Villains by Diane Burton

Cynthia, thanks so much for having me here today.


switched-resolution_2Everybody writes about heroes so I thought I’d be different. I love a good villain. Okay, I really hate evil, but I enjoy stories and movies with good villains. A “good villain” sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? What I mean is that the villain is strong enough and clever enough to challenge the hero. And he always thinks he’s smarter.

A good villain should have a reason for doing bad things. He’s out for revenge for some horrible incident that happened either to him or to a loved one, or she’s trying to right a wrong. Although the last might be laudable, his method of going about it isn’t. I know there are evil people in real life, as well as in fiction, who do evil deeds because they can or for fun (their idea of fun). I don’t enjoy reading about or watching those bad guys. Hannibal Lector creeps me out to the point that I won’t ever see Silence of the Lambs. The trailers were enough, thank you very much. I know some people like psychological dramas about psychotics. Not me.

Since movies are more universally recognized, I like to use them as examples. Some of the villains in James Bond movies were quite good—others were just weird (A View to a Kill). World domination (Never Say Never)? That seems so extreme it’s hard to believe. Greed (Goldfinger)? Hey, we see that all the time in the headlines, especially after the 2008 financial meltdown here in the U.S. Revenge (License to Kill, Goldeneye, and Skyfall)? Very understandable.

I really like a story where the bad guy isn’t revealed until the end. For that reason, I love mysteries and suspense. It’s fun to see if I can catch the misdirection and not be taken in by it. I like to match wits with the author and see if I can figure out the bad guy before s/he is revealed. A movie that had me guessing right up until the end was Charade. Even though you’re supposed to believe one person is the villain, come on. Cary Grant as a bad guy? I don’t think so. Or how about a bad guy whom you’re led to believe is helping the good guy (or woman)? Wait Until Dark was scary because the viewer knew who the villain was, but the heroine didn’t.

Because I enjoy sci-fi movies, the all-time bad guy on my list is Darth Vader. He seems so totally evil in Star Wars IV: A New Hope. Gradually, starting in The Empire Strikes Back, you see he still has a bit of a conscience when he tries to bargain with the Emperor for Luke’s life—“He’s just a boy” and “If he could be turned . . .” While I have to say I didn’t enjoy the second three movies (the prequels), George Lukas did such a good job showing Anakin/Vader’s descent into the Dark Side that he was understandable. Now if only he hadn’t killed the younglings . . .

How do things end for the bad guy? The hero defeats him, of course. Up close and personal. No sniper shot knocking off the villain. It’s a down and dirty fight to the finish. In Bond films, the end is often spectacular and gruesome (Live and Let Die or Tomorrow Never Dies). But sometimes the villain can be redeemed as in The Return of the Jedi. I wanted to stand up and cheer when Vader picked up the Emperor and threw him down the reactor shaft. A fitting end to a truly evil villain. And redemption for a bad guy. Did saving his son make up for all the evil he’d done? That’s a question best left to those who ponder morality. It made for good fiction.

Defeating bad guys makes good heroes. If your hero isn’t Bond (who always wins), s/he has to grow from the beginning of the story to the end. At the beginning, the hero isn’t strong enough. Watching the hero as she tackles smaller feats and grows more confident until she can stand up to the villain makes the story more satisfying. Think about Luke Skywalker in the first Star Wars movie. Eager, green, he would have been destroyed immediately if he’d encountered Darth Vader. Only by going through various trials—each more difficult than the previous—that he is strong enough with the Force (and his own confidence) that he can defeat the Emperor.

What do you think makes a great villain? Who in books or movies exemplifies this?

Blurb for Switched Resolution:

Actions have consequences as Space Fleet Captain Marcus Viator and NASA reject Scott Cherella discover when they switched places. Does the reserved Marcus have what it takes to imitate his smart-aleck twin? Despite help from his love Veronese, Scott’s already been outed by two of Marcus’ best friends.

When rebels steal the ship with part of the crew aboard, Scott has to rescue them and retrieve the Freedom. The stakes increase when he discovers the rebels are heading for Earth. They know he’s a fraud and they want Marcus. The safety of the Alliance of Planets depends on Scott and his allies.

Switched Resolution, which wraps up the Switched series, takes the reader from Earth—where Marcus adjusts to a pregnant Jessie—to the starship Freedom commandeered by rebels, to the chase ship with Scott and Veronese aboard.

Switched Resolution is available at Amazon and Smashwords.

See Diane’s website for Diane’s other books.


Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. She is the author of the science fiction romance Switched and The Outer Rim series. With One Red Shoe, soon to be published by The Wild Rose Press, she takes her writing in a new direction into romantic suspense. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.

Diane can be found around the Internet at:
Goodreads: Diane Burton Author

6 thoughts on “Villains by Diane Burton

  1. I cheered when Darth Vader killed the Emperor. Villain’s can make or break a story. I like your twins being in switched positions in Switched Resolution. It makes the book’s hero even more uncomfortable and more at a disadvantage. Good technique.

  2. I agree Jessica. I’ve been reading a lot of books where that’s true. In a way, the Alliance of Planets could be the villain in the Switched books. The customs and regulations drive the antagonists to do what they did.

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