HOW TO CREATE A CONCEPTUAL VILLAIN
The conceptual villain is a difficult antagonist to create. Why? Because the main is always fighting this metaphysical antagonist, but this villain cannot be seen. It is more felt than visualized. Even describing this kind of villain seems limited.
The most obvious conceptual villain is time. Time is often used to push the main forward through the mission. Movies where a bomb has been planted are good examples of the villain of time.
Do not be limited to time alone. Conceptual villains can take the form of any type of idea. Family Guy has a CV: Peter Griffin’s stupidity. The Griffins often find themselves in quirky situations because Peter cannot control his idiocy.
Sitcoms use various CV such as hardship, poverty, relationships, etc., and if they are used well, these ideas can create intense controversy for your characters.
How do we create a conceptual villain?
A CV needs to be immediate. If you introduce poverty as the villain, then it needs to drive the story, just as any other villain would. If fear is the villain, then the same is true.
Introduce poverty as a villain by explaining that two lovers grew up with nothing, and that they are threatened to have nothing in end. Once this is put into the novel, it should always be prevalent.
END IN SIGHT:
The threat of having nothing should push them forward to either have nothing or to overcome and get some gain, or maybe they just realize that they have each other. Either way, poverty should drive the story to this point.
Just as with any other villain, a CV needs to be faced. The climax is a standoff between the main the villain. Will the main prevail over the poverty or will it destroy him?
The resolution of a novel with a CV should be satisfying. It should not be the case that the threat of the concept lingers. The concept should either stomp out your main or buckle under the power of your main.
Though a CV is tough to create, its power can be felt through each page of the book. With a villain as a person, if the main can get away, he is safe. This is not true with a CV. A CV literally breathes down your main’s neck, and the main can never escape.
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope this helps!