The fantasy villain in children’s fiction

Sauron. Lord Voldemort. Need I say more?

Every great hero needs a truly evil villain. Without them there’s no danger, nothing to lose, nothing to gain and no conflict the hero must overcome. Your story falls flat and your hero remains the slightly nerdy kid no one believes will amount to much. 

The iconic fight between good and evil will always be a winner and in children’s literature the fantasy villain can take many forms:

  • The one who moves in the shadows and has a hoard of minions to do his bidding. This villain is the ultimate evil overlord and only when his underlings have fallen will he step up for the ultimate showdown.
  • The one who will do whatever it takes to solve a problem, no matter who he has to trample to do it. This villain is ruthless and selfish and they want what they want, even if they have to kill to get it.
  • The one who blames the hero and will stop at nothing to exact his revenge. A simple for of this type of villain is the bully.
  • The one with abilities and strengths to rival those of his counterpart, with whom his fate is intertwined.
  • The one who seeks to destroy everything, no matter the cost – which is immense.
  • The one who was once a trusted friend, but turned to the dark side at some point and betrayed their friends. Some start off that way, tricking the good guys into believing they are one of them, when all the while they were working for the other side. Others lose faith and turn to the side they believe will succeed in the end. A final type is forced to betray their friends under threat of violence towards themselves of their loved ones.
  • The one who knows the world would be a better place if only everyone would do as he says. This one is often driven by a fanatic belief in religion, extreme ideology or some other kind of twisted morals. He’s not doing what he does for any personal gain – no, it’s for the greater good!

In some books you will find one single villain, perhaps with a mix of the villainous characteristics outlined above. In other books there will be multiple villains, some more benign than others. Whatever villain you chose though, make sure it’s a good one! Give him as much personality and tics / traits and habits as the hero and take the time to figure out the motivation behind his actions. Why has he become who he is and why is he out to destroy the hero and everything he stands for? By giving your villain a purpose and a reason for doing what he does, you will lift your villain from a two dimensional bad guy to a truly epic villain your readers will love to hate!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: