What is often the one character that everybody hates, yet secretly admires? That's right, it's the villain. To be honest, there are so many different ways to write a villain that for some writers, they may be some of the easiest and most fun characters to write. Most villains are driven by two major things: Power, wealth or a combination of both. Is this bad for a villain? Absolutely not. In fact, the more wicked the villain's desire, the better the villain is.
Take Scar from the Lion King for example. Easily one of - if not THE most noticeable villain Disney has created. What was his cause of being evil? Jealousy of his older brother and nephew. He wanted to be king, but he was pretty much given the boot once Simba was born. He allies himself with a bunch of Hyenas who help him claim power under the promise they'd never go hungry again. Well, I'm sure pretty much anyone reading this known how the story of the Lion King goes.
I've had a few people come to me asking what they thought of their villains and their ideas, but they seemed like they were holding something back so they wouldn't "offend" anyone. Here's the thing. The villain shouldn't give two crappy diapers about who he or she offends. That's something for the hero to worry about...if the story even has a hero, anti-heroes are becoming fairly popular these days.
If you want an example of a decent villain, you're not likely to find it in Naruto with the exception of maybe Orochimaru. The guy is just hands down creepy, uses his followers as his own puppets, and his main desire is to live forever and learn every jutsu ever created. These are arguably very standard but very effective things for a villain. Now, you as the writer do not need to write a back story on every villain on how they got to be that way, and try to make the reader feel sorry for them. That's okay with maybe one or two lesser villains, but a guy who's hell bent of ruling the world with an iron fist and killing anyone who gets in his way? They don't need a sob story. In fact, it's better to just let the reader come up with their own ideas on how they got to be like that...if they even bother.
Take Souron from Lord of the Rings as another example. The guy who becomes the giant fire ball eye in the sky. What was his purpose for being evil? We don't have a clue. All we know is that he's a dark lord son of a b*tch that holds a grudge against everyone, and wants all the other races dead.... no real back story, but he's a frighting villain that everyone fears. I guess he went all in with a straight flush while the other guy had a Royal Flush. It's reason enough to make anyone hold a grudge, right?
If you want your villain to be feared by the characters and your readers, don't even bother giving them a back story. Just give enough information that the reader knows that the villain only wants to kill, destroy, rape, pillage, and burn anything that gets in his way in his quest for power. There are few things more frighting than a powerful enemy you know nothing about.
Edited by Dalton.T.R, 30 June 2016 - 02:22 AM.