Bad Mojo: A Brief Word About Villains
To get right to the point, a strong villain creates a better hero. It’s simple mechanics — the way to get stronger is to lift weights that increasingly get heavier. The bad guy, then, must throw ever-worse obstacles at the hero, making the problem greater and greater as the story goes on. The villain must strip everything from the good guy except his resolve. Every comfort, every safe path, every familiarity, every exit.
If you want to stick with the exercise metaphor, it’s a lot like muscle confusion. Throw your body a never-ending series of curves and your muscles will grow stronger in order to keep up. Your hero must be thrown curve after curve if his resolve and his character are to grow. He has to outsmart the villain, in new ways that even he as the once foot-sure expert never thought possible.
The badder the bad guy, the better. It’s the duality of the universe, and the truth is universal. Good is defined by evil and evil by good. The stronger the evil, the more malevolent the presence, the stronger the negative, the better the good will have to be to overcome it.
Use your bad guy wisely. Use him to tear down everything the hero took for granted. Then let your hero step up. If he’s really the hero, he’ll show you what to do.