We Need a Great Female Villain

We Need a Great Female Villain
September 19, 2016 1 Comment Writing Advice Nancy E Miller

 villainWe need a really great female villain.  An unrepentant evil, psychologically unhinged without reference to hormones, doesn’t need a man to create chaos, villain.  And I want to read about her NOW!   I want someone to break the stereotypes and create a normal person pushed to abnormal behavior.

Female villains are often washed down versions of their male counterparts.  Historically, most tend to be manipulative, highly sexualized, seething on the inside, and able to function in society.  Okay, Miss Havisham (Great Expectations   didn’t fall into all of those…so she created a mini-me to do the job.

Stockard Channing made a TV movie, The Girl Most Likely To, years back where she was a plain girl who was sexually humiliated by a group of boys.  She has plastic surgery following a car accident and goes after the ones who don’t even recognize her now.

cb3d11bf7dae8a51afaaa6dc992dabc753fc8c86Your villain doesn’t have to be a psychopath.  Maybe she suffers from other mental issues like paranoia, manic-depression, bi-polar disorder.  Or does she even need a specific mental diagnosis?  From my time in mental health, I can tell you most people don’t fit into a box.  They are a hodge-podge of different symptoms in their very real lives.  I feel for them.

She does need a background that supports her actions.  It can be something as ordinary as being bullied as a child. (Who wasn’t?) But in her mind, the bullying took on a life of its own. The words replay in her mind and influence her behavior in very, naughty ways.

And she has to be good at something…exceptionally good…something the hero/heroine can’t work around.  Often in male villains, that takes a more physical aspect.  Female villains might use a more intellectual path. Not meaning to sound sexist.  If a female villain wants to blow up a bus, go for it.

Possibly she is a business woman who has decided that she is tired of polishing the glass ceiling and it is time to take action.  Or a professional runner who can no longer race because of a competitor’s careless move.  Just spit-balling here, I’m sure you can think up more complicated plots.

Harley_Quinn_and_the_Joker_(art_by_Alex_Ross)Just remember, in the villain’s mind, they are completely justified.  So make her believable.  Even if the motive is off-center, it makes sense to her.  They have values.  She may not mind black-mailing the boss to the point he jumps off the roof but she always acknowledges the mail boy, the most invisible person in an office environment.

They have to follow through on their word, although I can see an interesting plot twist with not going through with the first attempt and using it as a learning experience would be good.

Female villains  may be overshadowed by their male counterparts.  They may work side by side but somehow get less credit.  Or they end locked in a sick perversion of a romantic relationship where they are abused and manipulated.

I want a stand on your own, average, everyday woman who has been pushed past the point of reason and now is out to wreak some revenge. So it’s up to you. Create a great female villain that will live on for years.  Make her another Miss Havisham on steroids.  Go for it!

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Nancy E Miller Nancy E. Miller, romantic suspense author of Shark Bait and Crystal Unicorns, lives near St. Louis with her husband and three dogs, pygmy goats, chickens and a cranky rooster named Ketchup. Her degree is in Psychology and Sociology. She has worked in education and mental health as a case manager and crisis counselor.
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  1. one Comment

    Poppy Reid

    An excellent idea! Now we’re seeing a lot of strong female protagonists who are emotionally three-dimensional but can overcome their obstacles. A female villian would be deliciously evil, but likeable, somehow, and I like that you’re moving away from the “psychopath” reason. Might start brainstorming some ideas! Thanks again for the great post.

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