Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Makes A Good Villain?

Hi, everyone! It’s a pleasure to be visiting here with you all—and thanks so much to Katie for inviting me over! I can't wait to read her sexy new paranormal series, but to keep me busy, I will dive eagerly into Dangerous Secrets.


Today, I thought I’d talk about villains. The bad guys (or girls). Those wicked ones that can send shivers down your spine or have you shuddering in disgust. Oh, I do so love a good villain.



To me, a good villain isn’t some card-board character with only one dimension (and that dimension is, of course, EVIL!). Instead, I like to learn more about the villain. I want to see his character develop. Because even the villain should develop over the course of the story.



Let me use a super famous villain example—Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal didn’t stay the same during SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and HANNIBAL RISING. He changed. He evolved. That’s what all characters are supposed to do.


Villains have pasts, they have futures—and I like to know about them. So when I wrote DEADLY HEAT, I deliberately started the book with a prologue that would show my villains past. My villain isn’t some guy who just woke up one day and decided, “Hey, I’ll start some fires.” Instead, like Hannibal, he evolved, and the signs of the monster where in him even when he was a child.


But…just because a character is the villain, just because he’s incredibly bad—well, that doesn’t mean that a villain can’t have good points, too. All characters should care about something—or someone, and I believe a villain can show his emotional attachments. Sure, sometimes that love is twisted and broken, like an ob
session, but for the villain, that feeling may be all that he has.



So don’t give me a one-dimensional guy. Give me someone I can fear. Someone who will make me double-check my locks at night. Give me a monster *and* a man.


Now it’s your turn…what do you like to see in a good villain? I’ll pick one commenter to win a copy of my latest release, DEADLY HEAT.



Thanks!

Cynthia Eden

www.cynthiaeden.com

DEADLY HEAT—Available now from Grand Central Publishing

DEADLY LIES—Available 3/1/11 from Grand Central Publishing

31 comments:

Diane said...

A very bad boy! Kidding, I look for a caring, supportive, understanding and loving hero!

Katie Reus said...

Thanks for blogging here today, Cynthia! I've been really looking forward to Deadly Heat :)

I love all types of villains. There are some I just love to hate b/c they're so bad and then there are those that even though I know they need to be locked up (or worse) I still feel bad for them. I think Damon from The Vampire Diaries show is a total villain but I still love him!

Kaylea Cross said...

Hi Cynthia! I loved Deadly Fear, and still can't get that scene on the dock out of my head. *shiver*

I like villains that show a multi-faceted personality. I hate it when an author just makes them evil and doesn't explain why, or how, they came to be that way. I want to see a weakness in them, some shred of humanity lingering in their withered soul. Some redeeming quality that stops us from truly hating their guts--even better, something that makes us conflicted about how we view them. I actually love books where we can relate to the villain's pain in a way that makes us torn about what happens to them in the end.

Anne said...

I like a villain with a backstory. I also like villains who eventually become good guys. They've either gotten rid of the pain and need for revenge or started to understand what they were doing is wrong.

However, a villain with no redeeming qualities who bites it in the end is good too.

Cynthia Eden said...

Diane, those are some great hero qualities.

Cynthia Eden said...

Thanks for having me over, Katie! Oh, and I do so enjoy those love-to-hate villains!

Cynthia Eden said...

Hi, Kaylea! Thank you!! So glad you enjoyed that scene. Poor Sam. I love the line you wrote: "some shred of humanity lingering in their withered soul." What a perfect sum-up--that's what I look for, too!

Cynthia Eden said...

Anne, I have a soft spot for those villains who become good, too! I'm actually writing one right now. :-)

Jillian said...

I guess I'm on the band wagon here. I want to know the villain's motivation and why he/she is the way they are. Can't wait to dig into Deadly Heat!!

Victoria said...

Please don't enter me. I also like to know where the villain is coming from. I like them to have some redeeming quality too.

Miranda Grissom said...

