"Villain" Monologue in Novels...should you avoid it?

Hey there! :heart:

I’m writing that section of the book where the antagonist basically rants about what his plans were. And… I really don’t want to have a section like this. I never enjoyed reading or watching the “villain” monologues, and always wanted to skip them.

Ya'know, things like this.

“People try to predict who they want to become a Guardian. I haven’t seen it used in your City, but here, there is Prophecy magic. A couple will sometimes go to a Prophet Mage and find out when to have their child so that they’re born on a day of an Awakening. It doesn’t usually work.” He takes a deep breath. “I was one of the few who worked. My whole life has been here because my parents wanted to do what they thought was a good deed. They made me someone they wanted me to be, and I’m miserable with it. That’s why I started going Above. I want to… make it easier to bear. I feel like since I’m here, and I know how to fix it, I should. It’s the duty of those who know to help those who don’t. I’m sorry that people like you and Ayla have gotten caught up in this. But, it has to happen.”

But how do you show these backstory details and initial feelings leading up to what they’re doing without doing a monologue? xD I never intend on having the antagonist’s POV in the book, so I think that makes it harder. Tbh idk if this guy is even an antagonist. Basically everyone in this book is an antagonist :joy: In that case, does it make it okay to have the villain monologue? Or should I just not include his feelings and backstory?

Okay, and last question(s) (sorry xD):

If I have no choice but to do a monologue, lol, how do you make villain monologues interesting to read?? What are some good examples of villain monologues that you have read?

Perhaps the ‘protagonist’ is asking them questions to get them to give away their plan. It can be used as a tactic then.

Another Idea: take the villain monologue in the Incredibles. There he’s doing it to gloat, to show his superiority and to see the look of surprise on Mr Incredible’s face. That could be a motive :slight_smile:

2 Likes

Personally, if I ever became a villain, I’d totes do a villain monologue. I mean, I’d be super careful because that’s always when they escape and gain the upper hand, but they need to know how awesome I was at being a villain.

That’s my two cents. I write romance. I don’t really know what to put here.

7 Likes

I love villain monologues , but ones tvat explains their plans feels like it’s condescending to the audience.

I’d prefer them explaining why they are doing these things, or even better them belittling the heroes I love it

2 Likes

People often give villain monologues flack, sometimes for good reason. But I also believe it is everyone’s secret guilty pleasure. A good villain can make a story, I like to get into their mind and see what they think. Besides monologues are a fun way deliver exposition and possible twists. It’s a trope; not a flaw.

It’s all about what kind of monologue you write. It has to suit your villain or else it may fall flat or become silly. If you have a comedic villain then it’s easy, you can make it as wild and weird as you want. They’re a good way to get a laugh out of your audience.

However if you’re writing a more serious, mysterious antagonist you have to be more careful what you put there. Perhaps they can twist the truth around like some sort of true chaos magician. Or maybe something about it all still remains shady. Of course, it can also end in a massive pay-off if the villain was involved in a mystery. Lot’s of ways to do great things!

Of course it also depends at what part of the story you put the monologue, but I’m sure you get the justs of it.

5 Likes

It could something like the antagonist is almost trying to justify himself to the protag and readers, that he did all he had to do because he wanted xyz, that works sometimes and can even get some sympathy for the villain lol

2 Likes

I have a villain monologue in my book, but it’s part of a plot twist that he’s not actually the villain. I don’t mind villain monologues if they’re not like “all you have to stop me is push this here lever muhahaha.” If they’re not giving the secret to defeat the villain or pointing out the obvious, I love them.

1 Like

I just made my villain monologue into a dialogue. His evil plan is revealed through the course of the conversation with the protagonist rather than in one, long drawn-out rant. That way it comes across as more organic.

1 Like

One of the best villainous monologues to me is when then the Villain does one after already finishing their plan. Example:

-Villain X is ranting the classical, “we are not so different you and I, Protagonon!”
-Remembering the friends and the trials they’ve gone through, Protagonon breaks free from their “insert object preventing movement here” and proceeds to destroy Villain X with “insert power boost here”
-Progatogon goes on about how evil never wins, good prevails, etc…
-Villain laughs and proceeds to monologue over how the bomb went off 45 minutes ago.

2 Likes

Some of the best fantasy and action movies have villain speeches to counteract the heroes.

