We talk a lot about our heroes – and rightly so. But just for a moment, I’d like to put the spotlight on villains, because without them – well maybe without them, our heroes wouldn’t be quite the same.
So what makes a villain? My dictionary tells me that a villain is someone who ‘harms others’. That’s a good start but it’s not the whole story. Another definition ‘at odds with the hero’ works better for me, because it touches on the relationship between hero and villain. But in the final analysis, I think that villainy is all about motive. A villain is someone who intends to do harm.
Medical Romance isn’t generally noted for its villains. They’re there, for sure, the results of their actions stamped on the hero and heroine’s hearts and minds, but as characters they tend not to get much space on the page. It seems to me that most stories need a villain in some form though, whether lurking nastily in the background or right there in the thick of the action. Perhaps the remote, faceless villains are all the more sinister – as we see them only through the effect that they have on others.
Just as no hero or heroine is perfect, then a villain must also have some redeeming characteristics. But some kind of villain, whether appearing in the form of a group of people, a situation that’s just plain wrong, or a single character, is one of the catalysts that any hero (or heroine) needs to test their mettle. And in some stories, a villain turns out to be the star of the show – think back to Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham, to Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly, or Glen Close as Cruella de Vil.
So do you have any nominations for the list of larger than life villains that we love to hate? Or any thoughts about writing villains, or the kinds of villains that you want to read? I’d love to hear them.
And finally, I can’t resist showing you my latest hero. ‘Doctor on Her Doorstep’ is in the shops in the UK this month and I’ve been sneaking in to bookshops at every opportunity and scanning the shelves to see if it’s there. Gives me such a thrill to see it!