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Crafting Believable Villains: 52 Questions to Ask

The Rich Writer: Crafting Believable Villains: 52 Questions to Ask

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Monday, April 18, 2011

Crafting Believable Villains: 52 Questions to Ask

If you read much writing advice, you probably know that villains are supposed to be believable, well-rounded , and not necessarily evil. (And if you haven’t read that writing advice, now you know.) But how do you go about creating such a believable-yet-villainous character? Plunking a black hat on your bad guy is oh-so-much easier!

When in doubt, I like to start by asking questions—so I figured I’d share :). Don’t feel the need to answer them all; instead, ask and see which evoke answers that surprise or inspire. Happy writing!

52 Questions to Ask Your Villain

  1. Where did you grow up?
  2. Who took care of you?
  3. When you were a child, who did you love?
  4. Who acted as mentor?
  5. Who did you trust?
  6. Who betrayed your trust?
  7. Who hurt you? How?
  8. Did you seek vengeance or are you still trying to please them?
  9. Is there anyone in your life who you currently trust?
  10. Is there anyone who you currently love?
  11. Is there anyone who you currently need? How do you feel about this need?
  12. Do you have any friends? A lover?
  13. Who do you desire to protect?
  14. Who is your greatest hero?
  15. Who is your nemesis?
  16. Do you have a pet? What kind?
  17. Do you have a hobby? What do you do in your spare time for enjoyment?
  18. What do you love?
  19. What do you hate more than anything?
  20. What do you fear more than anything?
  21. What makes you angry?
  22. What are you ashamed of doing?
  23. What are you ashamed of being?
  24. Is there something in your life that irritates you daily?
  25. Is there something that you can’t forget?
  26. What do you want more than anything?
  27. What are you willing to do to get it? Hurt someone? Lie? Steal? Kill?
  28. What would you die to protect?
  29. What would you murder to gain?
  30. From whom do you hide your actions?
  31. What do you hide from yourself?
  32. What dream makes you wake in a cold sweat?
  33. What dream brings you peace?
  34. How are you admirable?
  35. Do you believe what you’re doing is right?
  36. Do you believe the world owes you?
  37. Do you believe the world is out to get you?
  38. Do you want to pay someone back for hurting you?
  39. What do you deserve?
  40. What do you need?
  41. If you can’t get what you want, will you despair?
  42. If you can’t get what you want, will you attack?
  43. When angry, do you fly into a rage? Or do you simmer in silence until the time’s ripe for vengeance?
  44. What emotional need drives you? The need for love? Respect? Success? Domination? Safety? Belonging? Self-esteem?
  45. Do you respect yourself?
  46. If your home was destroyed and you could save only one thing, what would it be?
  47. What is a ritual you engage in daily?
  48. What goals do you pursue?
  49. How are you like your nemesis/the main character?
  50. How are you different?
  51. How do you admire him?
  52. What do you despise about him? Or do you care about him at all—perhaps he’s simply in your way?

Photo courtesy of dariuszka on Flickr Creative Commons

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