Last weekend, Ana and I had an email conversation about villains that made me wonder about the role of a villain in romance stories.
In ‘His Leading Lady’, I brought in a character who turned
fairly nasty towards the end, which added an extra layer to the story. In both
‘Fragrance of Violets’ and ‘Changing the Future’ I had minor characters who
revealed information, one out of malice towards the hero (although not
necessarily wanting to split hero and heroine up), the other who did hope to
cause problems between them because she had her sights set on the hero. Were
they villains? I tend to think of them both as characters who threw a spoke
into the wheel and created extra problems as a result. In ‘Her Only Option’,
the ‘villain’ of the piece isn’t actually revealed until late in the story,
which is part of the mystery of who is behind various threats aimed at the hero
and heroine. In my recently submitted ‘Dream of Paris’ it’s the ex-fiancée who
causes problems, again not directly aimed at splitting up the hero and heroine,
but certainly causing the heroine a lot of anguish.
I began to wonder whether there needs to be a
villain, or at least an antagonist, in romance novels. Although I’ve had
characters who’ve caused problems for the hero and heroine, I’m not sure I
would call all of them ‘villains’ or even antagonists.
Is it necessary to have a third party
who is jealously or maliciously trying to destroy the relationship between the
hero and heroine (for whatever reason)? Or can the ‘antagonist’ be the
circumstances in which the main characters find themselves, or the events that
happen which seem to be beyond their control? Or maybe the ‘villain’ is their
own doubt, distrust or uncertainty, either about themselves or about each
I’ll be interested to know how you feel about villains - and/or
the kind of ‘villain’ you’ve used in your romance stories.