How to make a good villain

Question: I have my story and know pretty much everything, I just feel like my villain is missing something. The villain has a connection to the other characters and he even used to be good. He also doesn't see what he's doing as wrong or even if he knows it's wrong he thinks the outcome will be worth it. My main character is an anti hero and she's very similar to him. She completely agrees with him accept for the fact that she knows what he's doing will only make things worse. I have his personality down but the problem I'm running into is his motive. Right now he seems like the bad guy just because and any motive I come up with seems weak. How do you find a good villain motive or what makes a good motive?


Answer: There are various reasons people do terrible things in life, but I think most of them boil down to a few main reasons.

1. Ego

People who don't feel the world gives them the status and power they deserve are prime candidates for antisocial or villainous behaviour.

People with huge ambition (a desire for status) often make good villains, because their ambition can be more important than relationships or morality.

2. Fear

People who are insecure (socially, financially, physically, etc.),
or grew up feeling insecure, and are not very bright tend to be hypersensitive to threat. Small threats seem huge to them, and they see threats everywhere. They have a strong urge to stamp out anyone who seems threatening.

Someone with an ego problem who is also hypersensitive to threat makes a great villain.

3. Delusions

All human beings entertain delusions. We try to understand life and the world and we often get it wrong. Our faulty thinking leads us to wrong conclusions, and then we get attached to our delusions because we feel they help us understand the world (even though they are wrong). Then we act on our delusions rather than correcting them.

Combine all three of these and you have a formula for a really dangerous person. But there is one final element to consider...

4. Lack of compassion

Many antisocial people are sociopaths or psychopaths -- people who lack compassion for other human beings. This makes it easy for them to hurt other people in the service of the other three traits mentioned above and feel no remorse for their actions.

Of course, the challenge for you is to get inside the head of your villain to see how some or all of these elements play out in his or her particular situation and background.

Best of luck.

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