#LoveOzLit: Does a villain make a hero better?

Villians and heroes; author quotes

I have a confession: this question came about in possibly the weirdest way: I was thinking about film villains. I know, I know, it’s seems blasphemous to be thinking about film, and applying it to fiction, but that’s how my mind works.

But, villains. Let’s face it, the villain is kind of more fun — Melinda Salisbury, author of The Sin Eater’s Daughterdid an amazing piece about villains that made me realise she’s right: anyone can be a villain, because it only a little for someone to do the wrong thing. A villain is the opposite version of your hero, and they must be understandable and relatable. The right kind of villain makes the hero darker, makes him or her question everything — isn’t that the sort of twisty goodness you want in book and a hero?

Which brings me to the next question in the #LoveOzLit project: do villains make heroes better? Can the right villain can make a hero more than a cardboard cut-out character to which audiences cannot respond? Or is all about the hero?

Below, is a quote from Tony Park, author of the recent An Empty Coast on villains, and here he too mentions how understandable a villain must be to work in fiction.

Tony Park author of An Empty Coast

Which villains in fiction do that for you? Which ones make you understand them or even like them?


  • LilyElement says:

    I like when it explains why the villain is the way he/she is sometimes. Or if they’re pretty evenly matched with the hero/heroine I enjoy that. It’s no fun if the hero/heroine stomps the villain with no effort.

    • Verushka says:

      Yes! Me too, the more I learn about the villain, the better he turns out to be for me. And, as much as it’s not fun if the hero stomps the villain, I get bored when the villain gets away with everything, or rather, the hero gets dumbed down for the villain, you know?

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