Villains are useful in so many ways. So much so, in fact, that I think there are definitely some things we can learn from them as writers:
1. Plans for world domination invariably go wrong. You cannot decide that your book is going to be the most popular in the world, because you cannot directly control the actions of your readers (put that mind ray down at the back there). What you can do is enjoy the process of writing, do your best with the book, promote it well, and if you happen to achieve world domination as a result, well, at least you’ve saved yourself the expense of a robot army.
2. It’s vital to have minions. Publishing a book is a team effort. Even writing one is. The people around you are vital in making it easier for you to write your best, and in staying connected to the real world.
3. It’s easy to come back. Just as villains are rarely stopped by little things like falls into lava pits, and always find some way to show up in the sequel, it’s vital as a writer to be able to find ways to come back after setbacks. To find new ways to approach what you’re doing.
4. But occasionally, they should stay down. The key here is ‘new ways’. If something isn’t working, don’t just beat your head against a brick wall (there’s probably some furry underpant wearing barbarian type happy to do it for you anyway if you’re a proper villain) There are times when you have to acknowledge that merely working harder isn’t enough and you need to give up on a project, even if it doesn’t involve giant mutant penguins. In fact, especially if it doesn’t involve giant mutant penguins.
5. Check your plan for flaws. How many villains have been undone by some hitherto unforeseen problem with their grand scheme? Don’t be that person. Don’t settle for a plan or starting point that is good enough. Work on it until it is great.