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When to reveal main villain? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

When to reveal main villain?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
Shimmitar
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When to reveal main villain?

Postby Shimmitar » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:44 pm

So, in my book, the main villain is revealed at the end of the first chapter. Now, i'm not sure if that's a good idea, but it kind of flows with the book and gives the main character and his friends a goal, from the get go. So, what i'm wondering is...if it's a good idea or not, to reveal the main villain of the story in the first chapter or somewhere else?

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onceuponwednesday
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby onceuponwednesday » Wed Jan 20, 2016 4:51 pm

I'd say reveal the main character wherever they'll make the most impact. In some action-filled stories the villain gets introduced at the start as someone to strive against, and in other books, especially mysteries, you don't know who the villain is until the very end.
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pls
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby pls » Wed Jan 20, 2016 5:57 pm

In Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", the villain turns out to be the friar - had he not meddled in R & J's lives, they would have lived, most likely. But it's only after retrospect that the reader realizes what really has happened in the story.
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nhope
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby nhope » Wed Jan 20, 2016 7:07 pm

His entrance should be when it matters that he appears. You know your story, where it's going, so you decide. Write more words then when you go back and read it, you'll be able to tell if it's too early, too late, or just the right time.

Ron Natalie
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby Ron Natalie » Wed Jan 20, 2016 8:34 pm

Both the "whodunit" style (where the reader doesn't know who the bad guy is) and what I'll call the "Columbo" approach (where you know the bad guy but the protagonist does't) are both valid subgenres. For an example of the latter, I just finished reading Michael Connelly's The Poet. You meet the putative bad guy early on in the book and his story intertwines through the story of those trying to find him throughout the book. The question is how they're going to get there.

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DrG2
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby DrG2 » Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:28 pm

It depends on the story.

I'm inclined to stories where there is no villain or where it's revealed very late (perhaps after several red herrings), but that's just me.

It could be in the prologue.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sat Jan 23, 2016 3:28 pm


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DrG2
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby DrG2 » Mon Jan 25, 2016 11:47 pm


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Terry T.A. Rodgers
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby Terry T.A. Rodgers » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:38 am

And there's not always one.

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pls
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Re: When to reveal main villain?

Postby pls » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:46 am

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