At first, this Winter Lord, who eventually acquired the name Kargor, had little presence as a character. Like Sauron, he was a distant menace, seen in occasional distant glimpses, but mostly by the effects of his oppression. When he finally made a direct appearance, though, he pretty much ran the gamut of Standard Dark Lord Behaviour, insulting and abusing enemies and minions alike. I think I resisted having him cackle, but little else.
Not that the character was entirely generic — I did put some thought into the psychology. Kargor has a flame (now called the Tryst Flame, though it was unnamed back then) which ensures his invulnerability, and I did somewhat develop the duality of the confidence and the paranoia this gives him.
Nevertheless, there was little originality about him, even though the heroes (male and female) were evolving nicely from idealistic action junkies into vulnerable, reluctant heroes. Fortunately, the version I wrote in the late 70s failed to interest publishers, and when I finally came back to The Winter Legend, ten years later, I'd evolved enough as a writer and a person to rethink my villain.
There were two main problems. Well, three, counting the simple fact that the character was just plain clichéd. The first was that I had another, more minor villain, a mortal king, who was almost exactly the same. There was actually more justification with this character, Jekaini. For one thing, he was very much in the tradition of rulers who are delicately balanced between insane and psychopathic — my original idea for him was a kind of mash-up of the Emperor Caligula, Adolf Hitler and Idi Amin. For another, he only makes a couple of brief personal appearances, and the main point about him is the effects of his personal and political tyranny, especially on his children. This worked well enough, but I didn't want two such similar villains.
The other problem was a more practical issue. When we first meet Kargor, he's only recently been defeated and exiled, yet within a year he's established a kingdom and gathered a large, loyal following. While minions might take abuse from a successful leader whose power they hope to share, why would anyone follow a powerless exile who clearly doesn't value them?
The revised character who emerged from my cogitations was very different: pleasant, charismatic, cultured and genuinely loyal to his friends and followers, yet still vacillating between confidence in his invulnerability and morbid terror of what might happen to him if he were to lose this. Kargor's overwhelming concern is his own safety, and it's this obsession — treated very much as an addiction — that leads him conquer and commit atrocities.
He also gives some hints of his earlier life, and the circumstances that led to the obsessions and grudges that drive him. I've recently begun writing stories about that very young Kargor (then called Karaghr, or Kari) and his girlfriend Failiu. Two largely clueless teenagers dabbling in sorcery they don't fully understand, they are charming, amoral and driven by insatiable curiosity as they wander through their world. Nevertheless, in these stories (including The Temple of Taak-Resh) Kari and Fai are the people the reader's meant to root for, and I find it fascinating to explore this very different side of my villain.
It's been largely through this process that I've discovered a simple fact which, however many older and/or wiser people might tell us this, each author has to discover for themselves — that villains, like heroes, are nothing more or less than people. They may be people we admire or people we hope we'll never encounter, but people. It's when we let go of thinking about the creation of a Villain that we can finally start creating genuine villains.