Fair warning, this post contains more editing talk. Why? Because it’s my blog. <Villainous laughter>
Actually, that’s what I want to talk to you about to day. No, not villainous laughter. At least, not directly. But if you have villainous laughter anywhere in your book and it’s not a parody of some sort, you might want to consider some more editing.
In my opinion, villains shouldn’t be over the top, only evil sons-of-bitches. I was taking a good look at my main villain the other day and, well, if he was alive right in front of me, he wouldn’t be able to stand up because he’d be as thin as a sheet of paper. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a good villain. He’s just a poor character, which it turn leads to poor conflict. I mean, obviously an evil bastard who kills everyone who pisses him off is going to kill the main character. That’s just common sense. It’s also boring.
So, I’m toning him down. Not completely, especially towards the end of the book, but in his introductory scene, he’s less of a psychopath and more of a stiff, uncompromising soldier who is trying to advance himself and unaware he’s just holding himself back. There were hints of his oblivious nature in earlier drafts, but it was mostly over shadowed by the psychopathic traits. I think by holding off on the murderousness until later (when he snaps under the weight of his own ego) is better. It makes him less evil (at first) and more of someone with different goals that happen to conflict with the protagonist, a self-saboteur who blames everyone else for his mistakes.
Overall, I think I'm pleased with the results--I haven't completely finished the edit so I can't be 100% sure it will work. But I like the growing tension.
What about your antagonists? Are they too evil? Or not deep enough? How do you deal with them?