There are much more than three types of villains I’m going to discuss in the following few blogs, but many infamous villains can be sorted into one of these categories. There’s also some overlap, and many villains can fit into more than one category.
The Evil Genius
Subcategories of evil genius include the mad scientist, the hacker, and the magic adept. Sometimes they are the ones who make the murderous technology used by criminal organizations, or they could be the designers of doomsday devices. On the other hand, their area of expertise might be politics or manipulation, leaving them the leaders of cults or malevolent armies. Evil geniuses are a fun addition to a story, and they make worthy foes, but they can be tricky to write.
High-intelligence characters take a lot of research to write. Chances are, you’re not an expert hacker or an accomplished bioterrorist. But, you’ll have to think like one and have their knowledge to write the evil genius. I suggest reading at least a few books in the antagonist’s area of expertise, particularly ones by experts in their field. Not only will this give you a good knowledge base, but you will also get to know how someone in that field thinks and moves through the world.
Nothing is more annoying than an easily foiled supposed genius. A genius should be more intelligent than all the other characters. Your protagonist can’t outsmart them; they’re going to have to find a weakness. Like every other aspect of the character, your antagonist’s weakness should make sense to their character. You should know or write it into your backstory notes, even if it doesn’t make it into the story.
Maybe your evil genius is physically weak from a childhood illness, which leads him to focus on science above all else. Perhaps your studious wizard is socially inept after living as an outcast, so he can’t read people to tell when they’re lying. Both the genius’s strengths and failings should match the character.
Evil Genius in Literature
Tywin Lannister in Game of Thrones built an empire on his political and financial savvy. He was also a solid military strategist. His weakness was his cruelty, particularly to his family members, whom he kept physically close.
Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series was of the master mage family of evil geniuses. He had the same weakness that any litch has, the vulnerability of his phylactery.
The Sherlock Holmes nemesis Professor Moriarty is the brilliant boss of a criminal empire. His only real weakness is the existence of Holmes, who is the sole match for his intelligence. Moriarty and Holmes offer a notable exception to the rule that the protagonist should not outsmart the evil genius.
More Blogs in this Series: