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A Celebration of Villains

A Celebration of Villains

Elizabeth Mazer head shotBLOGGER: ELIZABETH MAZER

Associate Editor

Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Love Inspired Historical

Teaching two afternoon workshops and meeting with writers, March 18-22, 2016


A Celebration of Villains

Romantic suspense writers are amazing. The way that my fantastic Love Inspired Suspense authors balance compelling characters, fast pacing, strong conflicts, terrifying danger, deep faith and sweet, satisfying romance into each story never fails to impress me. Writing a good romantic suspense story isn’t easy, but when it works wow how it dazzles. How can you make that happen for your story? Here’s my tip—take a closer look at your villain.

I am a champion of those poor, underappreciated bad guys—and you should be, too. The villain is the heart of your story. He (or she! or they!) makes it all happen. In your mental plot party, the hero and heroine bring the warmth, the charm, the strong sense of duty and gradually blossoming love—but the excitement and adrenaline-rush don’t step through the door until the villain arrives with the high-stakes danger.

Know your villains as well as you know your protagonists. What are his goals? What is he willing to do to get what he wants? What’s standing in his way? And how does every action he takes play into his grand scheme?

Imagine a heroine sees something she wasn’t supposed to see, and bolts before the villain can stop her. Once the villain tracks her down, what does he do? Does he send her a threatening note? No, he doesn’t want her on her guard, he wants her oblivious so he can sneak up right behind her. So don’t start your story with a threatening note—start it with the heroine waking up in the middle of the night to someone breaking into her house. Or discovering her car brakes have been cut. Or a gunshot out of nowhere.

Maybe the heroine has info the villain badly needs. Will he try to kill her? Nah, she can’t tell him anything if she’s dead. Will he threaten her? Maybe…but with what? Could he hold one of her loved ones hostage? Could he blackmail her with the threatened exposure of some past secret? Before the story even starts, your villain needs to be asking himself these questions—and finding answers that get him everything he wants.

That’s the fun part of villains—they have a plan. Whether they want to steal an inheritance, cover up a murder, or take over the world, the villain knows precisely what he’s after. Villains aren’t reactive—they start the ball rolling and keep it rolling. While the hero and heroine are dodging bullets and wondering what on earth is going on, the villain is giving an evil laugh and telling his hairless cat that everything is going according to plan. J

Dig deeper into your villains, and watch the story fall into place. Once you know how your villain has decided to threaten/attack/connive his way into what he wants, you’ll know what your hero and heroine are up against. And with those high stakes and ruthless plans in place… the party begins!


Who are your favorite villains?

You’ll meet Elizabeth Mazer at the 2016 Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference, March 18-22, where she will review manuscripts, teach two workshops, and meet with writers.

View Comments (2)
  • Ok, I’ll sound totally vain. One of my favorite villains is Jarvis Lane, a character I created. I absolutely love him and the scenes I have in his POV.

    • Hi, Terri. Good to see you here. It’s so much richer to write a villain you care about. Adds layers. Happy writing!

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