It's true. Who doesn't know about Darth Vader? Who hasn't--in that raspy, deep voice paired with the hiss of oxygen--uttered the words "Luuuke ... I am your father"?
Agent Kelly Sonnack said that cliche villains are so ... well, cliche. Give your reader a villain who has something to offer the hero, something to tempt him with. Who does that better than Darth? Especially when the movies are paired with the prequel episodes. I kept hoping that somehow Mr. Vader would turn things around.
The best villains are the ones you're secretly feeling sorry for; the ones that make you feel the need to shout at your book, "DON'T LISTEN, HERO!"
How to round out your villain:
1. Treat your villain with the same respect you treat your main character. You put a lot of time into crafting the hero/heroine's backstory. Do the same for the villain. How much do we know about Voldemort's story? Almost as much as we know about Harry's! The more you know about your villain, the more villainously appetizing you can make him.
2. Make sure he/she has something to offer the hero. An amazingly evil laugh just doesn't cut it these days. Take The Sphinx from Brandon Mull's Fablehaven series. He's convinced he's committing also sorts of evil injustices for the greater good of society. He has something to offer Kendra and Seth. Your villain should have something that tantalizes the hero; that makes him/her second guess themselves.
Who's your favorite villain and why? What makes them so good ... or bad ... or whatever ... ?
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I've been writing since I was old enough to grasp a crayon--my grandma even has an early copy of a "book" I made her. I have a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Wyoming and will (hopefully) soon be starting a graduate program in English. When I'm not breaking up impromptu UFC fights in the living room or losing miserably to my boys at Uno, I'm ... well, writing or editing, of course! I'm married to my best friend, and we have three rambunctious but simply amazing little boys.