Is Your Current Villain Ready to Be Your Next Hero?

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Karyn Connor

Senior Editor @ GoneWithTheWord

What’s the difference between a villain and a hero? The same thing that’s different between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: perception. 

A hero believes that he is good and on the side of good and will help achieve good. A villain believes the same thing. 

The main difference is in the character’s motivation. Good guys often are motivated by a goal that benefit more than themselves. Villains are motivated by their own agendas.

For example, a mother may be motivated to sever ties with the father of her child. For a hero this would be for reasons that would protect the child, for example if the father is abusive. For a villain, this would be for personal reasons such as her fury for his having left her. To the outside world though, both would present the same way since villains are rarely self-aware or honest.

So how do you tell the difference? By their stance. A hero will not portray herself as a victim. She will be aware of the negative circumstances that befell her, but talk about healthy plans to move beyond the anger.

An unredeemable villain cannot move beyond their anger, or the circumstances that knocked them down. And thus, they stay knocked down. These are the people who willingly wear the mantle of victim.

A redeemable villain is one who will eventually come to see that his previous beliefs about right and wrong were askew and will take responsibility for his own life’s journey.

For example, a friend left his wife almost a decade ago. She spent the next decade doing drive-bys, leaving notes on car his car, call bombing him, ringing the doorbell in the middle of the night and hitting on the ex’s father in hopes of generating some attention….You see where I’m going with this.

These types of people are one rabbit away from a Fatal Attraction impression.

If this were a novel she would either kill the rabbit and cement herself as the villain; or she would come to realize that her anger was destroying her—and not her ex as she hoped—and she would grow and move on. If she chose to grow she could be the hero of the next book. If not, she would need to be either physically or metaphorically removed by the end of the novel.

Beauty and the Beast and The Phantom of the Opera are essentially the same story. The main difference is when each is presented with an opportunity to change, only the Beast let go of the past and embraced a healthier and happier future. Phantom chose to remain stuck.

As Phantom’s ability to inspire fear waned, the reader is left with is the one emotion associated with villains who have played their last card: pity.

Redeem the villain through self-awareness and growth or leave her to be pitied by all and forever remain a victim of her own doing. 

#BeBold, by Karyn Connor is available noweBook and Paperback

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