Villain Checklist

By: Brittany Lawrence

Villains, we love to hate them. When building a villain, I ask myself these five questions.

1. Are they convinced they’re the good guy?

Every villain somehow feels they are the good guy. They may see what they are doing is not moral, but necessary or justified.

Have I shown on stage my villain’s perspective? If not, how can I show or imply that perspective?

2. Are they likeable?

Maybe they volunteer for a soup kitchen. Maybe they feed the neighborhood stray. Maybe they return their grocery cart to the corral.

No matter how many relatable, positive qualities I give my villain, the negative must outweigh them. It’s not about balance but a tipping of the scale.

3. Are they a worthy opponent for my hero?

There is nothing like building your character up through out the story to meet the villain and the hero is too strong. Where is the challenge?

If I find myself in this position, I take a step back and retrace my steps. Sometimes I need to add more information as to why my villain can catch the hero unaware. Perhaps, an even stronger villain is pulling the strings in the background?

When in doubt, I give my villain more tools.

4. Do I like when my villain is on stage?

If I don’t get excited when my villain is on stage, the reader won’t get excited either.

It’s time to awaken my inner five-year-old and start asking why. Why are they here now? Why are they saying what they are saying? Why are they doing these things to my hero? Why don’t they excite me?

5. Is there a part of my villain no light can touch?

I always give my villains the option to be redeemable. Some even take me up on the offer. No matter how they grow and change I enjoy reading a villain with a darkness they cannot wash away. We all have scars.

If your villain makes you hate them just a little bit, you’re on the right road.


Brittany Lawrence

Brittany A. Lawrence has seventeen years of writing experience under her belt. From self-publishing her first novel at fourteen; to contributing to Felt Tips an erotic anthology, her writing experience is vast. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and tortie, Midnight. You can find her writing as B. A. Lawrence on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pintrest.