Monday 4 November 2019

5 Characteristics of a Romance Villain

By Cassandra Samuels

Villain: A  character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.

Don't we just love to hate a good villain?  This week I'll be exploring the world of the bad guy/gal and what's needed to make a good one. Villain in this post also refers to villainess.

In romance the villain is someone who could stop our love birds from getting together. Someone who could be the cause of past, present or future trauma. Or who might endanger either hero or heroine.

1. Villains have to have a backstory, something that made them into this person they have become. They can often be charming and quite likable until you learn their true motives. What are their motives and what brought them to this point?
courtesy of Cat Planet
2. Villains have a lot of the same characteristics as the hero, it's just that they are misdirected. They are often convinced that they have been hard done by or wronged in some way and therefore their anger and revenge is justified.
3. Villains will not stop until they get what they want, to the point of obsession.  Often their revenge will be the only thing that is keeping them going. They have committed their life to the pursuit of their justice.

4. Villains have to be a worthy opponent to your hero. It's important that your villain's actions prompt the hero to act, even if it is out of character for him. Otherwise why would the hero bother to act at all?
screen shot from the movie The Scarlet Pimpernel
5.Villains are smart and calculating and can't be fools, although they may play the fool to disguise their true motives. Ultimately, though, you want your villain to be as well fleshed out as your protagonists.

What do you look for in a great romance villain? What is your favourite romance villain from a book?

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  1. Hi Cassandra! What I look for in a villain is a backstory that gives credibility to why they are the way they are. One of my favourites is Juliette Durand, the first wife of Matthew Clairmont (the hero) in A Discovery of Witches. She doesn't play a huge role in the story but she has a genuine reason for her hatred of Diana Bishop the heroine).

  2. Point No1 and probably the most important of them all. Even Psychopaths have backstories.

  3. Hi Cassandra! Very interesting post about villains in romance novels. Like Marilyn, what I look for in a villain is the backstory that gives a valid reason why they are the way they are. With romantic suspense and paranormal my favourite subgenres, I've read about many villains. One of my favourites is Cabhan, the dark sorcerer who covets the pure light power of the three cousins in Nora Roberts' Cousins O'Dwyer trilogy.

  4. Hi Cassandra. I don't like villains who are just simply evil or naughty for no reason. Like Enisa, I look for a valid reason as to why they are so nasty...and can they be redeemed or at least less of a villain by the end of the book? I used to get confused by James Bond villains who seemed to be villains for the sake of being villains. I couldn't understand why people weren't simply nice to others! So for me, it's good motivation. And potential redemption...!

  5. Lovely to have a spotlight on villains, Cassandra and a good reminder about needing a backstory that has shaped them into being a villain. I'm thinking of Game of Thrones and how some characters in that story may be considered villains by some but not by others all because their backstory might make us more empathetic to them. Joffrey Baratheon was definitely a villain in my eyes and I can't for the life of me remember his backstory. Was he simply born pure evil or was he shaped that way because he knew about his parentage and that made him bitter and twisted? Obviously if he had a backstory it didn't resonate with me because I was quite pleased when that character didn't return for another season!


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