Welcome to Villainy — Population: You.


It is such a good word. It could be a village in the south of France, where all the villains go for summer holidays. Can’t you just picture it?

‘Oh, I bumped into the Voldemorts down at the market this morning, dear. I’ve invited them round for drinks and canapés to watch the sunset from the terrace. They asked if they can bring the Blofelds as well. I hope you don’t mind?’

‘Ernst and Muriel? That’ll be marvellous. Haven’t seen them since Ernst threatened New York with nuclear annihilation. That was a laugh.’

‘And you’ll never guess who I saw stumbling out of the bottle shop carrying a crate of Chianti.’

‘Not Hannibel Lecter! He’s got a nerve showing up here again after that barbecue debacle at his place last year.’

Ah, villains.

Where would stories be without them? They would be very dull affairs indeed.

I love writing villains. As characters, they are infinitely more interesting than normal folk. That’s because a good villain has a back-story. For villains to be truly effective they can’t just have woken up one day and decided, ‘You know, I reckon being a villain might be kind of neat.’


They need to earn their villain stripes. Dastardly deeds must be begat from somewhere. There needs to be a motivation that drives a villain towards their nefarious plans. Whether it be greed borne of deprivation, or lust for power derived from early childhood bullying, your average villain needs to have a rational reason for doing irrational things. Threatening to drop a nuclear device on New York is irrational, but seeking revenge for a past wrong is an entirely rational human response. So when I write my villains, I try to create a complex character who is simply following a clear line of thinking that would be apparent to everyone if only they were as clever as the villain. There is nothing more boring than a cartoon villain who does bad stuff for no better reason than they are a ‘bad’ person, whatever that is. Good stories are not made of such stuff.

Good villains are potentially likeable; the kind of person you could enjoy time with if only they didn’t overreact so much. At their heart, they tap into the dark side that everyone possesses and reflect our own potential for nastiness — a potential only kept in check by our moral selves. A good villain should rattle the bars of that cage that we keep locked up tight in our hearts and not dare admit to its very existence…

In the meantime, I’ll see you in Villainy.

7 Responses so far

  1. 1

    […] Welcome to Villainy – Population: You. (christchurchkids.wordpress.com) […]

  2. 2

    zackids said,

    You certainly always remember the villain in a story. Villains like The Falcon can be quite comical too. I love that first chapter of The Crystal Code!

  3. 3

    reardonhs said,

    My favourite villain is probably Lester Smythe from The Brain Sucker, or maybe Lord Voldemort.

  4. 4

    Ella Somers said,

    My favourite villain is probably a tie between Lord Voldemort, and Cat Women from Batman.

  5. 5

    Aisling said,

    I wonder what they are serving in those canapes………

  6. 6

    reardonhs said,

    Good point. I wonder what villains do like to eat…probably something gross or tasteless…like olives.

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