October conjures up thoughts of Halloween candy, ghosts, goblins, and all things scary. And that has me thinking about the villains in my three work-in-progress manuscripts and three published novels. Here’s what they have in common:
Gender—I seem to believe in equal opportunity when it comes to villains. Females are the primary villains in half of my books/manuscripts. Gender may influence how they go about achieving their goals, but the evil women and men share many of the same personality traits.
Appearance—None of my “major” villains look scary. In fact, they tend to be attractive if not downright handsome/beautiful. Their good looks provide a mask for their frightening personalities and evil intentions. I have allowed myself to have some fun with their villainous sidekicks/henchmen, making their outward appearances flawed and frightening.
Personality Traits—Whether male or female, my villains seem to share certain personality traits. They are arrogant, greedy, self-centered, determined, smart, and ruthless.
Motives/Goals—I’ve worked hard to ensure my villains all consider themselves heroes/heroines of their own stories. They have reasons for doing what they do. Of course those reasons may not be rationale or socially acceptable but they’re valid in their minds. Their motives include power, money, promoting an idea/ideology, revenge, lust, and love. That last one “love” may prompt them to do unspeakable things to anyone they perceive as harming their loved ones.
Chilling Villains from Novels/Movies—
Here are some of my nominees for chilling villains that have haunted me long after I read the book or saw the movie.
Annie Wilkes, Misery
Dr. Christian Szell,
Eleanor Iselin, The Manchurian Candidate
Nurse Ratched, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Norman Bates, Psycho
Practically the entire cast of Gone Girl
What villain gives you the biggest chills?