Have you ever known someone who would put you down in any way that they could? Then you have met with a villain. It is easy to think that a villain is just for suspense or thriller type novels, but they are a great source of conflict in all genres.
To figure out the best type of villain for your novel, start with figuring out the end of the book goal for your characters. These would be things like love, safety, freedom, security, etc. Then look for the type villain that would make reaching that goal difficult. Also, at this preliminary stage you should consider the competence of the character, or what they are especially good at. You want the villain to oppose this as well.
*Sarah is a doctor who works in the Emergency Room. She values saving lives. Wes is a homicide detective who catches killers.
Villain- A killer who has targeted Sarah when she is working her shift at the hospital. Bringing his victims to the edge of death and leaves a note for her on the body. He targets victims only in the area where the ambulance would transport them to her ER and only on the days she is working. (This challenges her competence and provides opportunity for Wes and Sarah to disagree about whether she should continue working.)
*Carmen is a florist who arranges beautiful flowers for events like weddings. She dreams of love, but fears it is just a fairy tale until she meets Jake. Jake is a photographer who specializes in wedding photos.
*Villain- Carmen’s next door neighbor is the unsuspecting villain. She means well, but is always trying to match make. This leads to a lot of conflict for our happy couple as other suitors show up with flowers, or are invited to dinner next door along with an unsuspecting Carmen. (This keeps her from Jake and true love)
*Ramak is the last of her species on the planet. All of the elders of her community have planned for her to marry the prince of another species, but she doesn’t want to end her search for the legendary Kenon of her species that some say still exhists. They once were in love, but war separated them and she was told that he had died. Kenon lives in the outer perimeter waiting for the perfect opportunity to enter the city unawares to find Ramak. The wedding proves the perfect opportunity, but would it be too late to save her?
*Villain- The evil king who knows Kenon is still alive, but wants his son to marry Ramak gaining the riches of her kingdom. The king is powerful and rich as well. With all of the guards and army under his control, he tries to thwart Ramak’s exploration and eliminate her loyal followers.
*Loretta is the owner of the largest spread of land with control of water to the neighboring properties. She ran the ranch in her father’s ailing years, so when he passes she is determined to continue as before. Charles is the foreman of the ranch who worked for her in the last two years since her father became ill. He is skilled in leadership and recognizing that something is very wrong, even though Loretta pretends nothing is going on.
Villain- Someone in the small town knows her secret, that she really isn’t the blood daughter of the man she called father since she was three. They are determined to get the ranch or reveal her dirty secret and watch the bank claim what is rightfully hers. (This challenges her ability to hold onto and run the ranch.)
As you can see, creating a villain is as simple as determining what the character’s overarching goal is, their area of competence, and who would best keep them from their goals. Try this with your novel. Write down your hero/heroine’s name, there area of competence and their overarching goal. From there you can determine who would be the best villain.
Our Huddle Coach, Michelle Lim semi-finaled in the 2011 Genesis with Death’s Apprentice and received Bronze Medal Recognition in the 2010 Frasier contest with Singed. She is the vice president of MN N.I.C.E., a local chapter of ACFW. At My Book Therapy she coordinates the e-zine’s Genre Java Column and is the Brainstorm and Huddle Coach,our program for local craft groups. Michelle taught elementary school for eleven years. She lives in Minnesota with her husband Hui Hong and four rambunctious kids that keep her life full of laughter and suspense. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.