In my previous post I discussed the puppets of the master puppeteer. Many of the traits of the puppets I described could be antagonists in their own right, without a puppeteer, but you cannot have a puppeteer without a puppet with strings to pull and manipulate to the detriment of the goals of the protagonist.
They are the grand villain with their dastardly plan and their manipulative ways. They pull the strings of the puppets (and cut the strings of the puppets) and are just generally there to make disrupt the lives and plans of the protagonist. Some of the greatest manipulators of fantasy and science fiction, include Voldemort and Emperor Palatine. There are many great villains in literature and film, but the very best ones are those who are controlled in their character development.
The best villains are the ones who are more than just two dimensional evil people, who only care about carrying out their plans. Good villains have dimensions, purposes, reasons for why they are like they are and to what they do. The only exception as to why a villain does what he does without much explanation is The Joker, portrayed by the late Heath Ledger in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
As Michael Caine puts it, some men just want to watch the world burn. This character gets away with being evil without much purpose, but that’s because he explains that he likes reducing everyone to the same level of villainy as him and is disappointed at the end when he fails to achieve this by pulling on the strings of Gotham’s citizens. The Joker is the exception to the rule.
Most Puppeteer Antagonists though need to be less mysterious than this and have character development as complex as the protagonist. As a writer you need to understand how your characters react. How a villain reacts to situations is just as crucial to lay out as it is for the protagonist. It is less likely that the feelings and motivations of the antagonist are something you are likely to draw upon from personal experience though, and this is why having a clear plan is crucial for antagonists, even if you don’t end up revealing it all to the audience, it doesn’t matter; if you understand it then you can write about it a lot easier.
Feelings that generally motivate the plans of villains include, hate, greed and the desire for power. All of these can be understandable to a writer on some scale. All of us can hold up our hands and admit occasionally we can be a little greedy when it comes to our favourite food for example. Just capture that feeling of greed that you do understand and expand upon it using your imagination and the limits you’ve put in place in your story world. The villains can have a massive amount greed, but there are limits in the world and also protagonists to get in the way of them working their way towards satisfying their greed.