Creating Villains Audiences Will Fall in Love With

by Alycia King

Almost everyone loves a character that is good and fights through every problem he or she is faced with. But what about those characters that aren’t so righteous? The villains.

There’s no law that says you can’t have both a villain protagonist and a gripping story. Jeff Lindsay, author of the “Dexter” series, created one of the most beloved villain protagonists in recent years. Lindsay’s books sparked the popular Showtime series “Dexter,” which is now in its eighth season.

But how does someone go about creating a lovable villain?

No. 1. Make the character relatable. Dexter is a serial killer who only kills other serial killers. Find a personality trait – fear and jealously work very well for this – that allows the audience to connect with your protagonist.

No. 2. Develop an injustice done to the character. Dexter’s mother was murdered by drug dealers and he was rescued by one of the officers, who then became his father figure. Did your character experience a difficult situation, or feel slighted by society? Figuring this out will help you on your way to connecting your character to the audience.

No. 3. Don’t forget your villain is human. Add something your villain likes, something they fear – the more convincing these are, the more convincing your character will be.

No. 4. Add some positive qualities. If you want the audience to like the character, and maybe even fall in love with them, you need to add some qualities that draw the reader in. Evil doesn’t always need to be pure evil, through and through. Lindsay’s character has a family and tries to do what is best for them.

No. 5. Last but not least, do your research. If you’re basing your villain off of something in real life, such as a serial killer, you should read up about the subject – but be careful, people might become suspicious of your intentions.

“Dexter” author Jeff Lindsay talks about fan reaction to his character and the TV show.