But whenever I sit down to pull together a new villain, I have to work and work to get back to one idea. The why. Until I understand why a particular character is doing something, I usually have a hard time coming up with the specific things he or she might do.
Trust me, I write pages of outline, discard the pages, keep digging, keep trying to understand until I finally get deep enough inside the character that I understand 'why.'
With 'why,' a key unlocks all the troubles I might be having. A 'why' says what a character might plan, how a character would react to adversity and outright failure. A 'why' is the soul of a character.
Also much more, like in real life. Here's an interesting YouTube/TED video on the subject. Good stuff:
Lately, I've been on something of a reading binge. I find myself putting down books and wondering about the 'why' more often than not. The book might have been exciting (or, sometimes, dull), but usually the 'why' is still a mystery on the last page.
I think that's almost a failure if a careful reader can't get the why. It reminds me, in my writing, to work harder.