Sunday, November 6, 2011

The psychopath test - a handbook for writing villains

How do you know if someone is a psychopath? It's easy, really. You just ask 20 questions and voilà, you have a result! Ok, so maybe it's not that simple in real life - nothing ever is. But that doesn't mean it won't help in our writing.

Do you have trouble writing a chillingly realistic villain? Try using the psychopath test. I'm sure including a few of these into his or her personality will up the scary factor.

How 'bout number 6 - a lack of remorse or guilt. What's creepier than knowing someone will have no second thoughts about the vile acts they commit?

Pair that with number 4, pathalogical lying, number 9, parasitic lifestyle, or number 10, poor behavioural controls, and you're starting to get a pretty scary character. A number of the other 20 traits would add a subtler, but no less villainous, layer to a truly scary personality.

So what are you waiting for? Go build yourself a villain!

Do you ever find it hard to write realisic villains? Have you ever written a psychopath?

10 comments:

  1. Indeed I was. Way out of my norm. It was really interesting though! Gave me much food for thought.

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  2. Hope it's helpful next time you need to write the nasty type of character, Prue. Sounds like you were writing a bit out of your norm!

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  3. Yea, I think it will be helpful when I go to write my next super scary villain. :)

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  4. Thanks for sharing this Sari!
    I wouldn't have thought of doing a real, nasty, psychopathic villain - until the other day when I entered a crime short story competition. The main character had psychopathic tendencies so this would have come in really handy.
    Will put away for a rainy day. Thanks :D

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  5. thank you so much for sharing...................


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  6. Maggie Bunting HallJanuary 20, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    What a good idea! I'm going to have to check this out!

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  7. Very true, Brooke. But even in HP there was the many layered villain in Snape, and the truly villainy villain in Voldemort. I'd say Voldemort would tick many of the psychopath boxes. I think I'd enjoy writing both types of villain. :)

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  8. Glad it was interesting, Gwen! It's good to build a set of tools when you're a writer. :)

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  9. I think I would prefer to write a layered villain, such as Snape from Harry Potter who turned out not to really be a villain at all, than a psychopath who just does the things he does because he has no empathy. But that is an interesting way to astern the villainanyness of your villain.

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  10. Ooooh, thanks for the villany tips, Sari. This should come in handy!

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