learn to live with them

The 9 Elements of a VILLAIN

If we’re being honest, one character is always the most fun to develop when you’re writing a new story. It must be the main character, right? The person you’re going to follow throughout the story, the one that means the most to you?

Nope. It’s the villain.

Villains are just FUN. You get to creep into the darkest corners of your writer brain and conjure up the most unashamedly detestable human being you possibly can. 

This is how we look when we begin creating a villain. 

But sometimes, it can be difficult to to make sure they’re fully believable humans. So here are the nine elements that have helped me out when developing these terrible people … 

1) Hero’s Shadow:

The relationship between the main character and the villain is the most important one in the story, because it is the source of all conflict. Without the villain causing trouble, the main character wouldn’t have the chance to be a hero. Without that trouble, the main character’s weaknesses wouldn’t be pressured, which means they couldn’t change. The villain is a condensed and magnified embodiment of the inner weakness that the hero is battling. They’re the SHADOW of hero, the example of what will happen if the main character goes down the wrong path. Both are facing the same problem in different ways. For example Darth Vader and Luke.  

2) Conflict Strategy:  

In the pursuit of stopping the hero from achieving their goal, the villain is going to attack them on 1) a personal relationship level 2) a societal level and 3) an inner level. They’re going to attack the people around them, they’re going to cause consequences for the community surrounding them, they’re going to get into their head and plague them. Because the hallmark of a villain is that they’re the person who’s perfectly suited to attack the hero’s greatest weakness. Villains should have a distinct set of tactics to destroy the main character, on at least two levels. 

3) Flaws: 

This one’s expected. Of course a villain has flaws, it’s in the job description. But flaws do not equate to ‘He kicks turtles every morning before breakfast’ or 'His favorite hobby is butterfly stomping’ or, more within the realm of possibility, “He wants to kill the hero”. These are evil actions, NOT flaws. A lot of villains, particularly in movies, will be given horrible things to do without any explanation for WHY they do them. And it’s pretty easy to give them reasons: just give them human weaknesses! That’s it. Whether the actions they take are as small as theft or as big as blowing up a planet, these actions stem from recognizable HUMAN FLAWS. So like a main character, a villain needs mental and moral flaws.  

Yup, even Maleficent has human flaws. And she’s a dragon part of the time. 

4) Counter Goal: 

All characters exist because they want something. And what do villains want? To get whatever the main character wants (for very different reasons), to stop them from reaching their goal, or another goal that directly conflicts with the hero’s goal. As long as that big tangible thing they want locks hero and villain in battle, you’re good. Think 101 Dalmatians: Cruella and the good guys are fighting over the puppies.  

5) Surface Motivations:  

Why is it that villains always have a team of followers? Because villains never outright state their true motivations. They always have a cover story, and that cover will paint them as righteous. Villains want to look like the good guy. So their real Hidden Motivations are defended by twisting perceptions of Good & Evil, by portraying evil acts in a positive light, by indulging their followers selfish emotions and desire to feel like “one of the good guys. " 

Take Gothel for example: she’s a loving mother who wants to protect her daughter from all the world’s darkness. (Sure you do, Flynn stabber.)  

Surface Motivations never stand up to logical scrutiny and a functioning moral compass, but giving your bad guy a compelling argument against your good side always makes things more interesting, which brings us to …

6) Counter Statement:

The main character needs to learn some kind of truth that will enable them to fix their lives, overcome their weaknesses, banish their ghosts. It’s whatever statement about "how to live a better life” you want to prove with your story. Your villain has other ideas. They don’t agree with that statement, have other beliefs about living life well, and represent an argument against it. For example, Voldemort: “there is no good and evil, there is only power, and those too weak to seek it." 

Although your argument isn’t very convincing, Voldy. I mean, you’re living in the back of some guy’s head.

7) Characterization: 

This is everything on the surface of the villain. The way they speak, the way they look, the way they act, their role in life, their status and power. This is the facade they project for the world to see, a calculated effort to control how they are perceived. This is closely connected to that surface want, because that surface is what they wish people to believe about them. Over time, the reader and the other characters are going to be able to see through this mask and see what it conceals. My favorite Disney example of this is Mother Gothel: on the surface she’s this bubbly mom who loves Rapunzel and wants to protect her from the harshness of the world. 

