Saturday, April 9, 2011

A to Z Challenge: Heroes and Villains

The hero... Our eyes and ears in the book. The heart of the story. The reason why we root for the light side to win. Our reminder that good can triumph over evil - no matter how great the adversity. Also, potentially the most irritating character in the cast. 

The villain... We hate him, but need him, because without him, there would be no story. The hero would be nothing without this guy, because he would never have lifted his butt out of the office chair (or whatever his sedate lifestyle might be) if the villain hadn't done something to spur him into action. The villain can also be the most compelling character in the book. A good villain will always get some sort of rise out of hero and reader alike. In fact, the villain is probably going to be a big reason as to why we even bond with the hero. And damned if I don't sometimes support him instead. 

Why? Well... 

Sort version is: I have a thing for badasses. Of any persuasion. 

Why would that be a problem? 

Ever noticed how the hero can be such a girl
"I never asked for this." "Why must I be the one that must deal with this?" "Oh sigh but the life of the chosen gifted one with wings and a halo is sooooo difficult." Any one of this is not necessarily a problem. But for some reason, the line isn't drawn until faaaaar past my woobie tolerance level. 

As supposed to the villain...
"Hmm... and suddenly I can summon all the bats out of hell... interesting." "I have no fear or concern for collateral damage. I think I can do something with this..." "Damn... being the evil overlord sucks sometimes. But man does it get me pumped!" 

I'm thinking a lot of you are seeing what I mean. 

It's not necessarily that I have massive sympathies with evil. But the fact is that I have a respect for people who see their strengths and owns them. 

Yes, the life of the pure and the good is a lot more difficult, but it must have its perks. If I can't get to experience some of them through the hero's eyes, isn't it natural that I will then rather move over to the villain's end, where it's usually obvious exactly how much the villain enjoys his job? 

So come on... let the hero enjoy the perks of his situation at least a little. It doesn't make him less heroic. It just makes him less of an unnecessary martyr. And then you can squash him like a bug under the burden of his hero status.

All you like. 

Just don't make the torture the only thing the hero experiences. 

Do you also start rooting for the wrong side if the hero doesn't measure up? 


  1. I think most of my characters sit somewhere between light and dark. My heroes tend to have questionable traits and my most of my villains definitely have a nicer side to them as well.

  2. What a great post! I think the villain has to have something about him otherwise he's less human and we really don't care. Adding flaws in the hero and something positive in the villain makes for a great battle.

  3. I agree with you. I may not root for evil, but sometimes it can be really interesting. Maybe because we identify with the hero TOO much. Most of us try to be compassionate, considerate and want to do the right thing. It's quite liberating to imagine for a while that you only need think of yourself and what you want, like the evil side does.

  4. Writing for children, I always try to find an excuse for my villain's behaviour. Even if he is a dragon I make him a lonely dragon... :0)

  5. Some villians I write, I like. Sometimes they make me laugh.

  6. I do like my heroes sort of ruthless and my villains sorta sexy and damaged. Hmm. Maybe I'm going about this wrong.

  7. Often happens that change roles and the story changes depending on the hand that writes. It's like the eternal struggle over the interpretation of good and evil. A greeting.

  8. Great post! Very interesting concept.

  9. I haven't really written anything with a clear hero/villian, but this was a great H post! We're behind...H on Sunday, I guess!

  10. Even the hero should have some flaws and the villain should have some sympathetic trait or the reader will get bored or frustrated. No one is truly all good or all bad. Great post Misha!

  11. It's true we need both of them and it's funny how this post remind me of the movie Megamind. LOL

  12. I laughed when you said that the hero is also the most potentially irritating member of the cast. It can be SO TRUE, LOL. Thanks for the insightful post!

  13. I definitely love kickass heros! They get so annoying when they just moan about what's happening with them. After reading a few books like that, I usually get turned off of reading for awhile. Love the Hunger Games because everyone was pretty badass, and it was easy to feel for them all, which put more at stake.

    - allison writes

  14. Villains are often more intriguing than heroes -- which is probably why the "anti-hero" type protagonist has gained popularity in recent years.

  15. Great post! I agree with you, and sometimes I find I want the villian to win because I've grown to like him more (because the hero is such a wimp).

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  17. Sometimes, The hero is not well etched and the villain has a human side to him/her that I depends on the story actually...

  18. I like badasses too, and I think it's really great when you can make a good guy bad, so to speak.

    I think it's good for the villain to win some of the small battles for sure.


  19. Short answer: yes. I can't stand it when the hero is acting like a little girl, while the villain is all awesome. Makes me want to root for the villain.

    And I agree with LEon. This post is oddly reminiscent of Megamind. Which is totally a good thing. =)

  20. Hi Misha,
    Just let me say that you are my hero :) Whilst, some, heaven forbid, might consider me, yes, shy and humble me, a bit of a villain!
    And well done for continuing to bring further awareness of the alphabet through the great 'alphabet' challenge :)
    Now, of course, 'I' do wonder what letter will be next in this fascinating alphabet challenge.
    Hope you are having a lovely weekend and happy writing.
    In kindness, Gary.

  21. Excellent question.
    Also of interest to me is how easy it is to play the bad guy but how hard it is, as an actor, to really penetrate the role of a saint.

    Great post as usual!


