Do you have any advice on how to make characters (villains or not) truly despicable? How to make sure they will be hated with a passion by the readers?
Thanks in advance.
Without other story constraints, making audiences hate a character isn’t difficult. Since you haven’t specified what this character will be used for, I’ll assume what you want is for your audience to enjoy seeing this character have a horrible horrible death. If you don’t have a bad end planned for the hated character, put the brakes on this, because you can’t redeem a character that’s hated that much by audiences.
Ok, so the key to this is giving the character really bad karma.
First, the character should do super morally bad things. For maximum impact, the audience should see the character harm something they care about. If the villain harms a character the audience has gotten to know and love, such as the protagonist, it will probably have the most impact. (Harming the cute and innocent also works, but audiences are more likely to quit the story if they see that because it’s so unpleasant for them.) Making the character a raging bigot is quite effective, though keep in mind the effect is not evenly distributed – whoever they are bigoted against will dislike them more.
Second, the character shouldn’t be facing any kind of consequences for their bad deeds. In fact, most people love and worship this person! The character is wealthy and wildly successful. They get away with their bad deeds easily. To top it off, they’re super arrogant and smug about it.
When the protagonist finally defeats a character like this, audiences will be happy to see it.
- Understanding Character Karma
- Five Ways to Make People Hate a Hero
- The Three Traits of Annoying Characters