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Bad to the Bone Villains Make Your Heroes Hurt

Bad to the Bone Villains Make Your Heroes Hurt

“Bad to the Bone Villains Make Your Heroes Hurt” by Joan Y. Edwards

It’s amazing how many stories are even better in our minds because of the villain in each of them. A villain is the main antagonist who deliberately sets out to cause harm or stop the hero from achieving his goal. These villains seem to be bad to the bone. They make your heroes hurt. This tension makes an intriguing story.  Each evil step the villain takes to stop the main character must add a difficult challenge for your protagonist.

Imagine Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs without Queen Grimhilde the Evil Queen. It would leave the story boring and without the big life/death problem for Snow White.

Annika Griffith explains that the villain is a character type, and the antagonist is a plot role.

Zara Altair says to make sure your villain has one or more of the following characteristics:

  • He or she is worthy enough to make your protagonist look good.
  • His or her skills match or exceed your protagonist’s.
  • He/she believes he/she is doing the right thing.
  • He/she has characteristics that match your protagonist’s, but they are misguided.

It’s a good idea to give your villain redeeming characteristics. Make them good in one area that would surprise readers because of his easily recognized flaws.

Think of the following antagonists. These are some of my favorite antagonists to hate. Are they all the main antagonists in the stories? Are they villains in your eyes?

  1. Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
  2. Lady Tremaine from Cinderella.
  3. Ursula in Little Mermaid
  4. Jafar in Aladdin
  5. Juror #3 in 12 Angry Men was the antagonist. He was played by the late Lee J. Cobb.
  6. Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest
  7. Count Dracula in  Dracula
  8. Goldfinger in Goldfinger
  9. The Glee TV Series without Sue Sylvester wouldn’t be as intriguing to watch. She keeps you wondering what awful thing she’s going to do next to upset the apple cart plans of the heroes and heroines. I must admit that sometimes she was so evil, I stopped watching the show.
  10. In Murder Mysteries, like TV Shows Matlock, Columbo, and Monk, the antagonist is the murderer.

The antagonist is the person or thing n who gets in the way of the hero or heroine in the pursuit of his goal.

Sometimes, a character’s opponent is nothing tangible. It may be abstract, such as an internal struggle, a difficult situation in life, weather, or other things.

Gabriela Pereira says villains are not usually all-bad, they’re just misunderstood.

From what I’ve read, the villain intentionally sets out to stop the protagonist from reaching his goal. Other antagonists may stop him, but that wasn’t their primary goal.

On Pro-Writing Aid, Zara Altair says an antagonist’s role is to cause trouble for the protagonist. There may be more than one antagonist in a story.  Each antagonist throws daggers to create problems for the main character which adds tension to the story. Antagonists test the strengths and show up weaknesses that your main character has to overcome to reach his goal.

Antagonist  Possibilities
1. Another Character –
A friend that betrays the protagonist, a villain who sets out on purpose to stop the protagonist. Other antagonists may be characters who stop the protagonist from reaching his goal, but that was not their main purpose.
2. Features of the Natural, Physical, Material World 
3. Culture/Society/Authority. The antagonist uses or abuses rules of society, authority, rules, or traditions to stop protagonist from being successful in reaching her goal.
4. Technology/Information/Networks/Sensors/Internet/Transport/
Energy/Agriculture/Architecture/Entertainment & Media/Arts & Music/Appliances/Industrial Machines/Clothing & Accessories/Medical/Assistive/Science/Space/Robotics/Artificial Intelligence/Superintelligence/
5. Supernatural Forces/superpower interaction/vision faculty, mentality-based powers  Belief in and practice of magic, spiritual, religious, medicinal  healing
6. Self – self-defeating, undervaluing behavior, lack of skills, lack of information, lack of self-control, fatal flaw.  The main character’s inner nature of what they usually do can create havoc to keep from reaching his goal.

My favorite villain/antagonists make me cringe and fearful for what they might do to the protagonist. Villains help make the stories unforgettable and fill you with fear for the hero. That’s the kind of story that’s hard to put down when you turn the pages. If it’s a movie, you want to see it to the very end. You expect surprise obstacles and known obstacles for your protagonist and they appear.


Gabriela Pereira.  “Villains vs Antagonists:” https://diymfa.com/writing/villains-vs-antagonists

Zara Altar. “Villain vs Antagonist: How to Use Each in Your Book”

Now Novel. “Types of Antagonists: Creating Riveting Opponents”

 I hope this helped you understand that all antagonists are not villains. A villain is a special breed of antagonist who sets out intentionally to stop the protagonist from reaching his goal. A story can have many antagonists. Usually, there is only one main villain. 

Please leave a comment. Let me know what you believe makes a great antagonist. What makes an outstanding villain? Talk about your favorite antagonist or villain and why you like him or dislike him.

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2009-2020 Joan Y. Edwards

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What Is a First Page?

“What Is a First Page?” by Joan Y. Edwards

The first page is not to be mixed up with the Title Page, Copyright page, or Dedication page.

What is a first page?

  • A first page is the magnet that brings a reader in.
  • It’s the hook that brings your reader into your story and keeps him there.
  • It’s the grabber that yanks him with words and emotion so strong that he can’t set himself free, until the problem is solved at the end of the book.
  • It’s the trap that holds readers inside the pages of the book.
  • It’s the enticement to stay a little longer in this make-believe world
  • It sells the rest of your manuscript

At the most, depending upon the genre, a first page double-spaced could be 250 words.

What does the First Page Do?

What makes a great first page? It tells who, what, when, where, and why should I care? Hmm. You say. That sounds like the same thing that should be in a pitch. Yes. You’re right.  I venture to say that each page in a book should contain something about leading up to the solution of the problem or the making it worse.

A first page hints of the dilemma facing the main character.
Tells the inner and outer conflict of the main character.
Tells the setting. A sense of place – are you in the air, on the ground.
Tells the time. When you read it, you know by the first page whether it is 100 years ago or sometime in the same century as you. A sense of time of day or night.
Why should the reader care? It pulls you in with emotions that a reader can identify with.

Just for comparison and enlightenment: Let’s look at the first pages of three of your favorite top-selling books in the genre you have chosen to write in.

You get your books in front of you or go to the Amazon link to its first page.

What must a first page have? A main character, setting, time, goal, and obstacle/opposing force/villain.

Wait. That’s not all. On this first page you must also give emotional pull on the reader that shows him why he should care.

Look at 3 first pages. Have the books open to the first page or click on Amazon where they show you the first page of this best-selling book.

Print out the first page of the manuscript you’re ready to send off to a critique group, editor, or agent.

Look at the first page of the story  in Chapter One. Look for the things a first page has:

  • Main character
  • Setting
  • Time
  • Goal
  • Obstacle
  • Emotional pull (Why Should I Care? Universal Emotion)

Chances are they’ve given you hints of the major problem in the story. What’s at stake for the main character? Life? Death? Success? Fame? Fortune?

Does your first page have Pizzazz? Raise curiosity in the reader?

Can your readers relate to the main character? Feel for him? Cheer for him? Be scared with him? Cry with him?

If your manuscript lacks this emotional tug at the heartstrings of your reader, add it. When an agent or editor can’t get your character out of their heads is when you have them, hook, line, and sinker!

Good luck with your publishing dreams. Keep unwavering faith in you and your stories.

Thank you for reading my blog. I hope it inspires you.

Never Give Up!
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2012 Joan Y. Edwards