Who is the Villain of Your Book?

Who is the Villain of Your Book?
May 19, 2015 3 Comments Author Inspiration,Writing Lynneklippel

Every book needs a hero and a villain, even non-fiction ones.

A while back I wrote a blog post about finding the hero of your book. If you missed that article, you can review it here


There is a flip-side to that conversation. It’s also important to identify the villain of your book. I don’t mean a dastardly fellow who is going to foreclose on the mortgage like in a melodrama.

The villain of a non-fiction book is the person, idea, belief, or cultural practice that you are trying to change. It’s that thing that makes you angry enough to take a stand and write a book. When writing a novel you create a person who is the villain. In a non-fiction book the villain is the impetus for the act of writing. It’s rarely a person, but generally something that is part of society, impacts a particular group of people or is a belief that you believe needs to be challenged.

Some examples:
• A book about finding a better career is fighting the villain of lackluster employment
• A book about dating is fighting the villain of loneliness
• A book about money management is fighting the villains of debt and lack
• A book about personal development is fighting the villain of unfulfilled potential
• A book about prayer is fighting the villain of disconnection from the Divine

Every book needs both a hero and a villain.

How to discover your villain?
1. Think about what injustices are faced by your ideal reader.
2. What about the situation seems wrong, unfair, or overlooked?
3. What problem do you want to help your reader solve? The villain lurks behind that problem as the root cause.

Once you have identified your villain, you can use the information several ways:
1. To give you rocket fuel to continue writing your book.
2. To take a stand against this villain in your book as you explain why the book is important.
3. To help your readers transform.
4. To rally others to your cause in your book marketing efforts.

As an author, it is helpful to be clear what you stand for and what you stand against in your book. Thinking in terms of heroes and villains can make that distinction clear and powerful.

So, who’s the villain of your book?  Share it in the comments below and start taking your stand!

photo credit: The Joker, London Super Comic Con via photopin (license)

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  1. 1


    Thank you so much for this brilliant article, Lynne, and the insights you are sharing. The villains in my book are many: disconnection with the divine, lonliness, debt and lack, a belief and an identity of being powerless in and with my life. You are right, I can feel the juices in me as I think about my villains. What a great way to describe the emotional drive behind writing my book. It is going to help me rethink my marketing strategies and to better clarify my audience/tribe.

    Much love and appreciation,
    Judy K. Katz
    PS I think you really did nail the Villains accurately in your article. Very helpful!

    1. 1

      Lynne Klippel

      Thanks Judy! I am so glad this article inspired you.

  2. 1

    j. madison

    I truly do value your work, Lynne. Thanks for this and the other articles you so generously share with your community. One of these days, you never know, I’d like to travel to visit and work with you. I like your insights and your warm heart which truly comes through…thanks! Best, j.


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