I recently received the most wonderful review on my newest book. I was pleased as punch with it. The only negative was the reviewer thought my villain was too mean. I’d never before thought about the possibility of a villain being too mean, but after reading this review, I saw that for some people it could be a turn off.
My villains are always different and for the most part super mean. In my suspense thriller, NO EXIT, there is the villain and the totally evil, without redemption person who works for him. In this story, the villain is a respectable member of society with a dark side. So the reader gets to know both sides of this character, the good and the bad. As far as villains go—this one is my favorite to date. I do wish I’d toned down the violence a little in that book in order to appeal to a wider audience, but I think the villainous character is perfect.
I’ve been asking everyone I know what they prefer in a villain and I’ve gotten answers ranging from, “I don’t like villains, I like to read about good people” to “The more evil, the better”. I guess it goes back to the old saying about not being able to please everyone. As writers, we want to please our readers while staying true to the story we wish to tell. A few writers have told me they don’t care whether or not anyone likes their story because they wrote it for themselves. That may be well and good, but for a writing career, eventually someone else will need to appreciate and enjoy reading what you’ve written.
It’s the rare writer whose first manuscript is honed to perfection before reaching an editor’s desk, but with each successive book we improve our writing skills. I think it’s the same with readers. Through their feedback we learn to successfully straddle that line between what we want to write and what readers want to read. Will we eventually be able to please everyone? No, and we shouldn’t try. That’s what’s so wonderful about books and the characters living within their pages, they are as different as the readers who read them.
As for the villains in all those books—I love them all, super mean or not.
E. G. Parsons