A letter from your antagonist
According to my nature as the antagonist, the archenemy, the nemesis of your pretty hero, I feel the need to threaten you. My thugs should pay you a visit, my shock troopers and army of darkness should engage your feeble troops in battle, or perhaps I should engage you mano-a-mano in an epic, duel to the death finale.
However, I won’t, because you’ll cheat. Don’t deny it. How is it that my army of darkness always falls to an unforeseen twist of fate, some secret weapon that only the hero has, or a superb stratagem that I failed to identify? Oh look, you lured my troops into a tiny gorge, and I failed to predict that you’d have archers high above to decimate my forces. I’m the Prince of Darkness (to quote Ozzy), which means I excel in devious means and evil deeds, and I’m the one that cheats – mercilessly. How can your farm boy hero and his friends circumvent my demonic excellence so easily?
Then, at the finale, when I finally get to fight your beloved protagonist one on one, the odds are still stacked against me. That’s not fair! I’ve been plotting world domination for decades. I’m a master at it. I’ve gathered the most despicable accomplices, planted spies in your camp, tortured and bribed many of your hero’s, yet somehow your hero gets the better of me. How is he a better swordsman than me, and a superior strategist? Come on, get real. You’re still cheating. The undersold sidekick comes out of nowhere to save the day, mysterious angels of righteousness emerge to weaken me, or your hero just finds the chink in my armor. Lucky sod. Deus ex Machina, I say.
Do you know how tired I am of standing up at the finale and mindlessly regurgitating my plans, explaining how superior I am, how the hero has failed, and delivering an endless soliloquy outlining the reasons why. Have you any idea how stupid that makes me look. I’m a highly educated villain, and that doesn’t necessarily make me egotistical. Your hero – he’s the egomaniac. I’m not going to waste my breath on any more speeches. If you haven’t written your book well enough for the reader to understand what’s at risk should I win, then you messed up. In future, I’m just going to quietly stab your hero. No explanations, no gleeful drama. I’m certainly not going to capture the hero, tie him woefully up and leave him to a slow, elaborate death while I head off for tea, not even watching the fruits of my labor.
Oh, and my fortress is designed to be invincible. I don’t just forget about that open sewer, access trench, or secret sally port. My guards can’t be bribed. They’re handpicked and under threat of death to protect me. You can’t win them over with moral arguments. When I do detect that someone has infiltrated my defenses, I certainly don’t sit in my throne room cum control center and foolishly claim that it must be an animal, or “ignore them, they’ll never get past my elite hounds”, or “it must be a mistake, my castle is invincible”. Would you do that? No, you’d send a large guard contingent to check it out, or you’d put your fortress on red alert, just in case.
Finally, I am the villain, so don’t you dare water down my magnificent evil depravity. There no way I’m going to cave and beg for mercy to your pathetic hero. I stand by my convictions to my destruction. In addition, don’t demean me by explaining to your readers that my childhood made me the way I am, or my stern father, or some horrible family tragedy. Boo hoo. I’m evil, dammit. Don’t take that away from me. If you weaken me, you weaken the hero’s victory, and your whole book, and you wouldn’t want to do that, right?
Therefore, dear author, make me bold, make me larger than life, make me a real villain, and treat me that way until my final, inevitable destruction. All I ask is that you make a similarly strong hero worthy of defeating me. Don’t use cheap tricks or easy get-out’s.