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How to Craft a Great Villainess

Welcome back, HoneyScribblers! Today's post is all about, you guessed it, crafting a strong villainess! Like last week, let's start off with the question you've all probably been wondering in your head: what does it mean to be a villainess?

A villainess is a female character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot, as the dictionary states... but there's not much else that's been said about it. (really, I've tried)

This led me think of these questions: Does it go beyond that? Can it go beyond that? Can a villainess really just be a heroine with a mask, or a person with intentions too sinister for the story, but essential to their own?

From experience, I know how complicated it is to create a strong villainess that beguiles the readers, captivates them in a fierce rage and leaves them in that state for hours, even days. This type of character has many layers, many depths—both emotional and mental—that must be explored before beginning the story, and a past that must be unearthed for the plot to progress from their perspective.

Sounds fun, doesn't it?

So, this brings me to my next question: how do we craft a great villainess?

Well, let's find out.


First things first, let's really delve into why a villainess is a villainess. This person must have had something terrible happen to them to make them the way they are, or become influenced at a young age to act a certain way that either defies or supports a society or person's causes and beliefs.

At the end of the day, we have to realize and understand that they're still real people, and human. They grew up the same way in the beginning, but their maturation process stalled behind the rest of humanity and took a different route. In most cases, it's not even their fault.

While this may explain the villainess' motives, it doesn't justify that they deserve forgiveness. Most villainesses go beyond redemption, beyond restoration of the good that remains in their hearts.

A good villainess is one who doesn't turn good right away; that would imply that they were never really evil to begin with, not in a way that brings strong character depth. So, here are some tips for doing just that:

  1. Make sure your villainess has a backstory. In stories, a villainess is defined by their cruel and malicious actions, but they're still a person with pasts and personalities and a whole lotta pain—probably more than every other character in the story.

  2. A villainess' actions should be shown through the lens of humanity—real, believable, and credible—so that readers can question their own and reveal truths about the reality of their lives.

  3. Remember: every villainess is the heroine of their own story. A hero will hook readers into a story, but a great villainess will make readers crave the resolution of the story and keep them turning page after page. How, you may ask? By forcing the hero into action and drive the story forward with enough conflict to keep the readers on their toes. A villainess should immerse a reader into the story, make them feel like whatever is happening to the hero is actually happening to them.

  4. A villainess should have motive for anything and everything they do. When you give them powerful motivations, they can take over the story and that wouldn't be a bad thing. They have the ability to raise the stakes, hold tension, and give readers reactions that show them far more about the plot than any description ever could. That's a terrifying thought in itself, but it works like a charm.

  5. Make sure the readers—and you, especially—understand WHY they want what they want. What happened in their past to make them this way? To craft a great villainess, you need to explore the defining moment that changed them forever. Did they have to watched a loved one die or get rejected/humiliated by someone they had strong feelings for? It's important that your story has a point of realization that gives the readers knowledge of what happened to the villainess and how deep the wound really is, how badly it messed them up. It doesn't have to be in the form of an entire scene, and it could simply be a sentence or act of symbolism at any point in the story.


Alright, HoneyScribblers, that's all for today! Let me know if you'd like to see a part 2 of this "How to Craft" series (let's call it that), and consider it done! If you ever want to reach out, feel free to message me on my socials which are all linked at the top of the website! You can support my blog by donating using the "Support Me" or by joining my Patreon, where I post new writing tools, resources, and content from my WIP two to three times a week! Also...I opened a freelance service! You can now receive thoroughly proofread and copy edited manuscripts for a small price by clicking "Services" at the top of the page! If you have a finished draft and dread editing, I'd be happy to lend a hand! For a limited amount of time, I'll be editing any manuscript you send that's between 1000-3000 words for FREE, so you get the gist of how I edit and if you think we'd be the right fit!

Alright, now that that's all been said, I'll see you in next week's post! Talk to you then! xx

all credit for this post goes to P.S. Hoffman, Well-Storied, Writer's Edit, and Jerry Jenkins!

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