Psychopathic traits for writers creating villains

Psychopathic traits for writers creating villains


This is just a short post on something I recently stumbled across. In my research to create just the right villain I found myself watching the following fascinating documentary about psychopaths:

Made by the BBC it discussed the characteristics of psychopathy. As a writer, one of the key things that came out of this for me was the checklist of characteristics common to psychopaths. This checklist of traits provides me with attributes to give my villains. Before I go further, yes I know that not all murderers/villains are psychopaths. I also know that not all psychopaths are murderers/villains. But for the sake of the story that I am crafting I will assume that my villain Kerphulu is indeed a psychopath.

The checklist was developed by Canadian psychologist Robert D Hare in the 1970s. The checklist as I type it here is taken from Wikipedia (support Wikipedia please, it is a great resource).

The First set of characteristics (Factor 1) are:

“Facet 1: Interpersonal

Facet 2: Affective

  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Emotionally shallow
  • Callous/lack of empathy
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions

The second set (Factor 2) are:

Facet 3: Lifestyle

  • Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Lack of realistic, long-term goals
  • Impulsivity
  • Irresponsibility

Facet 4: Antisocial

As a writer I look at these and see so much potential for a complex and fascinating villain. Hare adds a couple of other factors outside of these being promiscuity and the inability to maintain long term relationships. It really makes me wonder why so many villains tend to be one-dimensional.

Also, as a bit of progress on my actual writing…

I have decided to take a piece of my novel and place it in the short story that I am going to submit to the anthology. It was a scene where my villain crosses blades with another villain. As the novel grew so the scene became increasingly redundant, and yet I liked it and knew not what to do with it. Sometimes we must remove scenes that we have written and like, but waste not want not.




    1. I like you. You make me laugh. I kill you last.

      (as quotes go, an oldie but a goody)


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