  22. May the good always win, but he'd better be GOOD! :-)

  23. I can't recall a time when I rooted for the villain. But I definitely have liked certain villains! I didn't want them to win, but the character development was fantastic. My favorite villains are the ones I hate with such a passion I almost think they could be real. That's when I know the author did a fantastic job creating the perfect wicked villain!

  24. Sometimes villains are just more interesting than heroes. They have more complexity. In one of my books I tried to change things up a bit by introducing the villain as if he were the hero, and the hero as if he was the villain. Ultimately, I don't think it worked, but it was an interesting experiment!

  25. Al, I do that too. To me, the yin-yang feel of the good and evil with a bit of evil and good makes their interaction a lot more interesting to write.

    Rebecca I agree with you for the most part. Although, we have exceptions like the Joker in The Dark Knight and Voldemort that have very humanity left, but they are very compelling villains too.

    Christine, I have also thought about that. I mean... how liberating must it be that rules do not stop you from doing what you want? Perhaps that is why it's so much easier to corrupt a good person than to "sactify" a bad one.

    Carole, that is a consideration I never thought about, but it makes perfect sense to me. :-)

    Shelly, your comment made me smile, because that happens to me too. Fortunately, one of the main characters in Doorways has some very interesting views on black, white and functioning in grey areas. So I'll always root for the hero's side. ;-P

    Lol Sarah... one day, you will have to read Doorways. You'll understand why your comment amused me a great deal.

    Leovi, that's a good point. I actually am exploring that in my work in progress, because the bad guys think that they're in the right as much as the good ones do.

    Thanks Debra!

    Erica, your story must be very interesting. ^_^

    Good point, Bish. Although some stories benefit from bad bad characters. :-)

    Lol Leon I love Megamind! Maybe it sent me a subliminal message that I transferred to the post. ;-)

    Hehe thanks Laura J!

    Allison, I loved the Hunger Games characters for the same reason. I also liked the way Collins showed how the "good guys" can do some pretty evil stuff. But that's a story for another post. ^_^

    Milo, I also think people like anti-heroes for the simple reason that it makes them feel good about themselves. After all, if a broken heap of protoplasm like that can save the world... ;-)

    Varmint, exactly! I cannot like people I can't respect... And sometimes villains go about their acts in such a way that they earn my respect (grudging or otherwise). As supposed to the hero who's crying like a tantrumming child about a gift/situation that can/will lead to some serious awesome.

    Rekha, it definitely depends on the story. And you're right. Some villains just find a way to get onto my good side. In fact I can think of one or two that are totally squee-worthy. But I won't tell, because some people will thinking I'm weirder than I usually let on. ;-P

    Hehehe Better, you make me blush. I sometimes forget about how complicated things can look when most of it just comes intuitively in the end. :-)

    E.J. I also think that writers who can do that are completely awesome. The line between heroically badass and losing reader sympathy can be very narrow too. It's all about how the story is written. :-)

    Hehehe Amanda! Thanks. Given that I loved Megamind, I am very flattered that two of you picked up on it, even when I didn't do it on purpose. ^_^

    Aw thanks Gary! Hehehe I think there are those who remember me as a villain too. Let's just say I was never the sort to attempt to bully/manipulate/antagonize in any way. ;-) As for my "I"... you'll have to wait and see.

    QE... Hmmm... I don't know... I can think of dozens of people that played excellent heroes. On the villain end, there are many that played good villains. But the excellent ones - the ones that give me goosebumps to watch - I can count on my hands.

    Pebbles, I agree. I hate when something just "accidentally" happens that makes the hero win. It has to have reason and the biggest part of that reason should be that the hero worked his ass off for it.

    Laura M, I agree with you. I like my villains so twisted that they make me forget that they aren't real.

    Kate, it is a thought worth considering... Must have been a great experiment. ^_^

  26. I love heroes with a bit of a dark side; conversely, I love villians with a bit of a softer side. This makes both more interesting and less predictable, I think.

    Very interesting post!

  27. Oh, I love a good viilian. Like you, I often find myself rooting for them. And consequently? My heros are not always the nicest people around. . .they always have a hard edge to even out all that do gooder stuff. I know, I've gone over to the dark side. lol.

  28. YOu bring up a really good point about balance. to me, the best heroes are a little good AND evil. They just choose the good (without the lamenting - I hear you there).

  29. "Hmm... and suddenly I can summon all the bats out of hell... interesting."

    I love this line - I can see how all sorts of possibilities might flow from this. *Rats!* There I go, identifying with the villain.

    You make your point well - the hero(ine) has to be not so much the "Woe is me!' type.

  30. I agree with you there, Liz. Unpredictability is important to me too. :-)

    That can sometimes happen to my heroes too. In fact... I love my borderline heroes more than the pure and simple ones. ^_^

    Kari, that is a good point. The hero chose to be good, or at least chose not to be evil. Either way, they shouldn't look like they regret their decision, because part of me gets to wondering why he/she didn't just hop over to the dark side, then.

    Kevin, I'm glad to see I brought the point across. Villains like that makes me identify with them as well. Which is why it's vital to me that the hero has more or less the same attitude. :-)

  31. I think the most interesting stories are the ones where the villain has a little good in him, and the hero a little evil. Of course, it's still more fun to write for the villain (a.k.a. the hero for the morally flexible).

    Now, if you don't mind, I have to get back to work on my Spine Extractor. Just needs some plutonium and a couple more knives...

  32. Lol Nate. Take lots of pictures. B-,


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