Friday, March 30, 2012

A Recipe for a Dark Lord

In the last post, we talked about how to kill off our villains. However, that doesn't help anything if we don't have a villain to kill off in the first place!  Before we begin, though, why do you need a villain at all? 

Here's why: every story is only as good as its villain. The villain is the one who opposes the hero, who prevents him/her from meeting his/her goals. Without the villain, your story has no conflict—no purpose. Without the villain, your hero could do and have whatever he wanted, instantly, without any obstacles. Without a villain, your story would be--prepare yourself!--boring.

Okay, so you need a villain. That still leaves an important question: how does one go about creating a Dark Lord of the Universe? After all, sometimes it can get a little tough to think of a really evil villain on your own. That’s where this post comes in. I decided to mix and stir and bake an arch-evil-villain, so that all of you can read my recipe, be impressed by all the hours I spent slaving over a hot computer, and bake your own villains.

So, without further ado: a recipe for creating your very own Dark Lord.

4 cups goal
3 cups motivation
6 tablespoons backstory, sifted
2 handfuls minor villains
1.5 teaspoons weakness
½  cup accessories
1 pinch gold or lapis lazuli

Preheat the oven to 873 degrees Celsius (1,603.4 Fahrenheit).

In a large black bowl, combine goal, motivation, and backstory. Blend at light speed for ten minutes, until dough forms blackish lump. Should have the same consistency throughout

(Note: the villain should want something—his goal—that is directly opposite what the hero wants. Your villain must have a good reason for wanting this goal—a motivation. Usually, the motivation is not isolated in space and time, but is the result of the villain’s history and upbringing—his backstory. You need all three of these elements to make the villain believable.)

In a separate, smaller bowl, stir minor villains until thawed. Then quickly fold into the main batter until completely engulfed.

(Note: minor villains are important because your hero always, always, always needs opposition. Without opposition, there’s no suspense or tension or conflict in your story. In other words, it’s boring. But, hey, your arch-villain can’t be everywhere at once, can he? So that’s where the minor villains come in. Minor villains provide conflict against the hero in minor situations. Usually, they’re tied to the main villain and the main conflict of the story as well.)

Add the weakness and knead carefully, spreading weakness throughout the whole lump. This is a most delicate phase—too many weaknesses will make the dough fall apart, but too few will make it dry and fossilized.

(Note: in other words, your villain can’t be all-powerful. He needs to be relatable, and the way to do this is to bring in weaknesses. Often, you can find his/her weaknesses if you dig around enough in the villain’s past.)

Once weaknesses have been kneaded in, sprinkle accessories on top. This is the point in the recipe where you can add your own distinct flair: the curling walrus moustache, the pocketwatch that doubles as a sword, the bright red hair standing on end, or the evil villain cape of awesomeness, for example.

Bake for 1,095 days in the back burner of your mind. Remove from oven and let sit. Should be burned black around the edges.

If desired, add a pinch of gold or lapis lazuli for effect. Serve frozen or boiled in the lava of revenge.

Feeds 1 story.


  1. Great post!! I've used "minor" villains before but didn't realize their importance until now. You're right!! When the main villain isn't around, we need the minors to punch the hero/heroine.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Traci! Yeah, minor villains are definitely essential. What would Harry Potter be, for example, without Draco and Snape and all other minor evils? Or what would Lord of the Rings be without Saruman and Grima and Shelob and the balrog? It seems like all the best books tend to throw obstacle after obstacle at the hero, which of course makes readers want to read on!

      Thanks again!

  2. ha ha ha! I love the presentation of this post, although I would like to say that a great story doesn't have to have a villian, only man vs. man storied MUST have villian. In other storys such as man vs. enviorment or man vs. himself a villian can be the setting or the hero's dark past. I think a better way to put it is every story must have an oposing force. Although I think nothing beats a great villian! What child can forget The Wicked Witch or Captain Hook?
    ~Sarah F.

    1. True, and a very good point you have there, Sarah. A "villain" need not be human, but can be any obstacle the hero must overcome. I think in fantasy it's usual practice to have a villain or several villains of varying degrees of humanity (like Sauron, Saruman, Shelob, Grima, etc. in Lord of the Rings). Still, that doesn't mean we should stick to the cliche Dark Lords!

      You made a good point in favor of the villain, that a villain is more memorable. A book I read recently said it this way: "A villain is the personification of the danger that threatens your hero." And, later, "Personification concentrates the danger down to a single source and thus gives unity to a story. The personal villain can react to your hero's efforts and, through continuing attacks, sharpen and intensify conflict."

      In my own story-in-progress (which, ironically, is not a fantasy but a survival story), the main character doesn't have a villain to overcome, but must overcome the environment and herself. So I guess in story-writing there's room for all types!

  3. I love this post. I am so going to bake myself one of these.

    Minor villains are more important than I keep thinking they. You've really got me thinking of how I can add some more minor villains into my current story. Right now there's only The Big Bad running round. Yes, time to make things go wrong.

    Thanks for following my blog. It's always nice to meet new blogging friends.

    1. So glad you like it; thanks! I do warn you, though, that although you may follow the directions exactly, the taste may be a bit, well, villainous ;) . Certainly important, whether you have one villain or many, to keep hero on his proverbial toes!

      Sure, glad to! I agree; blogging friends are excellent :D .

  4. That is some excellent, BRILLIANT description! I've already baked a couple. Although it's slightly odd, since the main one has been around longer then the earth has been around :D Anyhowseth, well done. Thoroughly enjoyed :)

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! And ooh, I'm glad to see you've been busy baking ;) . Now that sounds like a very interesting main one.

      Thanks again for the comment!!


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