Lisa Klink over at What It’s Like posts about the perils of over-explaining your villain’s motivations.
Generally, attempts to explain why a bad guy went bad turn out to be oversimplified and unsatisfying.
My general advice here is that if you’re creating an extreme villain (like Hannibal, the Joker or Anton Chigurh), don’t feel obliged to explain their psychosis – it may backfire on you. Let them be like the shark – a force of nature no one can truly understand.
She’s right on the money when she says this is an appropriate stance for an über-villain but might not be the way to go for a more “moderate bad guy”.
Read Lisa’s full post here: “More on Villains”
And keep in mind, kids, that villains are often antagonists but antagonists are not always villains. Why? Because the antagonist is the person who is actively working to keep the protagonist from getting what she wants. That may be the sweet old lady down the street who’s keeping little Jimmy from roving the night fueling his twice-rehabed crack habit. She may be firmly standing in his way by locking him in his room yet she’s not a knife-wielding psychopath bent on taking over the civilized world. Viva la difference!
What It’s Like posts are featured in THE STORY SPOT’s “Good Reads” widget in the sidebar. Find her under the menu with other great writers’ sites.