Sorry to vanish. Life intervened. Back. Miss me?
Over the weekend, I went to see a movie, which will remain unnamed, since I have a code against dissing things on my blog. (If you can guess the movie based on my remarks, I might not confirm it, but you should feel very pleased.) I'm not writing a negative review; but, I feel like I compelled to mention the movie anyway.
This movie had both an antagonist and a villain. They were separate individuals with separate reasons to hate the MC and work to counter his motives. They occasionally worked together, but they were not the same guy.
One thing I noticed half-way through the movie was that the antagonist really bugged me. Not just his personality, which was somewhat annoying, but all of him. Every scene he was in made me roll my eyes and consider ducking out for Sour Patch Kids.
It took me a only a little while longer to figure out why. He didn't change. Ever. Throughout the whole movie, the antagonist was always the exact bloody same.
That. Got. Old.
I'm sure, if you've been working on writing for a while, someone has told you that characters, over the course of a novel, need to grow and change. They cannot remain exactly the same. Readers will find that uninteresting.
When it comes to bad guys, I don't ask that they have periods of great moral development or that they experience some sort of deep internal change or that anything really meaningful and emotional occur with them. But, they cannot remain the exact same bad guy the entire time. Things need to change.
Because, for the MC, things must change, stakes must rise. And one of these ways in which stakes can/should/must rise is for the bad guys get more powerful. Otherwise, the MC is making steady progress against an unshifting enemy, which leads to the feeling that the MC is sure to win. That's not good.
The reader should not feel like the MC is certain to win. The reader should be sitting there thinking, "Oh, sweet sugar cakes, the MC is doom. There's no way they survive this." Stakes should be up there, or there's no reason for the readers to keep going.
During the movie in question, the villain changed. His motivations increased, so he acted more dramatically, which made him a more interesting and threatening villain. That makes me happy. The antagonist did not change or develop any new motivations. He had one goal throughout the whole movie and continued to approach it in the same manner and with the same level of tenacity. That makes me not happy.
In books, a similar situation would be equally frustrating. Characters need to have increasing motivations. They need to become more dedicated, more threatening, more determined. There should be more.
How do you feel about motivations over time? How do you feel about characters who do not grow?