can a nice person make a great villain?

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Can this woman make a note-worthy villain?

I’m a lover of all things YA, from fantasy to contemporary romance to dystopian–pretty much everything but horror. I like my sleep waaaay to much to tap into all that nasty.

I digress.

Most antagonists follow a pretty similar formula. For the sake of this post, let’s assume they are human, and not some force of nature or psychological element opposing the protagonist.

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If its a fantasy, the sky is the limit for what type of villain rules those worlds. A dystopia–piece of cake. It’s society and/or the powers that be against the hero. And romance? How about that obnoxious young girl at school who’s trying to keep the love interests apart?

Villains come in every variation, from epically bad, with a touch of sadness, to the quintessential grim reaper. But can they simply be a nice person?

I’ve been mulling over this since this weekend. Family gatherings tend to mess with my head, and the one I attended on Sunday left me contemplating this conundrum. Because, well, let’s face it. It sucks when one of the nicest people hates your guts…

 

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She smiled her greeting and offered a warm hug. I felt the embrace to be genuine, though I knew it wouldn’t last. Soon, I would be invisible to her, and not worth indulging in conversation, or worse, the object of her scornful reproach when I overstepped and tried for humor and a gentle good-nature ribbing. Then the smile would tighten and the light would leave her charming blue eyes. A hot summer breeze couldn’t melt that ice once ignited.

It hadn’t always been this way. I recognize the nice person she endeavored to be. It’s just, the nice only went so far and it never included me.

I sipped some water, watching her interact and smile and ask all kinds of questions to the other party-goers. She reserved that interest in only those who mattered. I wasn’t on her a-list. And as she hung on every word, so intent, so fully absorbed in the one speaking, the writer in me sorted through the questions batting around in my head.

What was beneath that collected exterior? Why was she trying so hard to be sweet and effervescent with everyone she met? If it wasn’t real, what was she hiding? And could it be so dark, so twisted that she could be classified as a villain in a novel?

The words came to me…

Brittle. Something clashed with her warm smile. I saw it in the way she held onto the conversations too tightly. She had to be in control.

Ulterior motives. Not to leave others feeling loved or comforted, the niceness was for her sake. She needed to believe the best about herself and would go to any length to protect that image.

Absolute rigidity.  Any strength taken too far can become a weakness.

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And so, I stood in my little corner of the room and allowed the word “villain” to swirl through my thoughts. It only took a few tweaks to turn her into a potential novel’s antagonist. For though I believed she was truly a nice person, darkness lurked behind her smile. She was wound too tightly, grasping for control, manipulating others to believe what she wanted them to believe. Intent on control whatever the costs…  

I swallowed. Perhaps it was a good day to be invisible.

****

What do you think? Care to share?

Happy writing!

Sue 

 

 

 

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About Sue, the YA Author

My passion includes writing and reading contemporary and fantasy young adult books.
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10 Responses to can a nice person make a great villain?

  1. Judi Lynn says:

    Great scene! But does she PRETEND to be nice, or is she REALLY nice? She sounds like a fraud. People who smile while they hurt or torture victims make great villains! Makes me think of Dolores Umbridge and Harry Potter. The meanness astounded even more under pink ruffles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think in this case she thinks she’s really nice but there’s no way a nice person would treat someone the way she treats me. Yes, it’s based on a real person!

      Pretty cool though, thinking about characters outside the box.
      And pink ruffles make the best disguise!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This is awesome Sue! I have to agree with Judi. Dolores Umbridge immediately sprang to mind.

    Liked by 2 people

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