Halloween is already in the past, but for me the scares have only begun. Most people will read eerie stories or watch one of the thousand Stephen King adaptations they play on every channel before and after FX - just for one night! To me, this is the time of year during which I wolf down numerous eerie tales. However, as of late, I'm having a hard time finding some good, scary tales. It seems the villains have been watered down. You can save that stuff for the kiddies. If you want a better villain, consider what's next in this entry.
You Can't Beat the Villain
As some of you already know, I'm a huge Batman fan, and my problem with the movies - no matter who directed them - is the portrayal of Bane. While the recent The Dark Knight Rises provides the villain Bane with a rich backstory, the plot calls for the super-intelligent, super-strong criminal to face a three-second demise. This also happened in Batman & Robin, alongside the fact it was an all-over disgrace to the legacy.
You can't knock off the villain when your story outsmarts you. If you really want a strong villain in your story, you'll probably want to concoct clever plot turns and scenarios in which your villain seems unstoppable. And then at the climax of the story, the villain falls victim to a very simple attack.
Keep working with the villain to make sure they don't go down with a single punch. In fact, the villain doesn't need to lose the war; just the battle. The promise of revenge is always a good ending, if I may say so.
Your Story Should Act Like a Villian
Of course, while you're creating a vile villain, make sure he isn't one-sided. Both your story and your villain can benefit each other. If you're using an evil mastermind, then maybe your story should be clever altogether. If you villain is intelligent, make your hero smarter. And then make your villain smarter again.
This adds a nice flow to your piece. Also a villain shouldn't be evil or the exact opposite of your protagonist. See, an antagonist is someone or something in front of the hero's goal, so just because they're blocking the prize, doesn't mean they're evil at heart or the exact opposite of your main character.
Give your villain a rich upbringing. They didn't necessarily shoot out of the womb ready to kill a baby-face character. They might've had a dark upbringing. Maybe they're outcasts. Maybe they tried to be good.
Alongside their past, make sure to give them a redeeming moment. That is, sometimes the bad guy has a change of heart or isn't evil in some other instance. Sure, readers can still despise your villain, but at least they're more human. There's nothing worse than an antagonist who chooses to be evil, when you know he's capable of good.
A nice ending to a story is a villain who stops another villain. Change-of-heart plot points never get old to me, so long as they're realized with some taste and craft.
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.