Ah, my knowledge of psychology is mostly peripheral (I only look into it to help with characterization) so I do thank you for the correction.
@ vincentquill (and JHM again)
Exactly. While he was in no way good or even morally neutral (the Iranian Plateau Genocide denies him those adjectives) he wasn't a complete monster like many people invoke him as. I also never said evil, just that he was a cruel bastard (Which he kind of was, read his tactics when dealing with prisoners)
Back on topic, the most important way to keep a villain entertaining is to keep them relatively unpredictable (don't take it too far
, however). You don't have to crank it up to Magnificent Bastard
levels, so long as the antagonist occasionally has the thought "But that's what they EXPECT me to do next!" and changes plans accordingly then it should work fine. If the reader doesn't always know how the villain will act next, it makes it all the more terrifying/dramatic when they do
know how the villain will act next (IE: killing a character for intervening) because the situation will hold more weight (they'll be wondering what drove him to act that way, as the answer "because he is the antagonist" will have been taken away from them by his previous behavior.).
And remember with antagonists strength is not always = to entertainment value. He doesn't have to be stronger than everyone in the world, he just has to be as strong if not stronger than the protagonist (or group of protagonists).
Kafka On the Shore
managed to make something as mundane as a animal abuser one of the scariest villains I've ever encountered in literature, simply because the one protagonist who has to face him (the book has two protagonists) is a nearly powerless weak old man.
edited 30th May '13 7:22:38 AM by SalmonPunch