Some people turn their insecurity into a weapon. We all know people like this. I do, for sure! It's easy to make them out to be more than they are, because they get pretty damned good at it. Funny thing is, they'd deny their insecurity to the bone, though what does that leave them as? Just mean, I guess. But most people would rather be mean than weak, if they had to choose between the two, and so they are... Mean.
I'm working with a character based on this concept. He's a red herring to a degree, and yet he's mean enough to be an antagonist in his own right. I can see how I've built him up into this thing without putting much thought into it: you know how there are perfectly awful people who have a following; Hitlers with otherwise smart entourages? That's this guy all over. I'm thinking through how I can use those elements to further frustrate my protagonists.
But honing him is tough. Cuz while I talk a good game and I've been on the receiving end of insecure meanness more times than I can count--I think I'm being bullied right now, though I'm kinda busy so I haven't had time to think much about it-- I don't really get it. I don't really understand. How can being shitty to others, making others feel bad, somehow make someone feel better?
I guess I suspect it doesn't. I see it backfire on these types: they run through friends like whipped cream melting in hot chocolate. People talk nasty behind their backs. And it's all controllable by them. They could stop the ugliness if they wanted. But they don't.
So maybe they're a bit insane? Isn't the definition of insanity doing the same thing over with the same ineffectual result? Hmm, might be a characteristic for this antagonist...
I don't really like analyzing it. I'd just as soon ignore it. (Which is why, I suspect, I'm on the receiving end so often: I just don't care enough to make over these people, and they really do like being made over...ooo, there's a scene idea...) I'd like to skip the whole thing. But apparently the old subconscious is telling me different. So I'm off to read a little bit on narcissism, bullying, and meanness.
What awful trait(s) have you given your antagonist?