Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Why I Love Your Villain

This week’s topic is all about villains. Lucky me, I finally have an excuse to use all of the Ramsay Bolton memes!  He’s not the best example of what I'm talking about in this post, but I have memes!

Let’s be honest, sometimes the bad guys are more interesting than the good guys. Villains do whatever they want. That’s what makes them so much fun to read about. Here are 10 things that will make me love a villain.







Why I Love Your Villain






1. There’s potential for a redemption arc. I’m trash for redemption arcs. They’re one of my favorite plotlines to read (or watch). I will never get bored with them. The most interesting characters are the morally gray ones who make questionable choices. I like not being able to trust a character. I love when a bad guy learns that being evil is overrated and tries to be good.





2. They have a sense of humor. This is true with any character, not just bad guys. If a character can make me laugh, they’ll instantly become one of my favorites.







3. Sometimes they’re not selfish. One of the trademarks of a villain is selfishness, right? They have to be selfish if they’re going to hurt people to get ahead in life. But . . . what if sometimes they’re not selfish? What if they love their family and provide excellent health insurance for their minions? Being evil all the time is tedious. I want to see villains who care about someone besides themselves.





4. Sometimes they’re not emotionless. Another trademark of the villain is coldness. They murder a dozen people and then happily go about their day. Real-life serial killers are like this, but it’s kind of boring to read about. I’d rather read about a villain who second-guesses their decision to kill everyone. Maybe a villain should occasionally feel bad about their life choices.   







5. The hero is a little evil. Admit it: Sometimes heroes are massive jerks. (I’m looking at you, Ron Weasley.) If the hero is sometimes an insufferable asshat, it’ll be easier to understand the villain’s motives. Nobody likes an asshat.





6. They have a unique backstory. Bad guys need reasons for being bad guys. The two most common excuses for terrible fictional behavior are mental illnesses and abusive childhoods. This makes sense. If you read about real serial killers, most of them had horrific childhoods and untreated mental problems. But, villains who are ill and abused are overdone in fiction. I want to read about villains with unique backstories.







7. Their actions have consequences. I don’t mean “Hero murders them.” That’s fine, but becoming a supervillain doesn’t happen overnight. If you do evil stuff, there’s going to be pushback. Protesters will wave signs. Your family might betray you. You could lose all of your Twitter followers (except the bots. You’re stuck with those forever). You might be captured by a bigger, badder, smarter villain.





8. They used to be a good guy. Villains don’t see themselves as villains. They think they’re heroes. What if they set out to do something good, but their life spun out of control? They’re in too deep now. They don’t know how to pull themselves out of the mess they made. They keep sinking deeper and deeper . . . .







9. They caved to peer pressure (or had other relatable problems). We’ve all done things that we’re not proud of. My favorite villains are the ones who have extreme versions of common problems. For example, peer pressure. Most of us know what it’s like to stop resisting and go along with the crowd. Fighting peer pressure is exhausting. (I’m thinking about those knitted ponchos at my high school. You couldn’t be “cool” if you didn’t own a poncho. The ponchos were ugly and didn’t keep you warm! They served no purpose! Maybe the villain is secretly wishing they weren’t wearing a “cool” poncho right now.)





10. They don’t monologue. Don’t do this, authors. Just don’t. Please don’t make your villain give a long monologue right before the hero kills them. It’s cliché and annoying. Either give your villain a point-of-view, or have their actions show their motives.








Books with excellent villains









Who are your favorite fictional bad guys?








70 comments:

  1. Oh, Vicious...I was definitely thinking of that while reading your post. I really like villains that are morally gray, or just have something ELSE to them than being a stock bad guy.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. YES! Exactly. I love it when villains do bad things, but I want them to be more than just a person who does bad stuff. I want them to have a backstory and a personality.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. Yes! Love all of these. Especially the humor. A redemption arc is also a great one.

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    1. Humor and a redemption arc will make me love a character forever.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. I love that you chose Ramsay for almost all of your images. Man, that guy was the meanest of villains.

