Characters Cliches Writing Techniques

How to Write a Good Bad Guy: Learning From Examples

We all love a good bad guy.

By Taylor Watson

(Picture courtesy of Wilson da Vitorino on

Quick note from Lauryn:

Hello everyone! This week, I’m publishing Taylor’s first post with Pro Story Builders! Be sure to leave a comment and mention some of your favorite villains. Enjoy!

Villains are always written as the troublemakers. They always get in our heroes way. So naturally we love to hate them. However, we do not give them enough credit. Without the antagonist, the protagonists would have no ruble to emerge from.

Avoid Cliches

The common mad scientist, bank robber, gang member, or evil stepmother/queen has been done to death. If you have to include a character like that, give them something that makes them stand out.

Not All Bad Guys are Created Equally

Look at these characters. Each has been done before, but take note of how they avoid character cliché.


He – who – shall – not- be- named from the Harry Potter was destined to a horrible life from birth. Voldemort’s mother used magic to trick his muggle father into conceiving him. He paid the price for that by not being able to feel love or friendship.

Rule to Remember

All bad guys must have something to make the readers empathize with them.

Imagine being incapable of making friends or having your first crush. Sometimes our friends and family are the ones who steer us into doing our best.

What if somebody attempted to reason with Voldemort before he began his deathly obsession with immortality?

Nurse Ratched

In the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nurse Mildred Ratched is a former Army nurse. She rules a psychiatric hospital with no heart.

The patients live in fear of being severely punished for doing anything that is not on her schedule.

…. Anything that brings them the smallest amount of joy.

Rule to Remember

Pick the type of villain.

There is the bully, the good character gone bad, the sympathetic villain, etc.

Nurse Ratched is written as the bully type.

The White Witch

In The Chronicles of Narnia the Lion, the Book, and the Wardrobe, the White White witch is a modified evil witch. Her name is a reference to the 100 year long winter spell she cast on Narnia.

She killed all humans, (including killed her family) so she could rule. She uses the forbidden magic and the fear of being overthrown to keep her crown.

Rule to Remember

Note by Lauryn:

The White Witch is a great example of why a villain should be in power over the hero in some way.

How does your villain rule over the other characters? Physically, mentally, or emotionally?

When a bad guy is in power, they have more influence over the protagonists and thus, more influence in the story.

Thanks so much for reading, and be sure to check back for a new post next Monday!

By taylorwats

My name is Taylor Watson, and I’m a contributing writer and intern for Pro Story Builders.

My favorite book series is the Beautiful Creatures series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.

I am in the process of getting my Bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Any free time is spent with my two children that I’ve adopted. They are the sweetest and energetic dogs ever. We currently live in South Texas.

12 replies on “How to Write a Good Bad Guy: Learning From Examples”

Beautiful stories wish we could all have a positive prospective on the good bad boys I am a nurse but I truly related to nurse ratchet thank you for that I’m on my journey of healing so I identified with her look forward to reading more very interested

Liked by 2 people

Fantastic job, Taylor! Very interesting read, and as a huge horror fan- I loved the subject matter! Looking forward to reading more from you.

Liked by 2 people

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