Aside: Yes, this happened recently with a book that I was so excited to read and thought was a great debut novel... until the villains were exposed. Then it was just hokey. What a waste.
However, I understand that coming up with a complex, yet easily comprehensible, evil character can be difficult so I've gone ahead and pulled together a handful of villains, some more well known than others, that you can use, should inspiration fail to strike when you're trying to figure out how to shock and scare your readers. Copyright Rooth.
- Gargoyles, bulimics of the medieval age. These an author can operate almost like the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who - take your eye off of them, even to blink, and they move. Stand underneath one and you risk being crushed to death or at least drenched with rainwater.
- Most dangerous to church-going type protagonists, particularly those who frequent cathedrals
- Hungry ghosts, Chinese ghouls whose hunger / thirst can never be satiated, much like Tantalus. They roam the human realm, haunting kitchens of their friends and family. As a child, my mom would always invoke hungry ghosts to scare me into chewing with my mouth closed and not bang my chopsticks like a pair of drumsticks.
- Most dangerous to small children, especially those who are left at the empty, dark dinner table to "clear their plates"
- Telemarketers. Drop your land line, unlist your phone number and get caller ID. You can run but you can't hide. Particularly potent between the hours of 5 and 8 pm, they'll ruin the dinner party you've planned for months or worse, keep you on the phone for hours. I'd rather get a call asking "What's your favourite scary movie?"
- Most dangerous to people who always wear their blue tooth headsets (then again, maybe they deserve it)
- Holiday creatures. We're a bit familiar with these normally loving and cuddly characters going bad, what with evil Santas, Easter bunnies and tooth faeries. But what about evil cupids that hand out double-fat chocolates, Thanksgiving turkeys who spring to life and chase after you with a baster and a warped alternate universe where you're forever trapped in Times Square during New Year's? Shudder, no thank you.
- Most dangerous to people who stress during the holidays, aka everyone
- Evil referees. Do you feel like you're living out this bad dream with the NFL replacement refs? If black and white striped outfits and bad calls don't scare you enough, maybe the yellow flags bombarding the field and never ending piercing whistles will. The cacophony of colour and sound is enough to make someone go mad.
- Most dangerous to professional football this fall and Michael Lewis fans
What kind of villain would you like to see authors use more often?