Villains are not needed for a good story. In my books, I rarely portray truly evil villains on the scale of most others. Such people exist true, but generally they are suffering from a mental illness. Wouldn’t writing a story about a so called hero destroying a mad villain be the same as someone victimizing a person because they had depression or other mental illness? My protagonists aren’t evil because they are insane they are evil because they are selfish and greedy.
Using such "Mad" villains is not a realistic portrayal of the evil each of us are victims of, everyday evil. The impaired driver who causes accidents because he wanted to have a “good time.” The greedy business man who makes inferior products or destroys the environment for profit. The criminal who would rather steal or abuse others to get what he wants than to work for them. Those are the real villains, some of them are people we might know. They are not insane by the nature of what they are doing, they are selfish.
Whenever I hear people talk about the need for megalomaniacal villains in a book, it feels like an extension of some eastern religious philosophy. As if it requires and extreme evil person to bring out the extreme good of their hero.
To support my argument, I only need to point to the fact that people love team sports games. These have two generally good and talented groups of athletes competing for victory. Generally fans are more positive about their team, than they are negative about the other. It’s just a conflict of different viewpoints, often related to where people live. In my books, there are two sides, two viewpoints, and thus the conflict required to make the story interesting.
I detest the idea that as an author I am required to have a person who celebrates evil in my novels. Most people we label bad are not evil, they are usually selfish. Selfishness gets ignored nowadays but it is at the heart of much evil. Symptoms include road rage, stealing, racial hatred, immorality, and lying to justify themselves. Could it be that selfishness has become so common that people no longer see it as evil?
We are told things like “Greed is Good” or “Follow your Heart” so often they are accepted as the norm. Greed and selfishness are symptoms of a plague of culture based on pleasure seeking. A time when human society is in decline. We are forced to watch and endure it’s death throes. It’s long past its prime, and now cancer ravages what remains.
So my stories will contain some of this bad. But I will not make excuses for evil, I will not make you think its okay in certain circumstances to destroy other peoples lives to advance your own. It will not be okay to “follow your heart” if it tells you to take advantage of the weak, destroy, hurt, abuse or otherwise victimize others. I will try my best to show why such thinking is wrong and destructive. If that offends some then they might be the villain of their own story and don’t realize it.
Picture credit : By J.J. at the English language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4526281