Again, the subject of realism comes into play. A reader wants to escape into another world when they read, but if it doesn’t seem at all realistic, it could result in failure. Is your villain a creature or a human? Let’s stick with human for the purpose of this advice. Write a word document for yourself. What’s his name, age and personality? How did he grow up? If he was to be put into your own high school, what type of kid would he be? What you need to remember here is to make sure you don’t make him all-evil.
Give him reasons for why he now is the way he is. Was he always picked on? Was he a leader who never got taken seriously? Is he after revenge?
Make him grey
This is probably my top advice – make your villain grey – as in – he has a good side as well. Make it so that if you put yourself in his exact shoes in life, you might have made the same decisions he did! To give it even more contrast, make your ‘good guys’ grey as well. As long as they are not hobbits eg. happy, fun and loving people, constantly helping each other, make your good side just as grey as the villain. Ask yourself, if I grew up on the good side, would I agree with their practices completely, or would I consider changing sides? If so, why?
Reasons for power
Lastly, is your villain a leader of some sort? A King? A Sorcerer? A Magician? If so, what are the reasons for him being in this position? How did he rise to this role and gain this power? Make it realistic. Did he slowly rise to power and always had enough men on his side, or did he kill/defeat the previous leader and created fear in his followers? If that is your reason, work out how he was even able to get the chance to defeat the previous leader. Was he nobility, or did he lead a rebellion of some sort?
I hope this gave you some ideas of creating your villain. Remember, the world is not black and white, it is grey!