Susan R. Mills at A Walk In My Shoes did a series of posts a while back based on what she learned from Donald Maass's The Fire in Fiction. I have since purchased the book and learned a lot from it, but the topic that had the most impact on me was discussed in this post on Susan's blog. It's all about the bad guys.
In my novel, Embrol, the antagonist is super evil, and I know why he's evil, but his true motivation never comes up to give the reader some insight into his character. As a result, I think he's coming across as very one-dimensional. Plus, he isn't even mentioned until page 120, almost half way through the story, and we don't meet him until page 178. It's not that there isn't any tension before this--my hero and heroine have some serious issues to work through--but since reading Susan's post, his role in the story has been screaming for my attention, despite my best efforts to ignore it. He deserves a stronger presence, and I think the story will be better overall with some idea of why he is the way he is.
So, what does this mean? Well, rewrites of course. Seems like that's what it always means.
I've figured out a way to work the antagonist into the first ten pages, but his presence that early in the story changes pretty much everything. Sure, it would probably be easier to just shove this one in a drawer and work on something different, and I can't say I'm super excited about starting over from scratch, but I love these characters too much and I'm determined to make this story the best is can be. I want to see it on the bookstore shelf someday.
The worst part--I still have three queries out. Is it totally messed up that I'm hoping for rejections? Or maybe my query will just get lost in their slush piles for a few months until the new version is ready? Argh.
How evil are your antagonists? Do you give them the same depth as your other characters, some motivation for their badness? Or are they just bad because the bad guys are supposed to be bad?