Writing from a Villain Point of View
Do you like to include the villain’s point of view in your stories? I didn’t in the past, but now I’m finding more and more that I like to include it. It seems to round out the story more. Villains are people, too, and almost like main characters. They are certainly more important than secondary characters. For that reason, it’s imperative to give them strong motivations for doing their evil deeds. What better way to show this motivation than to get inside their heads?

What’s weird about writing villain deep POV is that you need to become the bad guy in order to do this effectively. You have to become bad and think in malicious ways. Sometimes you have to plot and plan to kill your beloved main characters. Of course, you know the villain won’t succeed, at least we hope not. But a strong villain is vital because they need to give the hero and heroine a run for their money. A weak villain would be no challenge and would not force the hero and heroine to live up to their fullest potential. A strong villain can cause your hero and heroine to grow and change in interesting ways. I love it when realistic bad guys force the main characters to do drastic things they wouldn’t normally do to save their own life or the lives of those they love.

A villain who is nothing but evil isn’t 100% believable unless you show exactly why he/ she should be this way. If instead you show at least one positive thing about the villain, show a vulnerability, or delve into something he/ she cares deeply about, this can make the villain more three-dimensional and believable. Someone once said that the villain sees himself as the hero of his own story. This a fantastic way to look at the situation. The villain believes he is right and believes in his own cause.

Another great thing about villain POV is that you can use it to increase the suspense. The reader gets to see what’s going on behind the scenes that the hero and heroine don’t know. Therefore they can be biting their nails long before the hero and heroine realize they are in danger.

Sometimes I’ve been known to freak myself out when writing villain point of view. I didn’t know I could think in such evil ways. LOL I can’t say that I enjoy it as much as hero and heroine point of view, but I do love the way it rounds out my story and provides added suspense, drama and action.

Do you enjoy writing villain point of view? If so, what has it taught you? Who is your favorite villain from TV, a movie or book?
17 Responses
  1. I would have to say one of my favorite villains is one of the pics you have above: Alan Rickman as Sheriff of Nottingham. As nasty as he is, he is also bungling and the exasperated looks he gives when dealing with others incompetence is hilarious. I like a villain that has some air of humor, whether he likes it or not.

  2. Nicole North Says:

    I agree, Casey. Alan Rickman plays a fantastic villain. I loved the humor.

  3. Carly Carson Says:

    Linda Howard has a villain in her story "All the Queen's Men" that readers love. Some have asked her to write a story for him. So I would say she was very successful in making him interesting. Though I personally could not get beyond the fact that he was a terrorist (no matter how much he did it all for his dd).

    Your post has many excellent points about creating villains.

  4. I always write scenes in the villain's POV in my full-length novels. In novellas there's just not enough space and sometimes I don't even have an actual villain in those. But it is kind of fun to get inside those villain's heads.

    Not sure who my favorite villain is though, but I like ones who aren't pure evil. They have to have a realistic side to them.

  5. Danica Avet Says:

    Oh yes! I love to write from the villain's POV. My CP has told me after critiquing two of my manuscripts, that my villains are the best characters! lol I'm not sure if that's a good thing, or a bad thing. Like, am I really that evil and sneaky, or are they just more focused than the main characters? *sigh* We'll have to see, lol

    And Alan Rickman in Die Hard is my favorite all-time villain...oh and Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs...oh! and Christian Bale in American Psycho...okay, that's it.

  6. Love your post Nicole, great tips. I want to get deeper into the heads of some of my villains, right now my WIP doesn't allow its bad guy much room (maybe he'll have a spin-off!)

    In my pre-writing days, I admit to having less interest in the villain of a story, but I'm reading Dwight Swain's 'Creating Story people' right now and realise how deep-layered and fascinating those bad guys are - every movie I see and story I read, I'm deconstructing those tricky villains trying to understand their motivations - they can be complex! (It must be hard on them, being so nasty all the time, but I'm sure their moms love them.) Don't you think the best moment of any villain is that moment when you think they're out of the picture for good, then they cackle back into life for one last swipe at the good guy? Yes, it is predictable but delicious. I still breathe a sigh of relief at the end of Die Hard when Karl the german terrorist is cut down once and for all - thank goodness for Al the faithful cop ("Oh the weather outside is frightful...")

    Oh dear, I'm all caught up in John and Holly's make-up kiss now, and can't think of an my own favourite villain. Will follow Danica's lead and go with Alan "I-must-play-villains" Rickman from his Die Hard performance.

  7. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks Carly! LH's villain sounds great and 3D. I haven't read that one.

  8. Nicole North Says:

    Susan, I agree that there's generally not enough space in novellas for villain pov. I've found it very interesting to get inside the villain's heads in my novels though.

  9. Nicole North Says:

    Danica, sounds like you're an expert! That's awesome you have well-developed villains. Those are great villains you mentioned.

  10. Nicole North Says:

    Nicola, thanks! I agree some of the best villains are very complex. Yes, I love that moment when the villain makes one last stand. I still remember the one with Glen Close. Talk about a nail biting moment. Alan Rickman is one of my favorites. He always plays a complex, menacing, yet entertaining villain you love to hate.

  11. I love writing my villains POV's. I think they have to be as interesting as the hero and heroine of a romance. I like to give villains an interesting back story and make them bad but with something there the reader can identify with.

    Like Ben on LOST. He's a great villain. I couldn't stand him at times but I was completely intrigued by him and even understood his motivations.

  12. Nicole North Says:

    Anita, that's true! That definitely helps villains when the reader can identify with something about them. It gives them more realism. Ben is one I love to hate. :) At times he's horribly bad, at other times he's almost a non-villain and I feel sorry for him (like when he lost his daughter, even though it was his fault.) Lost has a lot of that great duality of good and bad in one person, whether a villain or main character.

  13. Lee Says:

    I love writing the bad guy, and getting into his head. I've been told I need to write a story around my bad guy and how he got bad. Which would be fun if I had time.

  14. Annette Says:

    Writing a good villain is essential and so difficult. I think it's easy to get inside the head of the heroine or create a hero you love but villains often end up as caricatures of what we think a villain should be.

    Thanks for a great post and Carly, I'm going to check out that Linda Howard book you mentioned, love her!

  15. Nicole North Says:

    Lee, that's great that you have fantastic villain skills... for your stories. :)

    Annette, I agree. Villains are a bit harder for me too. But the villain pov is a skill I'm having fun developing.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    I agree, no bad guy can be 100% evil and believable too. Humans are not born evil. And humans all have the capacity to love and regret and so on. Just as a purely all aroung good guy who never does wrong isn't believable, a bad guy has to have something he/she cares or cared for

  17. Anonymous Says:

    "I agree, no bad guy can be 100% evil and believable too."


    I'll have to disagree with that. In the book series "Sword of Truth" by Terry Goodkind, the reader is introduced to the main villain in just the first few chapters, and made (right away) to dislike him. By chapter 19 (out of 49 chapters), you absolutely despise him, and can not wait to see his end. He is evil through and through, and has not one redeeming quality that I can think of. Still, he is believable.

    What's more is that there are many more 'big-baddies' littered throughout the series, and they are no better (lol). They are evil. Pure evil. And yet, they are some of... if not the most convincing villains I have encountered. So, it can be done.


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