Heroes and villains. What story is complete without either one of them? Your hero needs someone to thwart, and your villain needs someone to destroy. It’s a match made in literary heaven.
There are things every writer should consider when planning a story’s hero and villain. Things that go beyond their hair and eye color. Their traits will play a big part of who they are. And how much the reader likes, or hates, them.
I am going to take a look at both of them, but for now, let’s think about the hero of your story.
What makes a great action hero? Is it the way he dresses? Or maybe the place he lives?
No, it’s the way he is!
How he talks, walks, and of course, handles those dangerous situations. That’s what makes a great hero.
There are things I look for in a hero when reading an action story.
1. A sense of humor is crucial for an action hero. I just love to hear a hero make a funny comment when things are at their most dire. Jokes break the tension a little and make the reader laugh, and love, the hero just a bit more.
2. A commitment to finish the job. A great action hero doesn’t quit, though he might have his moments of doubt at whether he can finish the job. Battered and bruised, he can’t lie down and quit. He has a job to do, and do it he must, even at great risk to himself.
3. Must be loyal to his family, his job, his beliefs, whatever is important to him. He can’t sell out to the bad guys, unless he is using that as a ploy to win. Even then, his loyalty is what will keep him on track, and get him through the tough times.
4. Ability to get the job done. He must have the skills necessary to solve the problem, save the girl and make the bad guy pay. His background needs to include his training. How did he learn to fight or operate a machine gun? Give your reader some insight into his training. Otherwise, when he does these things, you’ll leave your reader wondering how. Or why they should keep reading.
5. A rugged good looks, though not essential, does make me smile. Okay, I’ll admit it; I like to read about a good looking hero saving the day! He doesn’t have to be a drop dead, romance novel cover looker, but he should at least be handsome. And if he’s rugged looking too, that’s a plus in my book.
That’s the kind of hero I look for when I am reading a good action tale. The kind of hero I would want to rescue me, or keep me safe, from harm.
Now, on to the villains.
Okay, I am going to make a confession. I’ve always had a thing for Darth Vader. That voice sends shivers down my spine. He’s bad for the sake of being bad. He is a great evil villain.
No action story is complete without an awesome villain for the hero or heroine to thwart. But what makes a great villain? There are things I feel are important when planning your villain, so your reader’s will want him to be stopped at all costs.
1. He’s got to be bad: He’s got to be down right awful. Make him as mean as you want. Make him the kind of person who wouldn’t think twice about wiping out an entire city over afternoon tea.
2. He’s got to have a hatred of the hero. This can be a past issue, or something more recent, but he must hate the hero with a passion. What good is a villain if he isn’t trying to do the hero in? His main goal, besides world domination, should be the offing of the hero.
3. He’s got to have a decent army of minions. He needs enough people to put his evil plans into action. Any good evil villain will tell you, without the support of your minions, you’d have to set all those explosive charges and push all those buttons.
4. He’s got to have some kind of soft side. Hatred can only sustain someone for so long. Even if it’s just having a pet, or a fondness for pretty paintings. There are two sides to every person, and there should be two sides to your villain.
5. He’s got to have a great evil plan. What good is being an evil villain, or having an army of minions, if you have a lousy plan to take over the world? Come on, you know deep down you want him to win.
6. He’s got to have a great escape route. When the chips are down, your villain should be ready to flee the scene, leaving his minions to face the wrath of the hero…and the army the hero brings with him to thwart the evil plot.
7. He’s got to have a great death scene. Unless you plan on bringing him back for the sequel, you want his death to be as spectacular as his life. Let him go out with a BANG.