I have heard great things about Deadly Heat!!! I like villains that are absolutely despicable but also ones that seek redemption.

Kimmie, Nola said...

I like to see a villain who is bad enough to be BAD.....but I also want to feel like I have something in common with him/her....I want to feel like I can connect and really like him/her....even though they're bad!!!!

Lea said...

Hi Cynthia & Katie!

I have Deadly Fear in my TBR here to read and am really looking forward to it. :-)

I like a villain who a reader can't pick out as the antagonist in the early stages of the book. He (or she) is the least likely suspect. diabolical, alluding the good guys at every turn. The villain blends into a crowd, is smart, canny but... creepy. lol

Thanks for the giveaway chance!

Leagh said...

I definitely want a villain to be bad but most important to me is I want his reason for being bad to make sense. I have read so many books where the villain's reason is lame and in reality shouldn't cause him to act the way he is. I just want it to all make sense and be real :)

leaghchristensen@yahoo.com

CrystalGB said...

I like villians who are bad for a reason;something has happened to make them that way and that they are redeemable.
Your book sounds great. I like the cover.

Wynter Daniels said...

I loved your villain in Deadly Fear. He was so cold and evil. That's the sort of character I remember, one that would truly frighten me if he were real. Congrats on your new release. Can't wait to read it.

Edie Ramer said...

You have great villains, Cindy! Villains can be great fun to write. I usually have scenes in my villain's POV. He (or she) is the hero of her own story, and it's easier to know that story when we're in her POV.

Taylor Z said...

I like the villians that truly bring out the fear. That make your skin crawl, and your heart pump. Someone above said, they like villians that are bad for reason, i agree with that. Have a great day!

Danielle Gorman said...

I like a villian with a good backstory. I also like it when they have some redeeming qualities. I hate cheesy villians.

iqb99@yahoo.com

Cynthia Eden said...

Hey, Jillian! Thanks for coming by! I love discovering why a villain has gone bad--so many possibilities.

Hi, Victoria! A redeeming quality is always a nice bonus.

Cynthia Eden said...

Thanks, Miranda! So glad you've heard good things! :-) Some villains can just chill to the bone--those guys terrify me!

LOL, Kimmie, do you like the bad guys?

Cynthia Eden said...

Lea, I hope you enjoy Deadly Fear! Ah, the creepy/blending hero--another of my favorites!

Hey, Leagh! Excellent point! The villain's actions and motivations need to make sense.

Cynthia Eden said...

Thanks, Crystal! Of the Deadly books, this may be my favorite cover.

Thank you for the congrats, Wynter! And how are you doing? Hope life is treating you well!

Cynthia Eden said...

Hi, Edie! Thanks! I love writing my villains--probably too much!

Taylor, I don't like the idea that a guy is just...evil. Like you, I want to know what made him that way.

Cynthia Eden said...

Danielle, the cheesy ones are the worst! I can't be afraid of the overdramatic ones.

Cathy M said...

I love a villian worthy of redemption. Especially fun in a series, when he gets his own story and becomes a hero in our eyes.

Cynthia Eden said...

Hi, Cathy! I love to see that evolution, too--so fun!

Mary G said...

Hi Cynthia
Don't enter me. I just read Deadly Fear & Heat back to back & OMG - amazing. So HOT & I'm not talking about the fires LOL. So looking forward to Deadly Lies.

donnas said...

I completely agree. Even in a villain we need depth. And Hannibal Lectar is a wonderful example of that. By the time I finished Hannibal Rising I wasnt sure what to think about him anymore. I knew he was the bad guy and evil but that was no longer his whole character.

Looking forward to Deadly Heat and Deadly Lies. Loved the first.

Thanks for sharing!

Stephanie said...

I love a villian who realizes what he has done in the end and tries to make ammends.

smccar1 at hotmail dot com

Sarah said...

I love learning about how villains came to be and why they are/do the things they do. You have to have a well-rounded villain character to match the h/h for it to be a good story.

smaccall @ comcast.net