Updated: Jun 24, 2022
Why? Because villains guarantee that your story stays exciting.
Sure, we love to hate them, especially if they're written right. But think about it? What on earth would we do without them?
The "villains" in your story can be everything from a relatively benign, wounded and complex antagonist (of both an internal or external sort) to the downright actively evil kind. Basically anything and everything from the protagonists own internal saboteur, to a duplicitous friend/relative/co-worker, to a fierce rival/opponent, to a disastrous life circumstance, to the devil himself.
It matters not what kind of villain your heroine/hero will ultimately be confronted/challenged by. What matters is that there is indeed a strong challenge for them to wrestle with. That’s what makes stories exciting. That’s what makes it so fulfilling when our heroines triumph. The more challenging it is, the more enjoyable the pay off is, when they get to the other side.
If you make it too easy for your protagonist, you won’t have a story to write. (Hint: that's what makes the second act so tough to write. Not enough conflict.) So even if it’s internal (a fear or limitation your heroine/hero has to get over) the challenge becomes how to show how real and present that fear/limitation is to them. You have to think about and create the worst case scenarios that would exacerbate those particular fears/limitations, so that your heroine really has to stretch in order to deal with them and ultimately rise above them (or fail and learn something new). And in this pursuit, as I said before, the villain is your best friend.
That's your inspirational tip for the day, as you continue down the road of your writing adventures. Don't be afraid to be bold! Heighten! Allow some of your characters to be unlikeable. It’s your story and you can do whatever you want.
Also just for fun, click here for some great examples of the most extreme of villains brought to you by Screencraft They've got loads of inspiration there, to get the ole inspirational juices flowing.
And as always, if you're planning to tackle a big writing project in the coming year and feel like you could use some support in order to ensure your success. Check out my upcoming workshops and courses, and get on my calendar for a free introductory coaching session.