Posting this in the General section because I’m not sure where would be best😅
I got to thinking about this after playing through several WIP on here–though it is something I’ve thought about plenty before.
Much of the time, I see various media portray antagonists as evil for the sake of being evil. I feel that there are certain cases in which this works fairly well, but in many cases it makes it more difficult to immerse myself in what I’m reading or watching. Black and white morality is difficult for me to swallow, and relying on it often seems like an excuse to not write the motivations of the antagonist(s). It’s difficult to flesh out a character when that happens, which makes it difficult to think of the character as a person. Note that this doesn’t include antagonists whose motives are hidden (this can work well as a plot device).
The problem is, it’s really, really easy to fall into this trap when writing. I feel like it’s probably due to our own views about what we consider “good” and “bad;” we’ll write evil the way we view what evil is in reality, forgetting that our readers may not feel the same as we do about this. Even consciously thinking about this, it’s something difficult to avoid while writing (vague and shallow motives aren’t necessarily better than no motives, IMO).
Like I said earlier, some writing functions very well with the kind of antagonists I’m describing here, but it works best if the writer was presenting the antagonist(s) this way on purpose.
So, does anyone have any tips to writing well characterized antagonists? The only things I’ve been able to come up with are to be conscious of one’s own biases when writing and to utilize feedback, and do so often. I ask mainly because, as I’ve said, I’ve seen this problem a lot and have had trouble with it myself in past experiences.