How to Develop Your Story’s Villain

What if your villain was your story’s protagonist?

This is the question my super-amazing screenwriting friend Erik Martinez asked me over Skype last week and it exploded my brain. I was struggling with my YA Fantasy work-in-progress THE NEVERS. I knew I hadn’t developed my villain the way I needed to. I knew I was sitting back on my laurels and letting my bad guy simply be “evil.” And THAT attitude toward my antagonist is exactly what was holding up my writing progress.

Because evil isn’t black and white.

Evil comes from a character who believes he’s doing what is right. And my brain exploded with ideas when my friend Erik told me to think about my villain as the HERO of the story! What motivates my villain? What does he believe? Why does he believe it matters and is worth all the sacrifices and dark deeds he must do?

I was struggling to connect with my villain because I’d stopped seeing him as a real human being. I let him become an archetype, an idea. I’d let him fall into the stereotypical concept of “the monster.” However, the moment I started to think about him as a real life human being with flaws and dreams and – get this – a heart…


This week’s video is all about how I hit the wall with my WIP and the five pieces of advice Erik gave me on how to develop my villain. I spent memorial weekend journaling about these topics and BAM! I’m off to the races again … typing away!

Five ways to develop your story’s villain:

If you have techniques and advice on how to develop your story’s antagonist, please share them in the comments!

Happy writing everyone!

One response to “How to Develop Your Story’s Villain”

  1. Kelly Dyksterhouse says:

    Ingrid, I’m so thankful for this post. Thinking of my villain as the protagonist for even just 2 minutes has opened a whole bunch of doors. Thank you!!

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