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Villains are bad, right?

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

Okay, if you give me a villain in your story, you're giving me the parameters of good & evil for the world you've created. You're telling me that should I think or feel a certain way whilst walking through this place you've created.

Now, I'm just going to ask this, but it is completely rhetorical; Villains are bad, right?

To me, when you give me your villain, when you present to me the thing in your created world that is seen as dark by the general populace of said world -- I'm good. I get it.

I know good from bad, in a general sense of understanding.

So, if you've gone through all the trouble to do this -- all those hours of writing and creating, why for the love of anything and everything holy do you waste my time telling me the horrid tale of your villain and why they've become the darkness in your story?

Yes, I've been told time and again I have to roll with the punches and change with the times... but when it comes to good vs. evil, I'm sorry -- evolution is not a factor.

Where I come from, you are supposed to despise the evil of the piece -- the shadow in the alley, the killer in the closet.

Giving me all this added drama of bad childhoods, abuse, or some other ill-fated experience which caused your dark character to in fact become dark -- you've now diluted your hero's story or any chance of me rooting from them with full conviction.

Not to mention giving the bad element in the world you've built carte blanche to do more evil and then turn to us readers and say, "Hey... my mom was an alcoholic and dad was an abusive womanizer who spent all the Christmas money on strippers -- so cut me some slack." When I read a story, I want to cheer the hero.

I want to see the hero overcome the obstacles you've laid out and, against all odds, prove that conviction, faith, and integrity in the face of all adversity still has the power to win. But giving me a villain with issues and a 'page-eating' backstory that should've been given to your hero -- you're not only going to lose me as a reader, you're going to kill your hero's momentum because everyone's focused on this villain with the bad unfortunate past. I don't know when this humanization of the villain became a thing, but it's been around for awhile now -- and it's gaining strength. Look at the shows where mobsters, murderers, and the lowest dregs of society are now hailed as brave and just simply, 'misunderstood'. Blurring the line between good and evil in your story in my opinion makes you, the writer, the real villain -- and as I asked earlier... villains are bad, right?

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