Following on from my post yesterday where I talked about what character is more fun for a writer to work on; the Hero of the Villain, I want to now ask which character is more important to a story.
It was clear from the multiple reactions I received, that writing a villain is the more enjoyable. I felt so, and feel oddly pleased that other writer feel the same way.
This new questions is more like one of those questions you used to be asked in English lessons at school. There is no right or wrong answer, it is all subjective. That is in part, what I want to ask it. I am intrigued by learning more about the writer psyche.
Which character do you think is more important to the story. The Hero / Heroine or the Villain.
There are clear pro’s and con’s for each side of the answer. Of course a Hero is important because they drive the story. They are the good guys, the represent not jus the hero(ine) of the tale being told, but are the embodiment of good overcoming evil. The good guys are always supposed to win, right?
But then again, who good is a strong hero if he / she doesn’t have a tough as nails villain to come up against. Villains are supposed to be the touch guy, whether they believe they are justified in their cause of not, the fact is that the Villain puts up a fight.
I guess the type of novel you are writing should also be taken into consideration, as in a romantic novel, the build up of the hero and heroine is more important. The villain is more inconsequential as the tale is about the romance. While in a horror or an adventure book, where the villain itself may not necessarily be something 100% human, there is an added importance to fully develop this character.
Often, the hero is the main character, even if they and the villain are equally described and used, the hero is always the show stealer. Not because Good conquers Evil, but because the book is often written more from the perspective of the good. Maybe there is a need for novels to look more at the villains perspective, to show them in their daily life, their relationships, or rather, as you would have it, their lack of relationships with those around them. Show the hero as the outsider, maybe not coming to save the day, but to ruin it. Suddenly, when viewed from this perspective, the Villain is the more central character.
Ultimately, one cannot survive in a novel with the other. Undoubtedly this is why most novels end with the demise of the villain (or hero) or soon thereafter. However, I am of the personal belief that no matter how well-developed and how incredibly well written your hero is, he is ultimately nothing (again this is will vary from genre to genre) without a villain of some sorts to come up against. Whether it is a demon, a serial killer, a “dark passenger” or just some hidden parts of their own character. That fact alone, makes the villain the more important of the two characters.