Motivation Is Paramount
One of the questions that I get asked time and time again is; what makes a good villain (or hero)? My answer for both has always been the same, motivation. It is something that drives the actions in our own lives, and it is the exact thing that leads the course of your character’s lives. When I began developing the world around A Bard’s Tale, I realized I needed to provide the illustrator with a vision of what I want this character journey’s to be. Each journey is a direct result of an outside motivation.
Think back on the motivation behind some of your favorite heroes, what was their turning point? Was it the death of a parent? Was it an experiment that turns them into a super-soldier? These same situations can also be the motivation that turns a character into a villain. It has a lot to do with the mindset of the character, and how they handle trauma, and other situations. It is the same for each of us, how we approach difficult moments affects us at the core.
There are the occasional times a villain is necessary just to be evil for evil’s sake. However, the longer that character is around, the more the community of readers wants to know the backstory of what drove them to this point. The best part of being a writer is that you can construct this world around each character.
Now, take into consideration how much deeper readers can get engaged in a story when they understand the actions being taken. Then, you have the opportunity to twist it later on. What if something happens and the hero loses someone again? How does he react? Does he grapple and cope in the same way he did before, or does it break him? Or, what if a villain finds love, how does it change him?
For the good writer, just thinking about things like this is tantalizing. What we have noticed is that the deeper into the character we get, the more excited the creative team behind the book seems to get. Imagine an artist that takes you on as a client only to discover that the characters you have them drawing draw them into the world, and they are excited to keep working together. It happens, we have experienced it first hand.
Never be afraid to put that extra effort into your worldbuilding. Motivation can elevate a story far beyond just having a cool character. Get lost in the process and see where you can end up.