Does your villain wear a black hat? Does he twirl his moustache and cackle, reveling in his own deviousness? Come now. You know better than that.
Even if you’re writing about a universe where everyone’s most dominant personality trait overpowers all the others, you need to spend a little time developing the motivations and deeper personalities of your characters. Most people understand this about their protagonist, but for some reason, antagonists – especially if they are villainous antagonists – don’t seem to get the same treatment.
But ‘look how evil I am’ will only get you so far.
Not all antagonists are what I would classify as villains. Remember, an antagonist is someone or something trying to stop your protagonist from achieving their goal, but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. It just means that he has his own goals that are contrary to those of the hero in your story.
I challenge you to think of your antagonist as a regular person – one with goals and dreams and friends he treats well. And if he truly is a villain – so corrupted by evil that you can’t find a shred of good in him, go back in his history, and figure out how he came to be that way. Is there a secret pain or trauma? Was he raised this way, and if so, what is the family secret that bends them toward evil? Is redemption possible?
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