About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V is for VILLAIN

*Shelley clears throat—hums loudly*  


Tonight’s letter gave me the perfect opportunity to do that—V is for Villain.

One would think that a villain would be an easy topic, but I found that it really brushes up against our last letter, the Usual suspects. 

In a majority of fiction today, the villain is one dimensional.  He’s bad to the literal bone.  Which makes sense because he is the bad guy, but like secondary characters, there are archetypes to the baddies.  

These outlines make for strong villains, they play the role rightI mean, if you can’t be good, heartless is the way to go, however in the genre I write--Romance--the villains need not always be so mean.  In the last novel I wrote, I took a different tack with my villain, and in turn, got a lot of feedback.  Going into it I thought of the bad guy as a real person, and I asked, “What would make this character do this despicable thing to the heroine?” 

In the story, the baddie is an ex-fiancé who technically leaves the heroine at the altar on their wedding day.  This should make him an unforgivable @#$&*!, right?

But I wanted to pull on the heartstrings of the reader a little bit, so I gave the ex a reason for doing what he did.  Yes, I gave the jerk enough “likeableness” for the reader to be conflicted over his motives.  In the end he still does the evil deed, but you can sort of understand why.

This is a fantastic counterpart to have in your story.  The reader wants to connect to the villain but can’t because the badness gets in the way.  This technique has been used in breakout fiction quite a lot in recent years—Severus Snape has one of the biggest frickin’ fan clubs I’ve ever seen.  

When the reader can relate to the villain—just a little bit—then the drama begins.  The bad guy isn’t merely a dark soul, he's a lost one.  

 It’s important to keep the balance, the villain has to remain parallel to the hero, but a touch of concern makes the reader really consider your bad guy, rather than simply write them off in the beginning.  That makes for great tension.  You want your reader to be torn, to scream, 
               “I want to like you, why must you be so bad?!”

Then your bad guy can tip his black hat and reply, 
         “’Cause I’m the villain. Muahahaha.”   ;0)

Only four more letters to go! 

Please come back tomorrow—W is for WORD CHOICE.



  1. Hi Shelley,
    I always wondered how to spell MUHAHAHAHA. LOL.I really enjoyed your V post on villians. I love villian who are not just bad, crazy phychopaths, but your everyday Joe who make really bad choices- one after another- which causes them to cross the line. They make great bad guys because they're still scary and the reader can actually see a part of themself in the villian.

    1. Hi Nancy!

      Sorry to pull the FB post - I really did spell Muahaha wrong, if you can believe. *laugh-snort* I'm glad you enjoyed - I whole-heart agree. The everyday Joe can be a great villain when left wayward. Those kind of characters are actually a little scarier in a way.

      Thank you so much for checking out my blog.

      Shelley :0)

  2. Stopping by via A to Z. Great villain post!

    1. Hi, Jenny-Welcome and cute avi!

      Thanks for checking out CN!

      Shelley :0)

  3. Great example using Star Wars! Even though George Lucas can't write dialogue to save his life, he creates some memorable and fleshed-out characters.

    1. Hey Lady!

      Thanks, I've been trying to cut down on the movie references, but you can't talk villains without Darth Vader popping up somewhere.

      Thanks for checking in! :0)