Hi! I am not too sure if this is okay to ask, seeing as it doesn’t really have to do with writing, but how can I make a villain that is threatening while also making them have a pastel/cutesy theme? Especially if it’s a guy or someone who is masc. presenting. I want him to be threatening, but I’ve had some writer friends ridicule me for it. Thanks!


Hey Atlas, great to hear from you again!

In general, a villain is threatening based on what they do rather than their aesthetics. This is especially true in prose stories, where readers can only imagine what the villain looks like. There might be some edge cases, like not giving your villain smeared makeup, but even that’s more about making them look like someone who can competently apply makeup rather than the actual aesthetics.

In the vast majority of cases, you make your villain threatening by giving readers the impression the villain could win. You can do this by giving the villain magic powers, skilled minions, etc., but the most effective way is for the villain to win a few rounds against the hero. If they do that, then their pastel wardrobe won’t really matter.

That said, there are two other things to consider. The first is that when some people say “cutesy,” other people hear “annoying.” In most stories, you don’t want your villain to be annoying. So, it’s best to avoid giving them childlike traits like immaturity or lack of impulse control unless you have a very good reason for doing otherwise.

The other thing to consider is that villains are often queer coded, so having a male villain who dresses flamboyantly can actually end up re-enforcing negative stereotypes. This isn’t always a problem if you have plenty of queer characters but similar identities to the villain, but if the cast is mostly straight and following traditional gender aesthetics, I wouldn’t recommend a pastel male big bad.

Hope that answers your question, and good luck with your writing!

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