You can think of this as the text … 

8) Hidden Motivation: 

And this is the subtext. That surface motivation they want the world to believe is a mask concealing their true motivation, which is always rooted in their flaws,  selfishness, and skewed beliefs. 

9) Ghosts, Justification, Self-Obsession: 

These three are closely related, so they get counted together.
Like main characters, villains have GHOSTS: events from their backstories that knocked their worldviews out of alignment, that marked the beginning of their weaknesses, that haunt them still. Because these happened, the originally benign person allowed themselves to turn into someone who could occupy the job of "villain” in a story. Usually, these events are genuine misfortunes and are worthy of sympathy, just like the ghosts of a main character. Think of Voldemort growing up in an orphanage talking to snakes.

BUT! When it comes to ghosts, the major difference between a hero and a villain is HOW THEY DEAL with these unpleasant past events. Both have suffered, but react to suffering in very different ways. A villain will be consumed by these events, obsessed with the real (or imagined) persecution or disadvantage they’ve endured, convinced that all personal responsibility is nullified by their status of injured party. Past tragedies become a talisman that grants immunity from decency. 

This scene from A Series of Unfortunate Events sums it up.  An adult makes an excuse for a terrible person by saying he had a terrible childhood. And Klaus replies: 

Yes, maybe they’ve both lived through tragedy. But THE KIDS aren’t hurting others because of it. 

Because villains, who are constantly victimizing heroes, are completely convinced that THEY are the true victims here. No matter what they do, no matter what they are, they blame everything on that ghost, whether it was another person, society, or circumstances. And later they blame the hero, who they see as the REAL villain. For example, Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame:  

“It’s not my fault, I’m not to blame”

So! WHY are villains like this?

SELF-OBSESSION! Yup, villains spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about themselves and their plights and their plots. Think of any villain and it’s not hard to see the inherent narcissism behind everything they do. Like willingness to take action is the nonnegotiable trait of a main character, self-obsession is the trait that all villains seem to share. 

So! Developing villains in this way has worked out for me so far. If it looks like it might be helpful for you, give it a try.

And in the spirit of creating someone to torment our main characters and ruin their lives, here’s one more maniacal laugh for the road:

I SWEAR if y’all don’t start letting the stranger things kids enjoy their childhood and let them make mistakes and learn from them and have fun and be successful and live their best lives I’m going to RIOT 

nico cant take a break

what if
when icarus fell
apollo caught him
before he hit the sea,
arms as warm as the sun,
but safer.

what if
when ariadne cast the rope
across a broken branch
aphrodite stepped in
with a reminder that this,
this is not the kind of love
you die for.

what if
when achilles
was ready for war
ares appeared with a smile
and said “you win well when you win,
but what are you unwilling
to lose if you lose?”
and achilles knew the answer.

if you could
retell the tale wouldn’t you want
to tell it kinder? wouldn’t you
want to give them peace, even love,
where you could?



l.s.
| I AM TIRED OF RE-WRITING TRAGEDY WITHOUT CHANGE. LET THEM LIVE. LET THEM LEARN. LET THEM LOVE © 2016

So let me tell you about this cat.

Anyone who knows me personally knows that in February of this year I was kicked out by my parents. This extremely nice family (the parents of an ex I dated almost 8 years ago who I’m still friends with. Go figure!) Took me in and I’ve been living with them ever since.

They have three dogs, which I’ve known for years. I only learned that they had a cat when I came to live with them.

“When did you get a cat?” I asked them.

“Oh, we’ve always had her. She’s just not very social.”

This is Snuggles (ironically named bc she was assumed to be the most un-snuggly cat).

I’ve never owned a cat. My mother was allergic so we always had dogs in the house. So, having a cat in the house was foreign and exciting for me. Whenever I would see her, I would try so very hard to interact with her. For the first few months I lived here, she avoided me.

The vacant bedroom that soon became mine used to be a storage room where she would prowl and sleep. So when I started to inhabit her space, she was kinda pissed. She would enter the room and find a place to chill, and just stare at me with these ‘this bitch’ eyes.

The family said she was just like that, so I tried not to let it get to me. The dogs liked me just fine.

Things slowly started to change. I first noticed it when I would come home from work, usually around 11 or 12 at night (I worked night shift at a fast food joint). Snuggles is an indoor/outdoor cat because she doesn’t like litter boxes and she knows how to use the dog door. She spends the day outside and comes in at night.

