In my last Scooby-inspired post, I noted that there were a couple of problems with the Scooby monsters and talked about the convenience factor in plotting. I noted in passing that the other issue hinges on transportation. Well, not just that, but how these monsters interact with their environment. Basically, most of the time, any fool could see that it’s just a guy in a rubber suit.
Real monsters wouldn’t let themselves get turned away from the stadium because they don’t have ticket. They’re not confused by Scooby suddenly putting on a hat. They don’t strap on roller skates just because the heroes do–real monsters don’t ask for a fair fight!
What *would* the monster do? It would make use of its own best attributes in order to take full advantage of any mistake or opportunity given by the protagonists. Not only is the villain not waiting around to do things when it’s convenient for the protagonist, he’s actively looking for ways to get his own work done–generally killing the hero or otherwise disrupting his plan for Happily Ever After.
This ties in to the idea of making inventories to generate plot points. In this case, you’re inventorying the villain. What skills, talents, or special tools does the bad guy have that he would be dying to use? He has fangs, wings, a tail, a ray gun–items that, for the rubber suit, are merely accessories, but for the real monster have useful and nasty traits. Take a closer look at your antagonists. Are they using their own skills to best advantage? Are you forgetting about some interesting attribute, or, worse yet, holding it back because you want to surprise the reader at some later date regardless of its utility at the present time? To transform that rubber suit into flesh-and-blood, you’ll need to go deeper. Imagine your villain is Indiana Jones. He doesn’t have a sword fight in the street–he yanks out his pistol and pops the guy.
In short, the villain needs to be every bit as motivated and resourceful as the hero–using what he’s got to advance his goals in the story on his own schedule. It can be painful to truly give the villain his due and let him run rampant the way he really wants to. It also makes your hero stronger to have a worthy opponent. The next time those meddling kids come around, let your villain be ready.