One of the questions I get asked in regards to creating characters is “how do you deal with the mindset of a villain?”
Certainly nobody enjoys going to a dark mental place where, we have to assume, a lot of nasty characters reside. Still, if you want to remain true to putting a human face on a villainous character, you have to give him or her a lot of thought.
My wonderful writing mentor Ronald Jacobs always advised me that the best adversaries in a plot are worthy adversaries. In order to make an adversary worthy, there should be a spark of humanity there, a reason why he does what he does. This way, the reader can relate somewhat with the antagonist and interest is created. The more human the villain is, the more impact he has.
So there I was, minding my own business writing one of those truly twisted novels that grabs hold of you and has to come out when I came to the killer’s debut. I’d never attempted to write a character quite so creepy and wasn’t relishing that first passage. In fact, I continually wrote around him, putting off the scene until I felt I could do justice to him instead of creating a killer cliché. Yes, I could have abandoned the effort and gone on to something else, but a disturbing dream I’d had several months prior provided the inspiration for the story and I felt compelled to follow it through.