This is a very good question, though for myself I don’t believe that there is that much of a difference, because every character, good or bad, deserves the same degree of attention if we are to make them relatable or believable. This is of course just from my perspective, and being relatively new to the craft, I may be wrong.
In all honesty, I do prefer writing heroes as opposed to villains because I feel that they have far more appeal than their villainous counterparts. That said, it can also be quite fun to write villains too, because it’s quite satisfying when we can venture out of our safety zones and create a character that is so bad and devoid of compassion, that we can quite happily feel no remorse when we come to write them out. The same though, can’t be said when writing about the hero, we tend to put so much of ourselves into their character, we nurture them, watch them develop, their triumphs are our triumphs, and their failures are also our failures, but they win through in the end, or not in some cases.
I don’t know how other writers feel about this, but I tend to take it personally when my heroes suffer some form of adversity. By the same token, there have also been times when the main antagonist has managed to endear himself to me to such an extent, that I’ve actually shed a tear when I’ve reached a stage in a project where I have to finish him off once and for all.
Some characters I write about are inspired by real people who I know or knew in my life. Others were created in my imagination or were idols of mine that inspired me. It all depends. When I wrote about Daniel in my novel Gwen, most of what I wrote about him was true. Daniel is based off of an ex-boyfriend of mine who broke my heart. While some things are exaggerated, most of what I wrote is factual. The reason why I decided to write what I did was because I wanted to be genuine and authentic. I believe the reader knows when a writer is being authentic and when they’re not. By writing about my own heartbreak and personal experience, I want my reader to feel. That’s what art is and what art is supposed to do. It’s supposed to make us feel and inflict emotion.
Every story has heroes and villains. As a writer I want my hero to be someone I find not only likable but touched with a bit of my ideal man or woman. I want to live the story through them. This is probably why I lean toward relatively happy endings.
Ed Landry sometimes has cause to wonder about how happy my endings are.
Heroes and villains are not hard for me to write per se. I grew up watching Dudley Do-Right and Snidely Whiplash battle it out for sweet Nell. The difficulty is in writing believable heroes and villains. I dislike heroes who are breathtakingly handsome/beautiful, have a college degree in Genius with a minor in every subject under the sun, attract the opposite sex like flies, are amazing physical specimens, and are friends with or like everyone they meet.
As Ed can attest, and fans have commented, he never seems to get the girl.
It’s nice as a writer to slip into that role and be the hero of the story, even with all the troubles associated with it. Writing the bad guy is a little different. Sadly, I don’t have trouble getting into the villain’s head. Although I do have one villain (in an as yet unpublished book) that after writing from his point of view a shower and a time of repentant prayer seem to be in order.
To appear real, heroes and villains have to be human. The greatest hero is not without his faults and sins. Likewise, the evilest villain must have some redeemable quality. This has to be done while getting people to fall in love with the hero and hating the villain because if you can’t tell them apart—do you really have a story worth reading?