In writing my first novel, People of the Sword, I learned a great deal about the writing process. One of the most important things I learned was that the villain of any story is as critical as the hero. Consequently, creating a well developed and believable antagonist is essential for crafting a tale worth reading. How does a writer succeed in accomplishing this?
First, devote time to develop the villain. A writer will find it difficult to generate a convincing antagonist if she or he spends little time crafting the villain. The antagonist needs to be as three-dimensional as the hero or readers will lose interest quickly, which requires a writer to spend an equal amount of time constructing the antagonist's motivations, history, strengths and frailties.
Secondly, establish clear motivations for the antagonist. People, generally, don't just wake up and say "hey, I'm gonna be bad today." Villains in books don't either. Writers need to provide readers with an understanding of what motivates the antagonist to commit "evil" acts. Is the antagonist acting out of a need for revenge [as was my ‘villain’ Crarnock], or is the antagonist suffering from a mental disorder? Readers want to understand why villains do what they do. Give your readers that.
Lastly, expand upon the relationships between the antagonist and her or his underling. One characteristic I find amongst my favorite novels is that the authors revealed in detail the intricacies of the antagonist's relationships with underlings. Does the villain find his or her underlings to be a source of frustration or stability? Does the villain trust every detail of his or her ruthless plan with a henchman or is the underling to become a casualty in the end along with the hero? In answering these questions, the writer may very well hook an entire legion of readers.
Neil Patrick O’Donnell, an anthropologist and life-long resident of Western New York. After years of studying changes to Native American and European societies through contact, he incorporated his discoveries into journal articles and short fiction pieces. O’Donnell’s intent was to relay professional discoveries to a wider audience. People of the Sword, the first in a historical saga, is the culmination of these efforts.
People of the Sword combines myth, history, and conquest with music, sorcery and a touch of romance to impart the struggles of two vastly different cultures suddenly dependent on one another for survival. Confronted by a common enemy, the wizard Crarnock, the druids and knights of Tropal realize that only through cooperation can they defeat Crarnock’s goblin army. The journey will test the resolve of both peoples as they realize that their collective bias and misunderstandings are as much a threat as Crarnock himself.