So, I have been thinking about Villains ever since I started my first novel and I think I have finally come up with a good conclusion: I like 'good' bad buys.
Let me explain.
In my first book (I won't even give a title because it changed so frequently) I wanted my villain to be SO scary that I made her mean as heck. She screamed a lot and was quite vicious. At least in the end she did. In the beginning I think I got her partially right. She was good (or pretending to be so) and then showed her true colors. But by the end of the book I was affraid she was too melodramatic. A problem that a lot of authors make when starting out.
Now, as I have thought about this a lot, I wondered what really makes a person evil to me and last night (or coming on gradually for a while) something clicked. My husband came up to our bedroom where I was writing and turned on the television (yeah, totally not cool =) and I got sucked into the show he was watching, CRIMINAL MINDS. In this episode there was a man who believed what he was doing was right. He was a God fearing man who basically ran a cult and a house of polygomy. Gross, but overall he seemed like a good guy at first...until things didn't go his way. Then he turned and showed HIS true colors.
That got me thinking. The people that have always gotten to me, in movies or books, were people that basically 'acted' the good part, thought they were good, but did evil things. Here's a good example: On X-MEN, the part of Magneto, he really thought that human-kind was evil and had a valid case. He knew that they needed to be stopped so that mutants wouldn't be hurt, or taken advantage of any more. They even came up with a great backstory that makes you feel really sorry for him when he was in a Nazi work camp and saw his parents taken away, presumebly to their deaths.
I'm trying to think up another great example and my mind is blank, but I'm sure you could come up with dozens of great ones. Who is your favorite villain? What makes them so evil?
I really think subtlty is key. The villains that get to me the most twist the truth until it hurts. They get under your skin and make you want to scream at them that they are wrong. And they do it in a way that leaves you tongue-tied. Unable, perhaps, to fight back because you can't think of a way to explain your side after their case has been presented. Or just the opposite, they make you so angry that you are tempted to stoop to their level. This is the kind of villain/bully that is real.
Now, what do you think? Do you have any real-life experience with the bad guys? Maybe someone you could base yours off of? I think I do. Though I would never say =)