Earlier this month, Lynn Viehl had a lovely post about antagonists called, hilariously, "Ten Things I Hate About Your Protagonist." In that post, she talks about the number of ways that antagonists can be two-dimensional or just plain boring. My favorite of hers?
In the middle of the final crisis in the story, when she has the upper hand over everyone, the antagonist proudly delivers a full confession of all the wrong she's done.
Hmmmm. Maybe she's Catholic.
In the world of The Incredibles, this flaw would be called "monologuing." :) Seriously, though, this should never happen anymore. Not even in James Bond.*
My own personal problem in writing antagonists is that I don't spend enough time on them. My villains aren't two-dimensional, exactly, but I don't have a good idea what's going on with them in the early drafts. Like, they just show up for plot purposes and I don't know enough about their internal lives to know why they would show up in this particular place at this particular time. And then one of the members of my critique group will be like "was he just hanging out in the bathroom waiting for your main character to show up or what?" and I'll slap my forehead and figure out why the hell my villain was there in the first place.
The thing is, I don't know why this is something I have to be told every time. I should know this, already. I do know this already. I even wrote about it before: every character is the protagonist of his own story. Now I just need to remember it.
* One of my MANY problems with the latest Terminator movie was the monologuing that happened at the very end. To make matters worse, it was SKYNET (the computer that takes over the world) who did the monologuing! The only acceptable excuse for monologuing is the antagonist's desire to gloat over the hero, which as a computer SkyNet doesn't antually have. sigh. And that's not even close to my biggest problem with that film. Note to Self: Christian Bale can't save everything, Jay, a lesson you should have learned from Reign of Fire.