Storytelling- Crafting a powerful villain

Storytelling- Crafting a powerful villain

“Your villain is not evil enough!”

It was an ‘evil-enough’ note I received recently on one of my story that put me in a never ending thought limbo. Why is my villain not evil enough!? He is aggressive, wicked, wretched, is equipped with all the evil intentions. He waves his gun at people and threatens to kill them. He is a ticking time bomb about to explode and destroy everyone around him! Yet, he is not evil enough!


Failing to garner any sort of reaction from the audience.


At first, I thought, maybe the reader didn’t read the story right. But that’s just me being an arrogant D&*K, overprotective of his creation. So here I am, back to the drawing board figuring out why my villain is not evil enough! And to figure it out I have picked one my favorite villains as a reference point to help me with my crafting.

This particular villain has given many a sleepless night. His haunting introduction has scarred many. You want to kill him but also want to be him. Yes. I said it. Forgive me.

So let’s welcome the almighty, evil villain for this exercise.

Drum rolls…






NEGAN! (He who rhymes with…vegan!😂…Ignore me, its just one of those days)

So lets start with how cool villains are introduced (or can be introduced) –


Powerful Villains do not introduce themselves. No! That’s just uncool. They are introduced, mostly by their followers, the minions. In The Walking Dead, it’s the time when our hero (our hero is a unit here- Sasha, Darryl, and Abrahm) are returning to their camp from a mission where they encounter Negan’s men for the first time.


His men confront and corner the hero into surrendering their weapons and proceed to kill them. The hero is heavily outnumbered. This is the first time our villain’s name is dropped.


Who is Negan? It’s too early to reveal (it gives the mystery away). So Negan’s men refuse to answer the question and draw out their weapons to kill the hero.

Somehow our hero manages to get his hands on a bazooka and blows the enemy to pieces.

Hero-1, Villain-0

The villain lost this round but his presence is now established. His authority is now challenged. Also it’s OK to lose a few pawns. If your villain is truly powerful he will have many more. Besides, there has to be a trigger to make the villain really mad for him to enjoy the taste of blood at his climatic moment.

2. Raise the stakes!

A new element is introduced to give credibility to the villains wickedness.

In the story a new camp is introduced called the ‘Hilltop’.


This camp is running low on ammunition to protect themselves. While the hero’s camp ‘Alexandria’ is running on low on food. Both decide to form a partnership and help each other out.

Here the villain is introduced again. But this time, in the form of a story. (Let the mystery build up.)

Our villain has been forcefully taking most of camp hilltop’s supplies in exchange for their lives. Now, because their last drop was light the villain forces one of Hilltop’s member into killing the leader. Here our hero is in the right place at the right time to pacify the situation but also witness the bloody confrontation created by our nasty villain. 


After this, another story is revealed by a member of the camp. A story of  how Negan killed a 16 year old boy named Rory to make an example of.  (Don’t be shy to craft dark stories for your hateful villain.)

Here our hero, now uncertain of his and his tribes safety,  decides to sneak into the villains camp and take him out. Our hero is forced to keep his morals aside and do the dirty work of killing strangers.

At nightfall, the hero enters the villain’s camp and takes them out. He kills in numbers against his morals and slays his enemy. But they don’t find Negan or even the answer to who he is. They just get a mysterious reply to their question from one of the members before his death.

“We are all Negan!”

Our hero manages to win this round too.

Hero-2, villain-0


3. Setup for our villain’s grand entry. 

An inciting incident takes place in our hero’s camp where he has to take one of it’s pregnant members (Maggie) to the other camp (Camp Hilltop). Camp hilltop is equipped with a better medical doctor which can help her out. Our hero gets in the van with some other members and starts off on his journey.

On their way to camp hilltop, they encounter Negan’s men- The saviors. This time Negan’s men introduce themselves properly and slowly. They act as threshold guardians by blocking the Hero’s path to camp hilltop (to his goal). They lay a half dying survivor from one of the slaughtered camps to send a clear cut message.  ‘Fight us and you are going to end up dead.’


Our hero, stands strong and does not get intimidated so easily.  He turns back without confrontation and decides to take another route. He tries 4 different routes. First one is covered by more of Negan’s men, around 10-12. The second, blocked by even more men ( around 25). The third is blocked by a man made barricade of zombies, chains running through their bodies to form a wall. Our hero tries to force his way through but bullets are fired at his feet because of which he has to retreat. The fourth is blocked by big wooden logs establishing the fact that along with the numbers in his army, he’s also got  heavy machinery in the time of an apocalypse. Our Villain is a bonafide bad ass!   

Hero-2, villain-5

In a last attempt, our hero tries to outsmart our villain by sending one of the members with the van which acts as a decoy while they sneak through another path. But the villain is no dumbo. He is waiting for them.

Our hero gets caught and is escorted to the villain’s den (a makeshift assembly of his men in middle of the Forrest)


Our hero and his people are made to kneel down (including the pregnant girl) and asked to get ready for their lesson in why to not cross a mighty villain 101)

Moments later our wicked, grand, mighty villain steps out of his parked Vehicle. Say hello to Negan.


Oh! he also has a side kick. A bat covered with barbed wire. Meet Lucille! She is thirsty for some blood.

His power and presence is evident through his unconventional conduct. Our villain is more like a headmaster of a school about to give the kids a lesson in discipline. And because our hero did not abide to the rules of his class our villain must punish him.

Punishment – ‘Someone out of the hero’s group is going to get a beating of his lifetime. Someone is going to die. If anyone else makes a noise in the midst of this, they will be next.’

And off goes our beautiful villain-




There goes one! And because someone breaks the rule of silence, there goes another. Baam!


Goodbye pregnant girl’s boyfriend. See you in the next life.

Our villain doesn’t stop there. He has to make sure our hero properly understand the consequences of breaking the Negan law. He proceeds to punish our hero further and almost makes him axe his son’s hand. Negan stops only when he is convinced that the hero has learned his lesson and will not dare to retaliate back. He only stops when he sees true fear in our hero’s eyes.


Hero- 0, villain -1000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

And that students, is how you craft an evil villain… 😎

Whew! I thoroughly enjoyed this exercise of crafting a villain 101. Remember, there are no set rules in crafting a villain but I hope this structure sort of helps you in making a powerful introduction for you villain. I also hope I don’t have to pick up a bat like our villain and smash this lesson in your head. So run to your drawing board and write away. 😘


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