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I can’t be the only one who is more interested in what a villain gets up to than the struggles of a goody-two-shoes hero.

We are taught from the time we are very small that we ought to be kind to others, aren’t we? That we shouldn’t take advantage of those weaker than ourselves? That it is wrong to cheat, lie and steal?

Of course we are. Of course it is right that we are. But when we write a story, we can have our ‘bad guys’ do anything we want them to do. We can have them commit audacious crimes, incite them to terrible deeds, and make them lie glibly through their teeth, all without any of the pangs of guilt a ‘normal’ person would feel.

We can make our creations do any, or all, of those things, without the risk of detectives knocking on our own doors.

The enduring appeal of a villain, from Count Dracula to Big Brother, Bill Sikes to Sauron, Moriarty to Voldemort, is his (or her) complete embodiment of evil in the story to which he belongs. Never sorry for his deeds, never tempted to mend his ways, he is the fascinating dark side of our own selves. Exploring this dark side within the safety of the covers of a book is a brave adventure.

A braver adventure still, though, would be the creation of a villain of your own. What heinous deeds could find their way from your brain to the page? Could you dare to explore the dark side?

Need Words launches its online membership site for writers of fiction and creative non-fiction in June 2017. If you would like to join my mailing list to be first to find out about how to join, including the special introductory offer, drop me a line at deanne@bestbookyoucan.com