Monsters and Villains: What’s the Difference and When Do You Use Them?

Both bad guys and monsters are considered antagonists, however there are distinctions between the two. Youll want to select which variation of antagonist youre using based upon the function and tone of your story.

The Main Difference Between Villains and Monsters

The character arc of your protagonist is straight impacted by the bad guy, as it is by beasts, however in a more nuanced method. Protagonists can often be tempted by, or sympathetic towards, bad guys in a manner they cant be with monsters. When up against a bad guy are also more intriguing, character arcs for your primary characters.

While Sil does have a supportive background (she was made in a lab and her developers attempted to eliminate her as a child), shes not a sympathetic character in the tiniest. Shes single-minded and typically unnecessarily violent.

When to Use a Monster.

On the left side is a pure beast. The right side is a pure villain.

Your pure beast on the left has base inspirations, like breeding, feeding, and enduring. Theres no reasoning with a monster, as they have no compassion for you.

Now lets look at the ideal side of the spectrum and consider the inspiration of the pure villain. There is no ideal answer to the motivation of a villain. A bad guy is (generally) humanoid, and as such has a wealth of backstory, characteristic, and goals/desires. A villain is harder to establish since of this. You need to spend simply as much time considering them as you do your protagonist.

The Monster vs. Villain Spectrum


The essential difference between monsters and bad guys: motivation. What does your protagonists enemy want?

Since hes trying to consume you), theres extremely little in the way of describing a monsters backstory or worrying about his motivations (. The focus is on survival for the primary characters and their character arcs while doing so.

Monsters are, after all, “other” and more unsympathetic. Its easier for the protagonist to eliminate a beast.

Sil belongs in the middle, rather near the left/monster side of the spectrum, despite being humanoid in appearance the majority of the time. See, not every beast is monstrous-looking.

Examples: Jaws, The Blob, Alien. All of these beasts have the desire to eat and/or breed. They are a machine in that respect.

The most common character arc here is the primary character going from “weak” to “strong” in order to defeat the monster.

When to Use a Villain.

Bad guys bring tension to your story. Like beasts, they can also bring worry, but because their motivations are more cerebral and they tend to look human, pure worry is less typical.

Instead of focusing more on survival for your main characters, you can look at morality, wit, devotion to perfects, anything actually.

You probably believe this is a simple one. “Well, monsters are … monstrous. Bad guys arent.” This isnt rather proper. The concentration in this statement is on looks. Youre most likely considering size, shape, and “otherness.” However there can be “monstrous-looking” villains (Two-Face, for circumstances) and monsters that are humanoid (Sil, discussed later).

He also loathes the band of friends, is able to communicate without being violent, and vengeance plays a major part in his motivation to terrify the primary characters. Those are atrocious qualities. Pennywise goes in the middle of the spectrum as a great mix of villain and beast.

Examples: Hannibal Lecter, Voldemort, Nurse Ratched, Lex Luthor, the Joker, Darth Vader … I think you get the point. Villains are rounded characters with typically relatable and/or understanding characteristics.

His inspirations consist of feeding, but thats not the only thing he wants. Hes a complicated mix of monster and villain, so he goes in the middle.

The Spectrums Middle.

Note: Just because monsters have simplistic motivation does not suggest you dont need to put work into their development. Examine out this post on how to develop great monsters.

Now lets take a look at Pennywise, the clown from Stephen Kings It. Hes mostly inhuman in appearance (especially in the book), compulsively generates worry, and feeding is absolutely up there on his priority list. Those are checkmarks for the beast column.

You most likely consider inspiration with your protagonist, however do you do it with your antagonist? Otherwise, your antagonist is flat and uninteresting.

So youve got your pure monster to the left and your pure bad guy to the right. Whats in the middle?

A story utilizing a beast as an antagonist has lots of space for character advancement for your lead character. Utilize a monster when you desire to put a great deal of focus on your primary character and their battles.

Because monsters have rather simplified motivations, they include a hazard to a story and to your main characters. Theres a great deal of fear surrounding beasts, so they are far more common in horror stories than anywhere else. Not that bad guys cant influence fear, but the nature of a beast makes fear a more natural state.

The primary difference between monsters and villains is pretty easy: it all comes down to motivation.

( A device can likewise be a villain, by the method, though whether its a villain or a beast depends on how it happened. A sentient AI, for example, would be more bad guy. A rogue robot would be more monster.).

No matter what character youre composing (including B characters!), you need to always, always understand their inspiration.

One more example of somebody in the middle: Sil from the film Species. Sil is humanoid (shes alien DNA spliced with human DNA and considered very stunning), yet her motivation is to endure so she can breed.

Whats the Purpose of Your Story?

Are you desiring your main character to battle with their own morality? Do you want to establish an actually kickass creature to let loose on a town?

The function is where you must begin with every story. Simply put, whats your storys motivation?

What if its a little bit of all of the above? Then establish a villainous monster or a monstrous villain!

Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Establish your monster or villain. DONT FORGET THE MOTIVATION!

PRACTICE.

Today youre going to develop a villain. Initially, select whether you wish to develop a bad guy or a beast. (If youre opting for monster, definitely examine out this post on building great monsters. If youre opting for a villain, youll require backstory, character qualities, and so on).

Consider Frankensteins monster. Where do you believe he falls on the Monster vs. Villain Spectrum? Let me know in the comments!

Sarah Gribble.

Share your writing in the comments when youre done. Dont forget to comment on your fellow authors work!

The character arc of your lead character is straight impacted by the villain, as it is by beasts, but in a more nuanced method. Select whether you want to establish a monster or a villain. (If youre going for monster, certainly check out this post on structure terrific beasts.

Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of narratives that explore unpleasant scenarios, fundamental fears, and the general wonder and fascination of the unidentified. She just launched.
Enduring Death, her very first book, and is presently working on her next book.
Follow her on Instagram or join her e-mail list free of charge scares.

Your villain in every scenario is there to serve your story. Consider how you want them to serve your story, and the very best way to have them do so, before you begin writing and youll be well on your method to developing a remarkable story!

( A machine can likewise be a villain, by the method, though whether its a monster or a villain depends on how it came to be. Pennywise goes in the middle of the spectrum as a great mix of bad guy and monster.

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