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  • Annette Austin


Often, this is a section of writing some authors really struggle with - how to write a villain. In many novels, the common scenario is a valiant hero and a malevolent villain. Someone who the readers can throw an imaginary cabbage at in their minds. As a child, I tended to root for the nasty guys in films or television programmes, not because my mind is unbelievably bizarre, but I always found them for the most part to be infinitely more interesting than the hero. In this blog post, I'll give some tips as to how to write a villain, using a creation of mine in the first novel I wrote, Preston Carmichael in The Fall of the House of James, as a guide.

1. Don’t Give Too Much Info

This is a trap that some new authors fall into, wanting to make their villain so interesting that they overload the reader with needless information such as where the bad guy went to school, who their best friends are, etc. The best villains are the ones who, over time, start to show their true character, similar to how human beings act. Start by dripping the reader some data about the hero’s nemesis, not a lot.

In The Fall of the House of James, the character of Preston Carmichael initially appears at the Havers End plantation to interview for the position of chief overseer at the plantation. During this discussion, he passes an observation to the owner of Havers End, Edward James, while holding a glass figurine -

‘This is pretty nice furniture you have, Mr. James.’

Then, he goes on to say - ‘We don’t have such nice furniture in Charleston.’

Is Preston in admiration of Edward because of his riches or is he actually mocking the head of the James Empire? By instilling a couple of short sentences, I've begun to build the writing blocks as to what type of poisonous character Preston might be.

2. Use Language To Progress The Character

When developing your nemesis, think about what language he will use. Will the pretence be one of obedience, but in a clandestine way, he plots to overthrow the hero? Is he a cultured person or someone incapable of speaking without profanity? Does he use words filled with sophistication or is his language coarse in nature? While researching The Fall of the House of James, I found out that most chief overseers used derogatory terms in order to instil fear in the slaves they controlled. In Preston's case, he uses foul and abusive language so the slaves will be more compliant.

When one of the slaves, Jasmine Thomas, is late for work, Preston forces her to undress in front of him. After putting her through a belittling examination, he declares -

‘God put all the bumps in all the right places.’

Then Preston chuckles. Knowing he has humiliated Jasmine, he simply doesn’t care. Slowly, the reader is becoming aware of what character they are dealing with.

3. Make Your Villain Memorable

There are many ways to make your villain a memorable character. Perhaps, he walks or talks in a certain way. Maybe, he has a catchphrase. Or maybe he has a distinctive dress sense. Whatever it is, you should try to incorporate something which will make him stand out. In The Fall of the House of James, Preston announces himself by saying -

‘Well now, howdy.’

It signifies his presence and it also tells the characters involved that the main villain is now in their vicinity.

How To Write A Villain, Part 2 – Preston Carmichael, will be available shortly.

Annette Austin is a self-published author of five novels in the acclaimed The James Saga series, ‘The Fall of the House of James,’ ‘Always A Slave,’ ‘A Slave’s Vow,’ ‘Betrayal of Love’ and ‘Between Love and War.’ She has also written a prequel to The James Saga, ‘All That Time Allows.’ Her first novel spent some time at the Number 1 spot on Amazon (History of Antebellum U.S. Chart.) All five of the books in The James Saga have garnered five-star reviews on Amazon.

If you liked this blog post, please share it on social media, email me at or join me on Twitter at Annette Austin@Annettte91329398 with your thoughts.

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