The Villain as the Shadow

What’s a villain good for? I used to think villains simply existed to make the story possible, to be there so the good guys could fight someone. Today, I read an article that changed my shallow view, and I realized that villains are much more complex creatures.

As articulated in Joe Bunting’s 9 Villains in Literature and Film and How to Make Yours Better, villains are shadows of the main character. Bits and pieces broken off, intended to show facets of the protagonist that we’d never get to see if the villain wasn’t around.

So what’s a villain good for? Defining the protagonist. Outlining the protagonist. Saying the things our protagonist won’t, that still need to be said.

Go ahead and check out Joe Bunting’s article. You’ll get to know your villains better.


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