Make your villain genuinely evil

With thanks to my talented wife, who not only had this idea first, but executed it better.

Lord Plunderfall threw his head back and laughed.
‘Bwa ha ha ha! Your attempts to escape only serve to amuse me.’ He waved a hand towards the children and armed guards emerged from the shadows.
‘Why are you doing this?’ said Freddie.
‘Why?’ said Lord Plunderfall. ‘You ask me why? Well, the answer is quite simple. I seek to destroy the entire world because I am pure evil and wish nothing more than the death of all humanity. Bwa ha h...’
‘Really?’ interrupted Bertha. ‘That’s it? Because that seems a bit improbable.’
‘Improbable?’ thundered the dark figure uncertainly.
‘Yes,’ said Freddie. ‘It’s not all that convincing as a motive. I mean, if you destroy the entire world, where will you live?’
‘I...’ Plunderfall hesitated. ‘Never you mind. I am a force of pure malignancy and I shall tear apart the very...’
‘And if you kill everyone in the world,’ said Bertha, ‘where will you get your food from? Are you going to run your own farm? Is having a smallhold part of your masterplan?’
‘I don’t...’ He seemed to be sweating under his metal mask. ‘That is...’ Freddie shrugged.
‘It just doesn’t seem like you’ve thought it through, you know?’
‘Exactly,’ said Bertha. ‘And I’m sure there’s a more practical material you could have made that mask out of. I imagine the metal edges really chafe.’

22 comments:

  1. Baddies must always have a plan B. :-)
    x

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  2. Love, love, love, love this one. So often, when I am disappointed by a story, it's because the villain is very, very bad and very, very boring.

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  3. Amen. Good heroes are rarer than they should be, but still not that hard to find. Really good villains, though, are treasures.

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  4. So much awesome in such a little story...
    Once again, I bow to your brilliance.

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  5. This Fuschia Chang comic makes the same point. Warning: the pictures are SFW, but there is occasional use of the f-word in the balloons.

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  6. @Old Kitty: Or, as in this case, a Plan A. ;-)

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  7. Velma lunged from the dark corner and pulled off Lord Plunderfall's metal mask.
    "Mr. Fallbottom! From the ski lodge!?" Bertha and Freddie gasped.
    "I would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for you meddling kids."

    ;)

    Or...maybe Lord Plunderfall's only doubtful because he's in human (and therefore, weaker) form. He will reach a moment of clarity, and realize that he does want to destroy all of humanity, because he is the force of pure malignancy tasked with sending the world into cosmic night. He doesn't realize, however, that he is merely a pawn for the greater force which will raise the world out of the waters again. (Greater force soon to appear in human form with a much more sensible mask.)
    (Author realizes he should have left out 90% of Freddie and Bertha related plot and starts over.)

    ;)

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  8. Ha! This is always what bothered me about half of the first Buffy episodes. You're going to suck the world into hell in order to... um.... play checkers for the rest of eternity? great.

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  9. "Or...maybe Lord Plunderfall's only doubtful because he's in human (and therefore, weaker) form."

    Ah, this would be the Lovecraft/Final Fantasy end boss scenario. Don't you hate it when new, more hideous villains are unexpectedly revealed, particularly by way of a face-rip?

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  10. Conversely though, too many villains these days also have overly-complicated, devastatingly tragic pasts to motivate them. It seems if you're not a devoted servant of mere anarchy, you parents just didn't hug you enough as a child.

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  11. Ah - my comment was intended as a reply to Joel. Sorry Meagan!

    Yes, I believe we're overloaded with variations on stories like, "I cheated on my wife because I'm a sex addict, due to neglect in childhood."

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  12. Yup. And that's what gets us from three perfectly good Star Wars movies to the mess we've got today.

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  13. I recently read the first couple pages of a book that started like this. Needless to say, I didn't go much farther into it.

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  14. Indeed going farther into a book might be rather uncomfortable, anonymous! Maybe even more uncomfortable than going further into the one you were reading at the time?

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  15. I find that making your hero the equivalent sort of "genuinely good" is even worse.

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  16. You'll be hearing from my agent, Stickley.

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  17. Ah. Good point. Hang on, I'll stick an acknowledgement up there.

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  18. Joel, I'm honestly not sure which is worse: doing what you wrote down, or making the antagonists have tragic pasts that come off as being intended to excuse their actions.

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