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It is odd how revelations in my writing journey happen when I am driving to work. I mean it, I do not turn the radio on so I can just think through my projects, both the short story and the novel. Some days my mind just wonders and some days I am back to real-life matters that need sorting out.

Recently while turning a corner to get on the highway, a time I really should be concentrating on the incredible number of cars who are also daydreaming on their way to work, I had what I call the A-HA moment. What makes my villain a villain? Yes, he is bad by his actions, but what makes him do those terrible things? What makes the bad guy bad?

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My first answer was, very innocently, because he has to or my story does not work? Okay, stop laughing.

My second thought, taking much more time to come to me, is my villain wants to maintain power. Sounds reasonable on the surface, but is it enough? This question caused me some distress. I had not thought about my villain in terms of what drives him any more than his desire to do the exact opposite of what my hero wants.

I realized in this moment that bad guys, villains, are characters to. They need the same care in their creation as our hero. They have backstories, they have families, they have desires which contradict our hero, obviously, and ultimately, they are villainous due to their actions and desires which brought them into the story to begin with. Yes, the story has no conflict without villains, but does that make them bad.

Now here comes the A-HA, bad guys are not bad. Villains are called villains so we can feel good about what the hero has to accomplish to win the day. As the creator of my character, I need to love my villain as much as I love my hero. I need to spend as much time shaping him and raising him, and then I need to hurt him and torture him until his desires are exactly what I want them to be; in opposition to my hero.

I do not want this character to be pitied, not in this story. There is no redemption for this character, and I do not want anyone searching my story for that possibility of redemption, but there certainly needs to be a reason for his actions, and he has to be human. He has to have a hidden flaw which can be exploited, he has to have some weakness which allows my hero a window of opportunity, and he has to be beatable. Most importantly, my villian's character has to be as strong in his belief that what he is doing is right as my hero's belief is that he must be stopped.

When it comes right down to it bad guys are bad for only one reason, they are in opposition to the hero. Therefore, they deserve the same care in their creation as any other character; and in some cases more.

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