I Know Where You Live: Adding The Creepy To Your Villain

Fear is one thing I understand too well. Maybe that’s why I’m a romantic suspense writer. I can imagine all of the danger in everyday things. From dark parking lots to meatloaf, my imagination can run wild.

Although, my husband wasn’t too excited when I mentioned that I couldn’t use the washing machine. You know, that whole ‘do not use heavy machinery while taking this medicine’ label. A girl can try.

But seriously, the best suspense novels have creepy villains. The ones that make your skin crawl and your heart pound.

How can you make your villain more creepy?

*Give your villain a den of iniquity. This first tip I got from author Rachel Hauck. Give your villain a place to go to showcase their wickedness and plot their evil. A shack in the woods, a basement, an attic. Somewhere you can make the objects surrounding the villain more creepy. Then be sure to mention the creepy setting in developing the mood for your scene.

*Make your villain arrogant. On the psychological level many villains feel they are invincible or better than their prey. By showing this side of them, it adds to their profile. They look down on others as being inferior through their thoughts and actions.

*Make your villain powerful. This tip I learned from Susan May Warren. You need to show the strength and power of your villain to make it feel like the danger is real and difficult to overcome for the hero/heroine.

*Set A Creepy Mood. This can be done by the noticed objects, lighting, sounds, weather and location of the villain.

*Put the villain in close proximity to the hero/heroine. The closer the better. Have the villain leaving threats, watching the hero/heroine or brushing up with them in everyday life. It is especially creepy to have the villain in an everyday setting with the hero/heroine, but they are unaware of the villain’s identity.

*Research the FBI profile of your villain. You can search online to find the FBI profile for different types of offenders. These can be helpful in building a believable and creepy villain.

*Villains do creepy things. In setting up the history or current life of a villain, be sure to include one or two creepy behaviors. Cleaning their teeth with a knife blade. Carving initials in their arm. Or even actual crimes.

*Villain verbs. Use verbs in your villain scenes that have a nuance of danger or evil. Make a verb bank to draw on in your villain scenes to make sure that you utilize power words.

What villain qualities in novels or movies creep you out?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

14 thoughts on “I Know Where You Live: Adding The Creepy To Your Villain

  1. These are really great tips and I even got a little chill reading them! I love the idea of checking the FBI profile. What greater inspiration than to base your villain off a true villain??

  2. Ewww, great ideas! Love them.
    The villains that scare me the most are the good-looking ones that appear more normal than me, but on closer scrutiny have OCD and are over-the-top clean.

  3. You are a girl after my heart!!! Love the way you portray villains. And great tips on writing them. Alas, we are packing up to leave Deep Thinkers. It has been awesome and missed you so much, Michelle!

  4. I think the most frightening of villains have no real reason for why they do the heinous things they do. Questions of why? ease my mind. Just filthy stinking evil scares me.

  5. Michelle Lim says:

    Evil is something that speaks through the words on the page. Sometimes we try to find a way to explain it, or at the least understand it. Sometimes, evil is just pure evil. Oh, and the whole mother relationship issues….EWWW!

  6. jaimewright says:

    How do you paint the den of iniquity or arrogance if your villain is unidentified until the end of the book 🙂 ??

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Great question, Jaime! Sometimes you show the villain’s POV without identifying them. We spend some time in their head and see where they go to plot, plan, or reminisce about their crime. If you don’t have their POV, you can show it through the investigator finding their lair later in the book, or pieces of what would be in their lair…like a token from the victim, or something like that.

  7. Make the villain smart. I can’t stand dumb villains. What I loved about Zodiac was how he was one step ahead of the cops. That made him creepy. Same with jack the ripper. In all those super hero movies like The Avengers, they are only as good as the villain. Loki was s well written villain. The Joker wasn’t rich or even powerful… but he was smart. And he was believable!

    • Michelle Lim says:

      I’m with you, Ruth! The brilliant villains are so creepy because they can outsmart a lot of the good guys. It takes a special talent in a hero/heroine to overcome them.

  8. elisekstahl says:

    Creepy villains to me are the ones that get too close to the heroine, like when they put their finger under her chin or put their face right next to hers or come right up behind her and whisper in her ear. It gives me chills; those are the creepiest bad guys when they can get rightupclose because they know nobody’s going to stop them.

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