I mean, I wouldn’t drop the monologue entirely - but I agree with @ECCarrillo, that the best monologues tend to be after the villain believes they’ve succeeded. It gives the biggest punch, imo. And they get on that real arrogant streak, revealing / justifying why they deserve this, as if they need to convince the hero that they’re on the high ground. Alternatively, you can have them voice their opinions and reasons for doing things throughout the story, and then at the end, delve into the actual background of the character and what caused the SHIFT - a great opportunity for a plot twist or crazy reveal.

Unless you have a character who slowly devolves into a villain over time (in which you can show hints of backstory, motivations, and betrayal), I think a monologue is fine. Just don’t make it boring XD

3 Likes

Please feel empowered to avoid monologues in novels like the plague. Monologues are monologues. Novels are novels, not white papers or subject essays, or speeches, or research papers. Another word , equally to be avoided, is soliloquy. Shakespeare is dead now, and so is the soliloquy. In any case, he wrote plays.Try conversations, interactions, instead

Well, if you really mean a ‘villain monologue’ as a trope, then … it’s a trope that’s already pretty far gone into cliche. But if what you mean is: give the villain an opportunity to vent, reveal dastardly plans, gloat a bit, lament their defeat, etc., then sure - why not? Readers want it! The trick is just not to do it in the hackneyed old Disney ‘villain monologue’ way. There are plenty of other ways to do it.

Basically, if the goal is to make the villain interesting and objectionable, then you, the author, have at your disposal all the same tools as you have to make your protag interesting and sympathetic. Would you try to make your protag interesting and sympathetic by means of a ‘hero monologue’? (“Oh, wonderful me! How virtuous, how sympathetic!”) No way. You’d introduce snatches of their plans in internals and dialog throughout. You’d show their character through their actions and reactions. You’d show how others think of them through their reactions and actions. You’d show their effort through the results.

So, you can do the same with the villain and make them much more interesting and despicable than they could talk themselves into being.

I don’t understand why all monologues are bad all the time. Could you elaborate?

I think a villain monologue could work if the villain is gloating. I would recommend just don’t overdo it on the cheese factor or have this insanely long monologue.

1 Like

“Villain” Monologue in Novels…should you avoid it?

I mean … it is done …
giphy-facebook_s

2 Likes

I’m kinda in the same boat! I’m doing some outlining/drafting for a story, that will most probably be written in first person from the MC’s pov and I’m struggling to think of a way to unravel the villain’s backstory and the motive behind her actions.

But I find these monologues so terribly unnatural and staged and want to avoid it like the plague.

I dunno. I get what people are saying here, but I’ve played with the alternatives and I just find them way more terrifying than a monologue.

Summary

The antag’s backstory is pieced together as the MCs gradually meet characters who knew different sides of her, or knew her in different stages of her game. The MCs need to know why she’s doing what she’s doing in order to stop her, but they only have the taunting little details. It’s almost worse than knowing nothing at all.

The first time the MCs get unhanded by an enemy, he says two lines and then goes straight to “Okay, now I’ve got no more use for you” and pulls out a poison to finish them off. My most loyal reader got to this point and freaked out… like, ‘this kind of scene isn’t supposed to get to this point this fast’. But it did.

Second time the MCs get cornered, they’re annihilated and the enemies just leave with the one they intended to kidnap. Those particular enemies gain a reputation for ruthlessness, and are in some ways more scary than the real antag.

The one monologue I have is my a former enemy who’s dying and comes to ask a favour of the MC, whose best friend he nearly killed. It ends up a tear-jerker.

When the real antag catches an MC for something they don’t know yet, right at the climax of the series, she still won’t explain what her plan is because she’s self-absorbed and doesn’t consider him worth telling. That scene unfolds as that MC watches. I’ve given the reader all the necessary pieces at that point, so this is where it all comes together. It’s pretty epic.

To be fair, I have a quarter chapter flashback of the antag’s young life from her POV, but that only serves to establish what she used to be, leaving all of the questions of how she got to what she is now. Those take another three books (and a lot of clue-planting on my part) for the MCs to puzzle out.

There’s a reason my subgenre is Mystery :laughing:

Easy. Don’t just have them rant about what they are doing. Have them tell their audience why they are doing it as part of a persuasive argument. Either they are rallying their allies/underlings or trying to convince nonbelievers that their motives and actions are just.

