Had a few questions about this, and this post is going to be a long one, so be prepared!
First and foremost why is your character evil?
This is a question you’re going to want to ask yourself a lot.
Taking a closer look, here are a few things to consider:
Is it in their DNA/Relative to a mental illness?
Before I go on and continue into this category, I am going to tell you that it is imperative that you extensively research any mental illness you plan to use as your character’s backstory, for any reason. Research until you feel like a doctor. Try your best to portray the illness properly or risk being a huge insult to those who actually have the illness. Don’t be an ass. Do your research. If someone approaches you and they have an illness that you are portraying and they tell you that you are not portraying it appropriately, be mindful and respectful.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s move on to just a few illnesses that you could use. Note that these are baseline examples and explanations, meant to only help you get ideas if you are indeed playing an evil character.
—comes in many forms (general, situational, social, etc.)
—varies per individual
—causes excessive repetitive/obsessive thinking
+from this character may think they can stop obsessive thoughts by killing those that caused those obsessive thoughts
- PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
—varies per individual
—stress and/or debilitation caused by triggering thoughts, images, or scenarios, random invasive thoughts and so forth.
+from this character could be ‘triggered’ and thus kill because of this.
—comes in different forms
—auditory hallucinations, visual hallucinations or both
—Unless regulated with medication, people can slip into psychosis [contact with reality is horribly impaired]
+from this character could kill or torture based on the auditory/visual hallucinations
- Split Personality Disorder (severe)
—varies per person
—causes another ‘being’ to be within the mind of the person, sometimes overtaking their thoughts and abilities
+from this character may kill while being ‘controlled’ by the other person in their mentality.
- Homicidal Sleepwalking (rare)
—person is in a sleepwalking state when committing evil and unjust acts
—amnesia or absolutely no recollection of the act upon waking
+character could use this as their cover up or may actually have this problem
- Simply within their nature
—unexplained by science of psychology
This is only a FEW of the possibilities. Always, always do your research though if you’re going to use any sort of illness.
If you’re playing a fantasy/supernatural being:
- The nature of their blood
—no matter how much they fight it, their primal, horrible instincts will get the better of them eventually (i.e. most vampires)
—being possessed by a demon, ghost, etc. causes them to kill
—being put under a spell and being out of their own control and forced to kill
Though, in these options, the evil character relishes in the deaths and killings still, even if it is against their will. Such as an extremely timid character that wants revenge, thus has someone cast a spell/possess them to do the killing for them.
MOTIVE IS IMPORTANT
Questions to ask:
- Are they trying to send a message in general or to someone specific?
- Are they paying homage to a person, god, thing or belief?
- Are they making art?
If so, what is their vision? Overall and for each ‘piece’.
- Do they enjoy the consumption of those killed?
If yes, for what reason?
—to feel like they have power/being on the highest of the food chain? (see more: Hannibal)
—do they feel that they are a sort of god by doing this?
- Are they in the mindset that they are doing the world justice by killing the specific people they are killing (i.e. rapists, murderers, etc.)
- Do they simply enjoy the thrill and rush of adrenaline that comes with killing?
- Do they enjoy the feeling of ‘playing God’ and controlling the fate of others
- Do they have a specific vision in their killings?
For example, killing only beautiful virgins as it is the most beautiful and purest way anyone can die, etc. etc.
- Do they have someone telling them to kill?
—A behind the scenes person, making your character do the dirty work, but they enjoy it
—A ‘ghost’ of someone from their past telling them to do it
- They’ve taken a revenge route and when their revenge ends, they miss the thrill of killing and seek it out
Even if your character is not killing anyone, and are just being cruel and torturous, what is their reasoning behind it?
- Do they just want to be an observer to their actions and watch what unfolds?
- Do they like the feeling of mayhem their action causes either to the environment or to the individuals?
- Do they enjoy the unraveling of mental stability that their actions cause their victims?
- Do they garner a sort of ‘high’ by doing such actions?
What is their preferred method of planning and killing?
- Do they use excessive amounts of time planning and preparing for each kill?
- Are they impulsive and kill on the fly?
- Do they knock out their victims with blunt force, chloroform, tranquilizers? Or do they use a more direct approach and interact with their victim and put something in their food, drink, offer them a ride home yet take them to their own house, etc.?
- Are they quick killers?
—hurry and get the job done to hide the body
- Are they slow killers?
—do they torture their victims before killing them?
If they are less physical with their victims up front, what methods do they use to torture others? This is more psychological and emotional:
- Do they manipulate others into making them feel worthless or horrible about themselves? Or do they build them up to think highly of themselves before tearing them down?
- Do they attack others to make their target alone and helpless?
- Do they play a lot of Behind The Scenes roles to get at the character, such as using others at their bidding to mess with their target?
Evil or psychotic characters revel in what they do. They may or may not have a proper reasoning behind it. They may see the world in a different manner and be completely and utterly confused as to why people cannot understand their reasoning for the deaths. Most evil characters are rational about the irrational. Most are very logical and practical and most often times: very intelligent. This isn’t the case for all of them, but yes.
Writing an evil/psychotic character becomes easier when you get to understand their way of thinking. That is what you need to start with after you’ve designed their past and so on. Be specific in what caused them to be this way, whether its revenge or they started showing signs of manipulation and violence at an early age.
I know this ‘guide’ is a lot of asking yourself questions about your character, but the writing will come when you’ve placed more of an understanding of your character for yourself.
I hope this helps!