Is my Villain likeable?

Is my Villain likeable?

Now that must sound weird. We don’t want the readers to like the villain, do we? Yes, yes you do. Just not in the way you like the hero.

You love the hero for their effort, courage, and persistance.

You love the villain for their beliefs, determination, and (ahem) darkness. Yes, I said it. Darkness. Why? Because we all have darkness within us. Then again, villains are known to have the qualities of the hero and hero the qualities of the villain.

However, we’re not here to dicuss qualities. We here to know if your villain is likeable. Villains are the people you can sympathize with or people you just love to hate. Which ever one it is, you like them. If you didn’t then they are missing something.

Let us begin with sympathy

Most cases, a villain isn’t just some evil person running around making a muck. Something led to these actions. To explain this, I’m going to use Light from Death Note because I feel like he fits into both categories quite well, also as a point that the villain doesn’t have to be the antoganist. (Warning: SPOILERS BELOW)

In that first moment we meet Light, we can sympathize with him. We have all seen the news and have all thought what if there was a better justice system out there. When he finds that book, he used it to help the good people. He believed he found a better justice system.

A villain should have a quality that makes his actions understandable, not reedemable, but understandable. It has to be something that many people can relate to.

Love to hate

Of course, we have our characters that we love to hate. I’m looking at you Joker. As I said before though, we’ll stick to Light here. After you sympathize with Light, you start to hate him. Why?

Well, let’s start off when he starts killing the innocent. The moment when he so desperately tries to kill (decoy)L in the beginning. Then Raye Penber, the FBI agents, Naomi, and L. L was the final straw. After him, you wanted to burn Light alive. 

But, that’s okay. We hate him with every ounce of our gut and we enjoy every minute of it. As I said, you have to understand, but that doesn’t mean your villain is redemable. Light Yagami was miles from being redeemable. A villains actions can be unforgivable. (Why else have a villain?) 

So, when your writing ask youself:

Will people understand my villain?

What will his or her actions make the reader feel?

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