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    1. I’m pretty sure that Ramsay is the evilest character in modern literature. He’s terrifying!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. If there's a redemptive arc, I'm all for a well written or played villain. Otherwise, I'm so NOT a villain girl. I'll root for all the heroes. :D

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    1. Same. I usually cheer for the heroes, too, but a well-written villain can make any book 1000 times better.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  5. I agree. Villains in real life are compex. Why shouldn't they be in books?

    For my NaNoWriMo book I'm writing this year, I didn't even realize my villain was going to be a villain until I was outlining one of the last chapters. It surprised me. I hope it surprises anybody that reads it just as much.

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  6. ‘Scuse me while I wipe off my keyboard because I spewed water when I read “provide excellent health insurance for their minions.” LMAO Love it. And yes! Thank you for mentioning the villain monologue. Just no. Don’t need it. It’s trite and unnecessary. Don’t let your villain go out like that. Let him say something cryptic. Let him laugh. Let him smirk or grab someone and take them out with him. But no smarmy monologues!

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    1. YES! Please no monologues! They ruin everything. Also, minions probably need good health insurance. They do some dangerous stuff.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. Harry Potter and Game of Thrones definitely have the best villains. And the humour thing is definitely important - I've been loving 'Killing Eve' at the moment and it's the humour that can get you on side with the characters, no matter how crazy and psychotic...

    (My TTT: https://basedonthebook.blogspot.com/2018/10/10-harry-potter-villians-that-arent.html)

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    1. Agreed. If you’re funny, I’ll love you, even if you’re evil.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. OMG! What a great twist on the topic. Yes. Villains do tend to be funny in that sardonic, witty way. What I always want is a redemption arc. I like to think that there is good in everyone.

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    1. Same. I love redemption arcs because I like to think that mistakes can be corrected and people can be forgiven.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. Villains are usually the most interesting characters - the hero is usually just the "good" guy and there's not much else you need to know about them. But the villain - you want to know why they became this way, what their motivation is. And yes to #10!! I just read a book where the villain has the hero in his clutches, and then does his monologue - of course giving the hero time to get the drop on him!

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    1. OMG, no monologues! If a villain is smart enough to take over the world, they’re smart enough NOT to give monologues.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  10. I love redemption arcs!! I really love morally grey characters where the reader isn't fully sure what side to be on. This is a great list of villain traits/motives! Although, not sure how I can forgive you with the Ron Weasley comment ;). Thanks for stopping by my post!!

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    1. Haha, Ron got on my nerves in Deathly Hallows. I would have been sad if he died, though.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  11. Yesss I love snarky villains! I definitely agree that a good backstory can go a long way and I do think that a villain who just caved under pressure is an easy one to love. Great list!

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    1. Thanks! I like snarky villains, too. Especially if they have relatable motives.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  12. Very cool twist! I like how you picked characteristics instead of characters. But yes, the long monologues explaining everything they did and why before they die is just plain irritating.

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    1. Thanks! A villain monologue is definitely on the top ten list of things that irritate me in fiction.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  13. Villains are usually more fun. :) I love a good redemption arc. And #8 yes! Good one, I love it when good guys do a bad thing for the right(?) reason, and then they just get sucked in...

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  14. It's funny that you mention practically everyone in GoT being villains--I'd considered a few characters in the ASOIAF series when I heard the theme, but ultimately couldn't decide who was supposed to be a villain and who wasn't. Though I suppose Ramsay is pretty unambiguous.

    - Marina
    bardicimpulses.wordpress.com

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    1. Yeah, Ramsay is definitely one of the unambiguous ones. Joffrey is pretty evil, too. I love GoT because there usually aren’t clear good guys or bad guys.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  15. Awesome twist on this TTT article! Love your intake on villains; totally on board with all that you said!!

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  16. I agree - I love a good villain! Makes a story much more interesting!

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  17. "I heart villains and I cannot not lie" is my Writer's motto :) all my WIPs are about villains or anti-heroes, I just think they are way more realistic since we all do bad things :) Great Post AJ! I totally agree with all of it, especially the character arc :)

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    1. I hope your work gets published because I’d totally read a whole book about morally gray people.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  18. I love your pictures in the article! Yeah I like a complex bad guy that is interesting in some way ie the contempt Tywin has for his kids yet has a brilliant tactical mind, how Cersei is a bitch but loves her children no matter what, Ramsay's twisted humour and the redemption of Jaime. This makes them so great to read about!

