It's easy to create an evil villain to foil your protagonist's plans, but with just a little extra effort, you can take your diabolical character to the next level.
Instead of a stock bad guy, infuse your antagonist with real emotion, and a few good qualities, and you've just upped the stakes. The loving father and husband who is embezzling from his company. The abused and ignored child turned gangster. The grieving mother out for revenge. The bullied teenager turned gunman.
All of these villains have motivations we can empathize with. They're not just one-dimensional psychopaths who serve our plot lines, they're human beings making bad choices. Very few people in this world are all good, or all bad.
I've been thinking about villains this week because I'm trying to fix my own. I started working through Donald Maass' Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, and realized that my antagonist could be more compelling if he was not just a man who lusts for money because he grew up homeless. That's his motivation, but he has many facets. I just need to find them.
Fixing him will require some new scenes, and a few plot adjustments, but in the end I hope to have created a more compelling character that readers will remember long after they put down the book.
How do you create interesting villains?
Happy Groundhog Day!