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Apr 26 2016

#atozchallenge V is for Villains #Writing Character Traits @RayneHall

#atozchallenge V is for Villains #Writing Character Traits @RayneHall

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V is for “Villains”
Book: Writing About Villains by Rayne Hall
@RayneHall
My dice roll: 371 (ebook location out of 1091)
Lesson: villain character traits

A psychological profile of the antagonist.
There are fourteen villain character traits listed in chapter four. Decide which of those apply to the villain in your story (or will apply, if there isn’t a story yet).

I’m playing along, as I have been all month. Here’s mine featuring The Eyes in the Shadows from my Fractions of Existence book.

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Intelligent— This is a must for this sect. The required reading list to pledge yourself to the cause has books in several languages, at least one of which is considered a “dead” language.

Psychologically astute— Is being part of a fanatical religious sect a psychologically sound decision? I’m not going to debate where the gray area is between faith and crazy. But no one in the sect is on track for being taken away in a white coat and locked into a padded room. (Then again, they do engage in torture. But so have many governments.)

Single-minded— Nothing distracts them from their goal. That’s part of the pledge to join this sect, so obviously it applies.

Good-looking— Some of the members are appealing to the eye. It isn’t an important trait, or one that’s relevant in this story.

Popular— Those in the sect would say that the leaders are popular. It’s by invitation only. Outsiders aren’t aware that it exists. Internally popular would probably be the best description.

Trauma Survivor— Gray area here. The Eyes in the Shadows sect believes that being alive, being on Earth, is the worst possible punishment. Living is traumatic, in their opinion and belief system.

Hubris— Yes, The Eyes in the Shadows consider their faith to be superior.

Self-centered— The sect puts the needs of the faith before all else. Living is, after all, a punishment. So if others have to suffer to end the madness of life on Earth and get everyone on to the next spiritual plane, so be it.

Ambitious— The goal is the bring the apocalypse. Considering that’s never been done before on this world, it’s a pretty lofty goal. They have to annihilate Xavier and his kind first, which is why they’ve been failing for thousands of years. But they think they’ve finally figured out the key!

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Unscrupulous— The end does justify the means to this sect.

Enjoys challenges— I’m not sure if they enjoy them or are just willing to face them because they want to get everyone to the next plane of existence. Enjoy it or not, they do some challenging tasks without complaint.

Has a good side— They think they’re saving your soul. As with most religious debates, you can’t prove them wrong. They see their work as good. And they have done charitable things over the centuries to aid those who suffer. It’s another gray area on this one.

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I used 12 of the 14 traits listed.

Who’s your favorite fictional villain? What trait do you think makes him/her/it/them so deliciously evil?




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5 comments

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  1. Julie

    This was a fascinating and illuminating question. I went through my list of 5-star books on Goodreads, and couldn’t name any of the villains as favorites. There was a wealth of strong protagonists with killer character arcs, but nothing jumped out at me about the ‘enemy’, other than the enemy within each of them. I’m going to have to think about this some more, especially as it relates to my own writing. Thanks for posting this! @abetterjulie from http://www.persephoneknits.blogspot.com
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  2. C.Lee McKenzie

    My kids were always terrified by Cruella Deville because her single-minded goal was to skin those puppies.
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  3. Juneta

    Thrawn from the Star Wars booksThrawn trilogy written by Timothy Zahn. One of the best ever written he makes the books. He has not special powers but he is an alien race but nothing that humans cannot do too. Awesome villain. He was…

    Your definitions:

    Intelligent— This is a must for this sect. The required reading list to pledge yourself to the cause has books in several languages, at least one of which is considered a “dead” language.
    Psychologically astute— Is being part of a fanatical religious sect a psychologically sound decision? I’m not going to debate where the gray area is between faith and crazy. But no one in the sect is on track for being taken away in a white coat and locked into a padded room. (Then again, they do engage in torture. But so have many governments.)

    Psychologically astute— Is being part of a fanatical religious sect a psychologically sound decision? I’m not going to debate where the gray area is between faith and crazy. But no one in the sect is on track for being taken away in a white coat and locked into a padded room. (Then again, they do engage in torture. But so have many governments.)

    Ambitious— The goal is the bring the apocalypse. Considering that’s never been done before on this world, it’s a pretty lofty goal. They have to annihilate Xavier and his kind first, which is why they’ve been failing for thousands of years. But they think they’ve finally figured out the key!

    Enjoys challenges— I’m not sure if they enjoy them or are just willing to face them because they want to get everyone to the next plane of existence. Enjoy it or not, they do some challenging tasks without complaint.
    Has a good side— They think they’re saving your soul. As with most religious debates, you can’t prove them wrong. They see their work as good. And they have done charitable things over the centuries to aid those who suffer. It’s another gray area on this one.

    Plus: I added:

    Believes in his cause with excellent reasons to believe making the Empire, not the all evil thing you might think, Good people live in the empire.

    He can read cultures through their art and make predictions how they will act using psychology. He is scary than Darth Vader IMO because of this and no special powers. He is just well educated and knows how to use his mind in an intellectual sense. The biggest factor that makes him scary to me.

    He is loyal, there are many admiral things about him, He is not a bad guy. He is just doing a job in a cause that he believes in, Best villain ever. I want mine to be that good, but not sure I have a strong enough skill yet to pull it off but that is a goal.

    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit
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  4. L. Moon

    Dont have a favorite villain – but I think the best one Ive ever seen written as a character kept coming back even tho the elements kept trying to destroy him.
    Found a good A to Z wine today – V for Vino
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  5. rayne Hall

    Thanks for featuring my book. And what a fun and inspiring challenge, to assess your villain against the character traits checklist, without the context of the full guide! I’m impressed. 🙂
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