Writing Process: Villains

Villain Inspiration

Nightmares and experience are typically where my villains are born. Particularly demons. Dominus in Cursed by Cobrador was from a nightmare I had where I was protecting my ex-husband’s soul from being collected by this buff, puss-yellow demon of wrath and savagery.

Dominus. Copyright © 2021 Danny Raye. All Rights Reserved.

Helizar comes from an experience of oppression. When I was suffering a panic attack one night remembering how my ex-husband threatened me and claimed he’d beaten people bloody, I crumbled to my knees and felt pressure on my back like something was holding me down. In my mind’s eye, I saw this solid black form pressing its foot into my back and leaning its upper body weight on its knee to keep me down. And thus Helizar was born.

Helizar. Copyright © 2021 Danny Raye. All Rights Reserved.

Ghosts are often inspired by frightening first hand experiences. I grew up in paranormally active houses, and I always thought it would be awesome to be able to fight what kept me up at night. A lot of the ghosts I write in fight scenes are based on those personal encounters, or Pinterest posts, or things I’ve seen on Nuke’s Top 5. I see these ghost videos all over the internet, and my first instinct is, “How cool would that ghost be in a fight scene?”

Villains Must Be…

The simplest way to describe how I create villains is this: they must be enemies I would NEVER want to face.

Because my villains portray the ways of the Devil, they must be:

  • Merciless
  • Inhumane
  • Incapable of love
  • Condemned to hate
  • Fearful only of God

Villain Consistency

Because my villains are demons or hellspawn, they don’t develop and transition. To keep them realistic to the Bible, they must only remain consistent. Demons will never turn into good guys. The vessels they possess might, but the demon itself will always be a character of loathing, strength, and blaspheme. So when writing villains, my goal is to make sure those villains are always being ruthless and seizing the opportunity to destroy God’s children. That there is no mercy, which is hard because if a main character gets into a tight spot with a demon, the demon WILL kill them. It’s a fine line to walk, but I’d do it any day to educate readers on the true nature of the demonic.

Ghost Villains

In my writing, ghosts are the spirits of sinners that have crossed over into Purgatory, or the Afterlife as some call it. Because everyone is a sinner, all spirits go to Purgatory after death. But how long a spirit stays is dependent on how they repent, and how deep into sin they’ve delved.

Again, writing these characters is limitless so my goal is to keep them consistent. Some characters, like Victor, can transition throughout their Afterlife. Others remain set on sin, so I have creative freedom to choose. Writing ghost villains really just depends on what the book needs.

Human Villains

The antagonists in my books that are humans are more than likely based off of real villains I know. Like Cobrador who embodies the narcissistic traits of my ex-husband. The human villains I write are not primary villains, typically. I want all of the focus to be on the Devil and how he oppresses our lives. Not to say that people can’t be evil to one another because even though it’s the Devil’s persuasion behind our sin and mistreatment of each other, it’s our CHOICE that commits the act. I drive that motto into all my human villains.

Demon Villains

I am a huge sucker for villains written properly. ESPECIALLY demons written properly. I have yet to read a book that executes the nature of the demonic according to the Bible, so I’ve written it.

Majority of demons written into literature or featured in television shows often have a humanitarian side, or they fall in love with the main character, which is not only misleading but downright impossible. Angels never had humanity to begin with. They are beings of obedience, created to serve God, and Lucifer was cast out for rebelling. During his fall, Satan was stripped of God’s grace. Lucifer fell to eternal darkness and became a creature of all the darkest emotions we know: wrath, lust, jealousy, hatred, mercilessness. Satan and his hellions are incapable of producing anything positive. Anyone’s who brushed paths with Hell knows how silly it is watching these damned angels portrayed as the good guys. Real demons don’t have British accents and develop a conscience like Crowley in Supernatural. Real demons hunt your soul and will crush your health, sanity and heart to get to it.

Villain Names

The name of a villain is chosen based on how it FEELS to call the character by it. For example, Dominus’ original name was Delavno. Not only was the name hard to pronounce, but it didn’t properly identify the demon. Dominus Mortis is Latin for “master of death” which not only matches the demon’s power as a necromancer, but matches the look of the demon itself.

I would say choosing a villain name falls under these choices:

  • I made it up by combining names or adjectives describing the character. Like Helizar being derived from “hell” and the suffix of most demonic names “zar”. Add a vowel in between to scoop the two words and you have Helizar.
  • Tertiary villains are named after real douchebags I’ve met.
  • The name has a meaning that matches the character’s power/personality.

When it comes to demons specifically, I try to avoid actual demonic names. By reading these names and speaking of the character, it feels like I’m promoting the actual beast. Glorifying them, even. And I don’t want readers speaking the names of demons. Satan deserves no more attention than the raising of awareness of his intentions and methods of attack.

Villain Motive

The best part about writing demonic villains is that their motive is always the same: to turn our souls from God through sin.

For humans, though, I try to choose a motive behind why a character chooses sin in a way that can teach a lesson about God. For instance, some characters choose sin and never repent like the Tall Lady who slashed her toddler’s throats for selfish peace. Even in her afterlife as a ghost, she continued in sin and ultimately chose Hell instead of salvation. Through her character, I’m able to teach how being damned to Hell is a choice, and how repentance works to absolve sin.

The motive as to why a character is villainous is essentially their backstory, and not all villains need one. Like Eidolon who’s a sheet ghost enslaved by Dominus. We don’t know who he was when he was alive or what sin he chose to be condemned to Hell. We only know that evil is his choice seeing as how he was summoned from Hell where he was damned for who he was in life.

Eidolon. Copyright © 2021 Danny Raye. All Rights Reserved.

Villain Details

When designing demons/human villains I never choose specifics about their appearance or powers at random. My thought process looks something like this:

Oh, wouldn’t it be awesome if Helizar had massive wings? That would be so cool!

Okay, but how can we turn that around and use it to teach about God?

Well, he’ll use his wings to block out the light and to bring darkness. A perfect depiction of how Satan oppresses his victims.

That question is the source of every detail in my book: How can it point back to God?

God is the reason I write. My purpose, as told to me by God in a dream, is to be the “bringer of the Word of God to the people”. So in everything I write, I want readers to see God. Even when the demons are mightiest in the book, God is there in that battle through Anja, through all my exorcists, through sheer faith alone.

When designing villains, I make sure that everything about them has a purpose to properly depict traits of the Devil. It’s not just to look cool. The Sorority Sisters are going to have a face mask with horns because yeah, it looks hella cool but also because those horns remind you of Satan.

The Sorority Sisters. Copyright © 2021 Danny Raye. All Rights Reserved.

The entirety of the villain Cobrador is that he’s unreachable because of his empire, but when stripped down from his henchmen, his wingmen, and the demon possessing him, Cobrador himself is just an immature, selfish boy in a man’s body. Even THAT depicts how Satan portrays himself as this grandeur enemy and yet, is but a serpent at our heels.

How do you design villains? Read any good books about demons? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading!

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