She began greeting me at my car when I would come home from work. She would come outside and sit halfway between the front door and the mailbox, and meow at me until I greeted her back. She wouldn’t let me pet her, but she would go inside the house with me.

Then, I would be cooking in the kitchen, and she would hop up on the counter and watch me. This is when she finally started to let me pet her. She has a jar of cat treats so I started to give her treats. She would meow and meow until I gave her treats.

After this, when she would greet me at my car, she would flop onto the cement and let me pet her outside. Only a little, though, because then she’d use her claws or nip at me.

Then, she began investigating me in my room.

She would hop up on the bed and wander around, smell my things, stick her head in my drinking glasses on the bedside table. I would come home from work and find her curled up in my blankets on my bed if I left my door even slightly open.

When I would close my door, she would meow or push herself against the door until I let her in. Then she’d jump up on my bed and make herself comfortable at the foot of my bed.

She didn’t start to actually snuggle with me until a month ago when I lost my job and my depression got really bad.

Every night she comes to my room and demands entrance so she can sleep with me. During the day or night she wants to be cuddled up with me in my room. She makes herself comfortable in my lap while I use my laptop or play with my 3DS. She’ll curl up behind my knees if she can’t get in my lap.

But just last week, she started doing something new.

When I sleep, I sleep on my side. I tuck a thin pillow between my legs for hip support, and I have a large, squishy, fluffy pillow I hug to my chest. I cannot sleep if I don’t have both of these things.

I was sound asleep one night, Snuggles curled up behind my knees, when I felt her climb up on top of me. She moved to the side of my belly, where it met my hugging-pillow, and she kneaded my side until she was content, and she curled up on top of me like I was a large cushion to sleep on.

Now, every night, she sleeps on top of me like so.

I’ve never owned a cat. I’m awkward with cats. This cat was previously unfriendly and aloof, but she knew that I needed her companionship. Knew that I needed a friend and love that I wasn’t getting elsewhere. This cat adopted me. This cat loves me. You can’t convince me otherwise.

4

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. For ever.

6

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. And I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.

8

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. For ever.

6

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. And I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay. I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.

10

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know, that only love can truly save the world. So I stay. I fight, and I give, for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever. — Wonder Woman (2017) dir. Patty Jenkins

How to Find your Purpose

1. Take time to ponder the questions “What really matters in life; what do I want to have achieved when I look back over my life?”

2. Make time for solitude and silence. Filling every minute makes it hard to listen to our intuition, or that inner guiding voice.

3. Seek out people who inspire you – and then learn from them. There are many people who live inspiring lives. We can learn from their experience, and what they have to share.

4. Consciously monitor your progress. It is easy to slip back into unproductive habits. Hence, we need to be committed to sticking to our plan.

5. Accept that struggles and setbacks will be part of your experience. There will be times when you are tempted to give up and stop trying … but choosing to keep going will lead you to your dreams.

4

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their mind…and learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. A choice each must make for themselves. Something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know that only love can truly save the world. So I stay, I fight and I give for the world I know can be.This is my mission now. Forever.
Wonder Woman (2017) dir. Patty Jenkins.

5

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. And now I know… that only love can truly save the world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission now. Forever.Wonder Woman (2017) dir. Patty Jenkins

8

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.

I have liked, I have loved, I have been hurt. I have hurt people. I miss people that I shouldn’t even think about anymore. I ignore people that I should give importance to. I have made mistakes in the past and I have learned to live with them. I’ve learned to accept people for who they are. I have suffered I’ve cried I have faced rejection I don’t even want to be alive, but the thing is I have a million reasons to be alive and I just haven’t found them yet. I fall. I rise. I am not perfect, but I am who I am. This is me.
10

get to know me meme: [2/10] favorite female characters ♡ diana prince (dceu)
“i used to want to save the world. to end war and bring peace to mankind. but then, i glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. i learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. the choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. i’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. seen the worst of this world, and the best. seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. now i know. only love can save this world. so i stay. i fight, and i give… for the world i know can be. this is my mission, now. forever.”

8

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. For ever.

3

I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them, there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves - something no hero will ever defeat. I’ve touched the darkness that lives in between the light. Seen the worst of this world, and the best. Seen the terrible things men do to each other in the name of hatred, and the lengths they’ll go to for love. Now I know. Only love can save this world. So I stay. I fight, and I give… for the world I know can be. This is my mission, now. Forever.