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    1. YES! I was definitely thinking about the GoT villains while I was writing this. They’re some of my all-time favorites.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  19. You never have to have a reason to use memes, Lol! I like Maven from the Red Queen series, and there's been a few where I actually liked the villain better than the protagonist but I don't remember which ones they were :(

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    1. Haha, I have so many Harry Potter and Game of Thrones memes. I have to work them into posts whenever I can.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  20. I love what you've done with the list :-) All very good reasons to love the villain.

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  21. Yessss! about the dramatic dialogue!

    I like villains that are truly villainous. They can have morally grey areas or interesting backstories but so many books set them up to be evil masterminds but they're kind of just stupid idiots with chips on their shoulders lol

    And I do love a good redemption story but I also love when they're just bad people and stay that way.

    Queen Levana for The lunar Chronicles is one of my favorites. I loved her book too. It gave her backstory which helped you understand her more but never changed your mind about her being a villain.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

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    1. I wish more books had complex villains. Stupid, angry people are rarely successful by themselves. If a villain is stupid and angry, I want to see the masterminds who are helping that villain succeed. Who are the villains behind the villain?

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  22. I love your list! They're all great villain characteristics and all the villains I love do check the boxes. I'm a sucker for redemption stories, too. Maybe because they don't happen too often in real life.

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    1. I know! The world would be a better place if redemption arcs happened more often in real life.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  23. Wow great list, I love all of these!
    My TTT: https://jjbookblog.wordpress.com/2018/10/23/top-ten-tuesday-182/

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  24. I love this list! You've included some great traits that I want to see in all villains from now on! (Ramsay Bolton narrowly missed out on being included in my list, as did a number of other characters from GoT!)

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    1. GoT has a zillion characters, so it’s understandable that some of them wouldn’t make people’s top ten lists. I could easily make a whole TT list of GoT bad guys.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  25. Omg! Yes Ramsay Bolton is one of thr nest villians. Yes, no monologuing!

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    1. Ramsay Bolton has to be the scariest guy in modern literature. He’s so messed up!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  26. This list is so on point! A very interesting spin on the topic :)

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  27. What a fantastic post! I adored every word of it. If only more books included villains like this.

    Here is our Top Ten Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by earlier.

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  28. It's so easy to love snarky villains. Love all your points!

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  29. I love a good villain too and I like the reasons you listed too!
    My fav villains in literature are Snape from the HP books (although he's not really a villain), Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights and Annie Wilkes from Misery to name just a few :)

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    1. I love those three, too! I’d consider Snape a villain because he bullies children. Annie Wilkes is terrifying!

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  30. YES to all of these! I would honestly love to read a book/series from the point of view of the villain. I think there's so much potential!

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    1. Have you read Vicious and Vengeful by VE Schwab? Almost all of the POV characters are villains.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  31. I love your twist on this topic! I am also a fan of characters who are morally grey, like George R.R. Martin's villains and Klaus from The Originals.

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  32. I have never before loved and related to a post so much! I'm such a huge fan of villains and morally grey characters, and you've listed so many reasons why!

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    1. Thanks! I love morally gray characters, too. They’re more interesting than plan old good guys and bad guys.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  33. I've been reading the Bartimaeus series by Jonathan Stroud in a read-along over the last couple of months and the djinn is very wittily sarcastic. I can't get enough of him, right now. Some people would say Snape, but I don't consider him a villian as a whole. I love this post. 👍✨

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  34. I love it when a villain has a sharp sense of humor. :)

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  35. Great list and almost all of the reasons why I love a good villain so much. Morally gray characters are probably my favorites. They're just so interesting!

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  36. I love this list! Thank you for sharing, AJ:). And SO agree with you over the monologuing issue!

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  37. Oooh I am LOVING this list!! And totally agree...this makes a villain way more complex too. Also I like the unique backstory point. Like yes I'm still a sucker for a tragic backstory 😂but I like villains to have different sorts/reasons for motivations?! I also LOVE when a character is actually working towards something good...but they go about it in such a bad way that they become a villain!??

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  38. Oh yes I like it when a villain is not selfish.

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