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The Ultimate Guide to Horror Monsters and Villains Part 2: The Secrets Behind Horror Antagonists

Updated: Nov 13

Warning: Today's images have been inspired by some gnarly stuff. May gross out lame, non-horror fans

The Ultimate Guide to Horror Monsters and Villains Part 2 - The Secrets Behind Horror Antagonists, on the Writer's Cabin

How to Write Terrifying Horror Monsters and Villains Part 2 of 2

In Part 1, we learned what goes into what makes a great horror monster or villain, then outlined the work that goes into developing them so they can have that precious "fear factor."

Today, we are going to take that a step further and look at subverting expectations with your terrifying antagonists and building a sense of dread and uncertainty around them. We will also discuss some issues you might run into with clichés and research.

We don't need a preamble for this one, so let's jump right into the meat and beans.


Related Post >>> BEST Horror Writing Techniques to Write Truly SCARY Stories

Guide to Horror Monsters and Villains Part 2 - subverting expectations heading image

Subverting Expectations for Your Antagonist

One of the best ways to keep your reader on the edge of their seat is by destabilizing them—letting them feel insecure in the story because they cannot trust what is hiding behind each corner.

Writers do this by subverting their readers' expectations. As we have established in Part 1, the antagonist's primary role is to provide the fear factor. Though we can create fear through many techniques and writing tricks, your antagonist is the main vehicle for delivering the scare.

So, when creating your baddie, defying predictability will make your story more interesting and suspenseful and keep your readers eager to see what they will do next.

Defying Archetypes

Horror readers are always encountering the same familiar archetypes: the relentless, masked killed, the vengeful ghost, the demonic entity, and more. While these archetypes have their place and can be used effectively, subverting them can inject new life and suspense into your story.

Take a well-known archetype and try giving it a unique twist or a new layer of complexity.

Or pull something completely different out of the hat to shock us all.

horror monster demon from hell - Image made with Leonardo.a
Image made with

Unexpected Motives and Actions

Readers can very often anticipate the motives and actions of villains in horror. They can usually guess when something is in the closet or even which character is going to get the axe next.

This is because the villains of horror are often one-dimensional with all the same old motives that lead to all the same old actions.

They expect the vampire to thirst for blood, a zombie to hunger for flesh, and a ghost to seek revenge. To subvert expectations, explore motivations and actions that diverge from the usual.