I don’t like cookie cutter antagonists all that much, some stories work with them, others do not. However, personally, I like to read and write villains with compelling backstories and who do what they do for a reason.
Most bad guys in stories do what they do because they think that it’s either the right thing, will benefit the world in some way, is angry and trying to take out their anger on the world (or some variant of that), or believes that the end justifies the means. Unless your villain is the devil (or some variant of the devil), or is just insane, no well developed bad guy is committing heinous deeds “because they’re just evil, and that’s what evil people do.”
Right now, in my story, The Priest of Tears has defeated Symon and his band of knights. Symon is the only one left alive, and that’s because the Arnyth has all five Mythic Blades (the only five magical objects in the world, and those who wield them are exceptionally powerful). He has no need to kill Symon anymore. He was only killing to get the swords, and now that he has them, he has no need to kill anyone else. Symon asked him why he’s doing this, and so, for the first time, we’re learning the villain’s motivations. He wants to change the past and make it so that his pain can be erased, and with it, all the pain he caused others in his quest to take the swords. He believes that it was okay to kill because in the end, and if he can change the past, they would never have died in the first place.
All the evil acts he’s done would no longer have happened because he would have changed the past. He’s wrong though, that’s not exactly how the Mythic Blades work, but he doesn’t know that yet. He’s evil because he needs to change the past, to correct the wrong done to him. He believes that if he succeeds, everyone he killed would never have been killed, so it’s okay to cut down anyone who gets in his way. He hates taking life, this is why he cries and begs for forgiveness every time he murders someone. They will live again if he can get the swords.
I love this villain. He’s been a joy to write. Sometimes I think a story is only as good as its antagonist.
Time for some interaction, I want to hear from you. Who’s your favorite villain, and why?
Current word count for The Priest of Tears: 78,491/50,000!
Until the tomorrow’s end,
Andrew Ronzino, A Cat in a Hat