Last Word

The road to Hell is paved with great villains


Go to Heaven for the climate; Hell for the company.

–Mark Twain

As usual, the venerable Samuel Clemens has cleverly and succinctly hit upon such truth. Go to Hell and just think of all the deliciously demented personalities you might find there — Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, maybe even Bonnie and Clyde.


Flickr: Matthias Ripp

Imagine such a scene of history’s biggest villains gathered at the bar in Hell, swilling a sip of blazing whiskey and swapping stories of destruction and all sorts of wickedness.

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As a writer, wouldn’t you just love to delve into their distorted minds? Learn their motives? Discover their secrets? See their misdeeds and regrets divulged?

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This is something to consider when crafting your own villains for your novel or short story. The bad guys are actually not all bad. They are a complex combination of violence and tenderness, vulnerability and ego. They are typically adept at drawing a crowd with their vitality and charm. They are often the kind of man or woman with whom you wouldn’t mind tossing back a drink, or kicking up a party. They are charisma personified.

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Does your antagonist know how to have a good time, all the while drawing unsuspecting souls into his dastardly plots? Does she have the kind of personality that thrills and enthralls those around her, as she schemes for fame and fortune?

Examine your villains closely today and determine whether or not they are the types of characters that others would be drawn to and fascinated by. What makes them compelling? And would your readers chance a glimpse of Hell just to seek what makes them tick?

Kerri S. Mabee is managing editor at and founder of Breeze Media & Communications. Learn more about her at



Kerri S. Mabee

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