John August remembers the joys of writing an antagonist and the challenges of writing about monsters or other-worldly forces. A good villain often has fuller backstory than the hero, even if it is only hinted at, and the villain’s motivations are often just one decision away from being heroic .

But should you make your monster human?

A certain balance must occur, between giving your villain depth and rationalizing away the villain’s impact. Also, there’s something very unsettling about a villain that we don’t fully understand. Monstrosity often comes down to Otherness, and there is nothing more Other than actions we can’t begin to rationalize due to their sociopathy or perceived insanity.

Of course, the best way to establish that an object of desire is lovable is also to give him or her no hint of an inner life. No matter how hard we work or how wonderful we are, one cannot understand, predict, or control the beloved.