Does EVERY Story need a Villain?

Reality Coaching for Writers — Does every good story need a villain or antagonist? In this episode of Reality Coaching for Writers with Eddie and Diana discuss why we need villains and what characteristics a good villain must have. It is the struggle against the forces of unfairness and injustice that helps a hero/ protagonist grow and change.

Does EVERY Story need a Villain?

There are four ways to introduce a villain’s POV:
Personal demons
Present environment


Predisposition is the auto-mechanism that guides your character at the start of her journey. Her habits, manner of dress, quirks, and social interaction shape her in a way that is uniquely suited for her role in your story. Study her. Watch the way her hands swing when she walks, the shift in her eyes when confronted by her boss, and the way she twirls her hair whenever he walks in the room. Identify these traits and show them to the reader.

Temperament is a person’s manner of behaving, thinking, and reacting to others and circumstances. Temperament reveals itself best during stressful events, so after you define your character’s basic temperament, then turn up the heat and burn away the dross, the impurities. Allow the reader to watch her change during the story.

Past Pointers

How was your character raised? What events shaped her? Dig into her past and reveal in small bites. Each element should reinforce why she acts, thinks, and feels the way she does. Often one defining moment in her past is enough. Be selective, show her wounds, allow readers to touch her scar. Then ask:

  • With what has she struggled? A physical affliction? Emotional wound?
  • What has she discovered about herself?
  • How has she changed over the years?

Personal Demons

Internal conflict is the energy of your character. Imagine an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, each whispering into your Lead’s ear. Allow the reader to see this internal struggle as your Lead weighs the consequences of her actions. It is here in the moral struggle between good and evil that your character will grow or shrink. Every character must go through an internal transformation. External struggles are problems that need to be solved.

Internal struggles are questions that need to be answered. As your character solves the external problem, she gains insight into how to answer the inner questions. To create a story with depth, get to know what she wants. Then reveal her motives by showing how she:

  • Interacts with other characters
  • Responds to events in the story
  • Pursues her objective

Present Environment

It’s not the “what” that’s important but the “why.” Reveal her internal motivation for the way she dresses, talks, and acts. Your job is to help the reader grasp the desires, motives, beliefs, attitudes, dreams, and frustrations of your characters. Subtlety is key. Err on the side of understatement. The more you tell readers how to feel, the less they will. Show emotion through action, dialogue, and body language. The more personal the struggle and impending danger, the more suspenseful the story.

Building Your Satan

Does every story need a villain? Yes and for your bad girl to be likable, she should have at least one of these qualities and the more she exhibits it, the greater the tension between your protagonist and antagonist. We want to pull for the bad girl because often we see our faults in others. We just don’t want them to win.

Eddie Jones and Diana Flegal offer personalized coaching for writers. For more information, check out
#writercommunity #writer #RealityCoachingforWriters #characterdevelopment