Tragic Villain - Portraying and Employing Villains in Fiction

Portraying and Employing Villains in Fiction

Tod Slaughter always portrayed villainous characters on both stage and screen in a melodramatic manner, with mustache-twirling, eye-rolling, leering, cackling, and hand-rubbing (however, this often failed to translate well from stage to screen). Brad Warner states that "only cartoon villains cackle with glee while rubbing their hands together and dream of ruling the world in the name of all that is wicked and bad". Ben Bova recommends to authors that their works not contain villains. He states, in his Tips for writers:

"In the real world there are no villains. No one actually sets out to do evil... Fiction mirrors life. Or, more accurately, fiction serves as a lens to focus of what they know in life and bring its realities into sharper, clearer understanding for us. There are no villains cackling and rubbing their hands in glee as they contemplate their evil deeds. There are only people with problems, struggling to solve them."

David Lubar adds:

"This is a brilliant observation that has served me well in all my writing. (The bad guy isn't doing bad stuff so he can rub his hands together and snarl.) He may be driven by greed, neuroses, or the conviction that his cause is just, but he's driven by something not unlike the things that drive a hero."

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