Late to this, but I agree that having a strong villain is important. It presents a greater challenge to the hero - there's not much suspense if solving the crime/defeating the baddie is too easy.

In classic crime fiction, I suppose Moriarty, Sherlock Holmes's Nemesis, is the ultimate villain.

Historical fiction rather than historical crime, but there's a particularly powerful villain in Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond series. (Don't want to say who, because of spoilers.)


message 5: by Lauren (new)

Lauren (laurenjberman) | 1664 comments Mod
Victoria wrote: "Late to this, but I agree that having a strong villain is important. It presents a greater challenge to the hero - there's not much suspense if solving the crime/defeating the baddie is too easy...."

Agreed. If the villain is cookie-cutter or mediocre then the mystery is less satisfying. Defeating a truly malevolent villain makes the reading more intense and exciting.


message 6: by J. (new)

J. Rubino (jrubino) I think the Sherlock Holmes tales produced several great villains: Professor Moriarty, of course; Baron Gruner in The Illustrious Client; Charles Augustus Milverton (who was based on the real life rascal Charles Augustus Howell) and I'd even put Isadora Klein from The Three Gables in the mix.


message 7: by QNPoohBear (new)

QNPoohBear | 333 comments I don't like reading about bad villains. I like bad guys to be killed off before the story starts/in chapter 1 and the heroine to figure out who did it. On TV it's a bit different. I could do without villains. I'd prefer more of an antagonist.


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