Well, don’t I feel silly L Rookie mistake.
The great Donald Maass, in his book THE BREAKOUT NOVELIST describes the mostly used “Mwoo-ha-ha Villains” as the cardboard variety and who never work. He suggests making the antagonist multi-dimensional, so that the reader is swayed in unexpected directions and even accepts the antagonist’s point of view.
Writer’s Digest posted an article 4 TECHNIQUES FORCREATING BELIEVABLE VILLAINS which uses strategies taken from James Scott Bell’s CONFLICT & SUSPENSE. These strategies also suggest giving the antagonist a sympathy factor in order to lend a powerful current of emotion to the experience.
The “Villains” section of SCREENWRITING TRICKS FOR AUTHORS by Alexandra Sokoloff does a wonderful job describing the importance of villains. She suggests that villains make up half of an entire story’s theme. This makes perfect sense, since theme deals with subtle messages and all those hard choices between good and bad, or in a real tense novel, between bad and worse.
So, I need to revisit the back story of my “villain”. The more I understand the reason for the antagonist’s bad behavior, that more I can “grow” the story and all its juicy conflicts.
For my own tips on how to Love Your Villain.
Who are your favorite villains? Right now, two of my own favorites are Rumplestiltskin and the Evil Queen of Once Upon A Time on abc.