Powerful Characters

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    Summary: How do you write a character (in this case a villain) that’s earth-shakingly powerful enough to be on the “Don’t anger” lists of those who know of them while a) the readers don’t consider this character shilling, b) the readers don’t consider the character to be OP and poorly-written, and c) get the readers to also agree that “This guy is terrifying”.

    In my story the main villain is around 4000 years old and still in shape physically and mentally- thus, he’s been able to profit off the long years of survival by growing in skill and magical/physical power. He wants to corrupt the protagonist instead of outright killing him, so he’s going to act as if he’s the henchman for someone else and that any opposition is just business. He even maintains the disguise amongst his evil comrades, with perhaps only a few of his closest allies knowing that he’s calling all the shots- everyone else things of him as that magical weirdo with armor and a cape. Part of the reveal that he’s the Real Villain would be a show of force that would leave everyone shaken. The problem with this, is how do I get the audience to buy that he’s legitimately powerful instead of saying that I’m just favoring him?

    Visually, this would be easy to demosntrate: consider Thanos’ 10-second fight with the Hulk in Infinity War, or how General Grievous almost annihilates five Jedi in the 2003 Star Wars Clone Wars series. However, I’m sure I’m also missing another part of that- I’m also wondering how to translate it to writing. Any thoughts?

    Taylor Clogston

    Hey, long time no see. The first Mistborn book does exactly what you’re talking about. The Lord Ruler is reduced to a skeleton at one point and just regenerates.

    I have no idea what you mean regarding shilling and readers thinking you, the author are “favoring” him, or even why you’d think a ridiculously powerful villain implies he’s poorly written.

    If this guy is the main physical obstacle, why shouldn’t he be ridiculously powerful? A diablo ex machina is perfectly acceptable, so long as it inevitably makes sense and isn’t something like a mundane police procedural revealing the existence of superheroes in the last five minutes. And even that has its place in certain kinds of stories.

    And why do you think this would be easier to show visually than on a page? You have even more descriptive tools available than a purely visual fight scene has.

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    Arindown (Gracie)


    Hmmm…a couple of my thoughts. I have the same problem as you. I’ve got a wizard villain who needs to be horrible, but I’m having trouble writing him that way.

    Also, I think see what you mean when you refer to movies. I always feel intimidated by movies, because of all the details they have that I just can’t explain without boring my readers.😆

    One thing I would do would be to copy (in theory, not in exact writing) villains that you find in other stories.

    Also, I think you might make him almost respectable. Almost super enough that the reader could aspire to his strength and wit. And then make him horrible. I find (for myself) that if I respect a villain first, and then learn how corrupt he is, I’ll hate him more.

    For example, I don’t know if you’ve read Magician’s Nephew, but the evil queen, Jadis, is very powerful, very beautiful, and for a split second…as she’s telling her story…you almost feel like she was in the right. Like she could have been good. But she’s not. She’s evil to the core, and she murders her whole kingdom because of it.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense.😄 I’m still working through how to make a totally evil bad-guy in my story too. If I sound all jumbled, just ignore my comment.😆

    Not all those who wander are lost.

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