Perhaps the best method is to avoid the monologue structure entirely. Break it up with actions and feedback from other characters as part of a conversation. Here’s how I had one of my antagonists explain her plan/actions in a recent work:

The Path to Enlightenment

“You have no need to feel guilt for your skepticism, Danna. Your open mind is right to question that which tempts you. You seek true enlightenment, and so you must discover the candor within your own heart. Did you know most of those in the Light bear none of my mana at all. They are called by their hearts alone. Now, tell me, would so many offer themselves to me of their own volition if my cause is not just?”

When Danna didn’t answer, Wu’laujan went on.

“Do you know why the Army of Light exists? It is because Darkness threatens the souls of the innocent. We are the sentinels who guard them against temptation, against sin, against damnation. We are the path to salvation; not a force of oppression from beyond the realm of humanity. We are a militia formed from the ranks of mankind, ever vigilant, ever prepared to hold the light that will guide the lost from the darkness of desolation. We will always be ready, because we will always be here.”

“But you’re trying to build a false utopia!”

“Oh? Are those your words or another’s?”

Danna swallowed a denial, knowing she was caught, but undeterred. “You say you want to help people, but my mother said that millions of people would have died in your last crusade. That’s why she had to stop you. If you’re trying to protect them, why would you do something to kill them?”

“Oh, my dear child, you do not understand. Mortal life is sacred and deserves protection, but it pales in comparison to the fate of the soul. The sanctity of the spirit must be preserved at all costs. In my vision, wickedness will be purged from the Earth by granting those tainted with demons a glimpse of purity. Upon embracing the Light, upon embracing goodness and wisdom, their souls will be cleansed. Only wretches of such vile heart who could never find a way out of evilness and darkness will be expunged from the world.

“Do you think it was an accident that I chose China to build my army? No, it was my design. China was my child. When I arrived, the people there were lost in nightmare, consumed by worship of meaningless gods. They had lost their way, but I gave them the discipline and technique they would need to fight the blackness that now threatens us all. They learned how to channel their spirits into a martial force.”

“You mean you started martial arts? But they’re so old.”

“More than that. It was not my time to fall, but I saw the Darkness coming. I formed a pact with my spirit council. They sacrificed their lives so that I, the strongest among us, could breach the barrier between our worlds. And so, I fell to Earth several thousand years ago. I fostered the culture of the Eastern world into a realm that would embrace the mission of the Light. I ignited their jiāodiǎn and gave them means to harness their spirit. I bred them into a people of focused mind with strict adherence to discipline, order, and code. The perfect soldiers to inherit the mana of Heaven. A unified force of single cogitation.

“Alas, my vision was halted by the yáng guǐzi. For him there was no forgiveness, but for your mother there is still hope. I call upon you to help her see the truth of my vision. China is lost to me for now, but here in the West, I find the people emboldened with a potent creativity and freedom of spirit that can be cultivated into a great power. It requires greater effort to unify them, but they may rise to become an inspired and diverse configuration of driven entity in time. Time we no longer possess. The Darkness has come.”

Wu’laujan sat for several moments, staring into space, and Danna didn’t know how to respond. The archon was obviously dedicated to her mission of helping the world, which didn’t seem unfounded to Danna anymore.

I think villain monologues are okay as long as the monologue has a purpose or literary function beyond exposition. If your villain monologue does nothing but explain things to the reader and nothing else, then I think you have a problem. Or if your villain explains things despite the fact that deep down you know it would go against his character. Bitch, why you revealing your plans? Idiot.

In the example you mentioned, it sounds like your antagonist is trying to convince the heroes of why he’s doing what he’s doing. Perhaps, if you were to reshape the monologue in such a way that he were to provide the heroes with an opportunity to join him in his cause. Maybe even provide a tempting offer to make up for all the crap that he’s done and have him be actually genuine about the offer, which would make the refusal that more conflicting.
That way, not only do you exposit information but by exhibiting his remorse you flesh out his character personality and development. Kinda like a ‘two-birds, one-stone’ kinda thing. (It doesn’t have to be remorse. You know your character better than I would).

In short, don’t just info-dump for the sake of info-dumping. Package that information with something that moves the plot along, like character development or something like it.