A great villain could be one of the most difficult characters to develop while at the same time remaining one of the most important for an epic style sci-fi romance novel. A well-developed villain intensifies the magnet of the conflict in a story. And let’s face it, a diabolical, sinister villain is a heck of a fun character to create.
Conversely, a story with a poorly developed villain on the other hand, stands the risk of having its plot fall flat.
If you are planning an epic novel based on sci-fi romance or other types of romance, what traits do you infuse into your villain to ensure that he/she holds your reader spell bound, thereby making the time spent reading your book worth the while? Several traits go into making a great epic villain. Here are just five of them.
- Enormous Power
Great villains are enormously powerful characters. They have a way of making things happen as they want them to (think the Zaatelians in J.L Hendricks ‘worlds away.’). In some instances, the villain’s power lies in some kind of magic. In other cases, it lies in the great wealth and influence possessed. In other instances, the villains possess a set of cunning skills that may be less obvious but nonetheless more dangerous than raw power.
In Dark Awakening, Brady Hawkins’ power comes from his vast sphere of influence and the power instilled in him through the New World Order. He stops at nothing to remind those under him that he is top dog and calling all the shots. Despite this, Hawkins recognizes that his power is not his alone; his power comes from his rank. As such, he seeks not only to rise to the highest degree of power, but is sadistically bent on stripping any who would possess magic (power that clearly trumps his rank).
A true villain is vicious, don’t you agree? In fact, this is what makes him a great villain. Although they often admit to a set of moral codes, villains are ever ready to break the rules just to get their desires. Great epic villains believe so much in the good of their cause that they begin to view normal standards of moral codes as beneath their personalities.
Brady Hawkins plays by a different set of rules. While the New World Order is bent on stripping the gifted of their power, Hawkins sees the harnessing of that magic as the one thing that would set him apart and allow him to rise in authority; despite the fact that this desire of his contradicts the Order’s rule. And, he will sadistically and cruelly go about getting it.
There’s a thin line between the great villains and the small bad boys and that is, the willingness to go all out and achieve their goals. No matter the circumstances, he or she never dares to give up. The moment a great villain sets his sights on a prize, nothing, except annihilation or death will stop him from getting it.
Caitriona Sinclair is the prize Brady Hawkins is after, if only for the simple pleasure of being able to claim her as his own. While there is a certain amount of perverseness that comes with Hawkins, it isn’t what drives his actions when it comes to Caitriona. Hawkins is ruthless and calculating. He sees Caitriona as the means to an end; as the prize against his private war with Duncan MacKinnon, leader of the Knights Templar.
In Dark Gathering, the sequel to Dark Awakening, Hawkins’ resolution at capturing Caitriona and stripping her of her power is such a central theme that the word ‘prize’ is used eight times in the manuscript!
Now, don’t we all love an intelligent villain? We love that villain who is always two steps ahead in the battle of wits between the hero and himself. He isn’t above mistakes. He just does not make the obvious ones. A Great villain is a real challenge for the hero any day, anytime.
As a writer, take care that you don’t create a villain so drunk with ambition that he makes very stupid and dumb moves. While such a villain may make for an entertaining character, he or she may not have what it takes to keep your reader hooked.
This is what I love most about Dark Awakening’s villain, Brady Hawkins – he is cunning and he is calculating; surgical in his military strategy that always seems to put him one step ahead of Caitriona and Duncan. But, my two heroes are not to be outdone, they have the one weapon Hawkins has yet to acquire…
The villains that stick with us long after the story has ended are those with some form of physical, emotional or psychological wound. An emotional or psychological wound mirrors the fact that no person is born with a monstrous nature. People become monsters because of an abuse or injury inflicted upon them. Even if a writer does not go into details about that tragic episode, he/ she may often hint at it from time to time.
Brady Hawkins is reminded nearly daily of his genetic imperfection from the Order’s quest to achieve a perfectly balanced and intelligent society. While he started out as a genetically engineered perfect human, an accident left him physically impaired, thus leaving him as damaged goods in the eyes of the Order. It’s this physical—and emotional scar— that pushes him to prove his superiority.
So now you have it. When developing the character of a villain in an epic sci-fi romance novel or other kinds of romance novels, remember that when put together, these traits produce the kind of villain that will keep your readers yearning for more action and suspense.
Who is your favorite romantic sci-fi villain and why? Drop me a line in the comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!