There is no battle that is waged over a wider range of fields than that between the hero and the villain. From horror to humor, romance to thrillers, they come in many guises but they are always there.
We have real heroes, anti-heroes, tragic heroes and heroes as a result of circumstance. Villains with purpose, villains with a history connecting to the hero, world domination seeking super-villains and those villains that are also a rather tragic victims of their circumstances. Obviously, there are a great many more types of both that I could list, but I fear this post would never be finished. Plus, listing the options that are available to you when choosing both characters for your novel is not what this post is about. (although, note to self… it could be a good post for next week.)
No, the question I want to raise is about writing these two characters. The question itself is simple. Who do you prefer to write?
I can certainly see the charm in writing the Hero, I mean he is the champion. The fan favorite. Your hero is the character that is responsible for the happy ending, or at least for putting up the good fight. He stands up for what is right, he defends the weak and will risk his own lives for the other characters. Maybe not in a literal sense, but certain in a figurative sense of the phrase. Ok, heroes can be flawed, they can have a hidden darkside, but still, when compared to the villain, they are the without doubt, the good guy.
But come on, writing the villain is just great fun.
Personally, I think writing a villain is a more liberating thing for a writer, because with villains, the gloves can come off.
Take even the most flawed hero in literary history, and you will see that the writer didn’t go too far. You can’t. (You could argue that the anti-hero is a hero pushed too far, but even then there are limits, because there has to be something stopping the anti-hero becoming a villain.) Whereas the villain, he doesn’t have to be bound by a moral code. He can do what he wants when he wants. He’s the bad guy after all. The reader is supposed to hate him. To want to see him fail.
Ok, I admit, there is a level, and boundary for both character, but for the villain that boundary is the plot of the novel itself. His actions cannot be too extreme for the type of novel he is in. Other than that, world domination is his oyster.
What do you think? Is is more fun to write a hero or a villain?