9 Tips to Help You Develop a Believable Female Villain

Happy July, or happy #CampNaNoWriMo! We’re kicking off the month by exploring different ways to improve your writing.

Oftentimes, plausible female villains are overshadowed by their male counterparts. Here are 9 ways to improve your story and make your characters believably bad to the bone:

  1. As always, read other stories about villains, male or female, to pick up on how others have successfully (or unsuccessfully) crafted their villains.
  2. Give her positive traits.
  3. Villains need core values, whether they’re good or bad, and need to stick to them.
  4. Don’t do the ‘psychopathic villain’: it’s overused. So are villains with Borderline Personality Disorder.
  5. Make your villain love something: the reader will empathize with them and be drawn in to the story.
  6. Your villain needs to believe that they’re good. It doesn’t matter that everyone else thinks they’re bad: this belief gives them integrity when they fight for their beliefs.
  7. She needs to be an expert at something. Villains challenge heroes — if your villain is an expert, then your hero will have a hard time defeating them, producing conflict and driving the plot.
  8. Give her a realistic backstory that led her to her villainy. Villains, as do heroes, have a story to tell.
  9. Have her do exactly what she says she will. Kill off another character or torture your protagonist: this will give your villain authenticity.


Who are your favorite female villains?


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