Skip to content

Let’s Talk About Villains

June 8, 2013

One of the many pleasures of being a writer is fellowship with kindred souls who share my passion for the written word. One such person is Sarah Richmond. I’m thrilled that Sarah has agreed to write something for Birth of a Novel.

A_Most_Ineligible_SuitorPix_Sarah is the author of two Montlake Historical Romances: Dulcie Crowder Gets Her Man and A Most dulcie_imageIneligible Suitor. Both books are available in paperback and E-book formats from Excerpts from both books can be found at

 Let’s hear what Sarah has to say about villains.

 You know, those nasty characters we love to hate. The writer can pluck the worst and best emotions from a reader by creating believable villains. We keep turning the pages to find out if these dastardly ne’er do wells get what he or she so justly deserves.

 I’ve created a list of my Top Ten Villains. I’m sure you have some hum-dingers of your own. Please share them!

 10.)  King Edward Longshanks: In Braveheart, how very villainous of the King to invoke PrimaeNoctis—the right of the a lord to take a newly married Scottish woman to his bed. The injustice is enough to make him despicable.

 9.) Snidely Whiplash: Snidely holds the mortgage to Nell’s home and threatens to evict her if the mortgage isn’t paid. I could never figure out why he tied her to the train tracks, but we children booed anyhow. Also, Snidely has a villainous sneer and is sneaky. More booing.

 8.) The Sheriff of Nottingham: The nemesis of Robin Hood, the Sheriff upholds the law not because it’s the right thing to do but because he wants to curry favor with the King. We’ve all known people like him. My favorite Sheriff was played by Alan Rickman in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. (1991) Boo. Hiss.

 7.) Gordon Gecko: in Wall Street.  First of all, lovely name. Second, greed isn’t good and if you shuddered when he gave his famous iconic speech, we are of the same generation. The oily hair helped make him a repulsive character.

6.) Fagen, from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. He did take in those street kids and teach them a trade.  However, anyone who hurts children is a surefire villain. Unfortunately, we read about people like him in modern times.

5.) Boyd Crowder: The smooth-talking bad boy in Justified. (On the FX channel.) This character is taken from a book by Elmore Leonard called Fire in the Hole. Boyd is complicated because he is likeable and has good traits, (and is a hunk with great hair) but the bad things he does are really bad, leaving a fan dazed and confused about whether Boyd should be punished for his crimes.

4.) Grinch: We laugh at his antics but the message is clear.

 3.) Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz: Again a villain who wants to harm children. Her laugh gives me the chills Bad dreams are made of this.

 2.) Inspector Javert: In Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo, no amount of sympathetic backstory makes up for this dude’s obsession with Jean Valjean, the man who stole a loaf of bread to feed his nephew and served out his prison sentence.

 Number 1. None other than the devil himself.The master Villain.Ironically, just the thought of him interfering in our lives forces us to be good.

Thanks, Sarah. I agree. Great villains make great stories and you’ve named some memorable ones.

You can read more about Sarah at

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 8, 2013 2:58 PM

    Great list. I’m a fan of Maleficent from Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. She’s an elegant villain with a great hat. 🙂

  2. June 8, 2013 8:32 PM

    It really is a great list, Sarah. I have to add Shakespeare’s Iago. The way he planted seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind was both brilliant and diabolical.

  3. June 9, 2013 11:39 AM

    Yes, memorable villains add spice (and conflict) to our books! Interesting post, Sarah!

  4. June 11, 2013 8:00 AM

    Love your list. Alan Rickman put both the Sheriff of Nottingham and Professor Snape on my list. There are some good ones in contemporary novels too. You’ve made me start thinking about them and what makes them so good.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: