/lit/ help a newbie out. I'm not able to come up with a decent motivation for the villain in my thriller novel. Since the motive of the villain is the main reveal kinda at the end, a weak motive makes it a weak story.
So the villain is basically evil masquerading as good. For many years he was a forest ranger after retiring from the army and tried to protect animals and stop poachers in a remote African country. However, at one point he just got fed up, stopped being good and started killing poachers and made it seem like animals were killing it in a sorta supernatural justice. This is the "reveal plot" mind you, the one that slowly unravels as you progress through the mystery, not the main plot.
He was a seasoned ranger veteran for years. Saw countless animals get killed - antlers for their horns, elephants for their tusk, tigers for their skin, paw and whiskers, etc etc. Killed a good many poachers in armed encounters too. Just what was it that made him go over the edge and become an outlaw poacher serial killer?
In my reading experience, the best villains are those whose agony (that compelled them to commit their evil) is so intense that the reader feels that he'd do it too. The reader must feel their pain and rationalise his/her evil in their heads. But then the hero comes up and stops it, and the readers feel "yeah, society would crumble if we all behave like this".. and it is all very cathartic, taking the reader through an emotional rollercoaster.
Killing a favourite baby elephant for a guy whose career involves death (of fellow soldiers, fellow rangers and park animals) and dealing with it to continue with his duty doesn't just feel strong enough.
He went over the edge because his wife, who he wedded and bedded against mother nature's better judgement (he hears the echoes of the winds and waters...they instruct him on best practice throughout his life), aborted his unborn child. She parades around the organ parts, preserved by plan parenthood (which by some unintended legality and the close scrutiny of public opinion in wake of recent events, CANNOT be sold as they were intended but are given back to her), like trophies; hanging them on the walls, no better than a buck's head. Part of it is a political agenda and media attention that she craves, part of it is destroying her husband for buying her a beautiful fur coat three Christmases ago (she's Puerto-Rican Jewish but she still celebrates Christmas with him because she was raised secular). He had always had a strange pragmatism in his respect for animals and could appreciate the rustic primordial necessity that is a fur coat. She, on the other hand, a bleeding heart activist and candy-store convictioneer, needed to destroy a part of him for that gesture and this is how she did it. Suddenly, the difference between man and beast, child and prey, unravels for him. And funny enough, his reaction...inspired for his greatest hatred for her...results in an unyielding adherence to exactly what she wanted him to do. Naturally, she should never appear in the narrative action of the story.