1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    How long is too long to introduce the villain?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jan 8, 2016.

    There have been some stories that keep the villain a mystery character until the near the end.

    However, with mine, I want the villain to in the first scene, cause the first scene is the inciting event, which he incites himself, since he is the villain who starts everything of course.

    But then I want to keep him a mystery character for the MC to find and keep him off the page until over half way through the story.

    Is this too long for the reader to want to see him again after his first and will wonder too much about when he is coming back, since the story starts out with getting a dramatic introduction from him?

    Most stories will either have the villain appear consistently throughout, from the beginning, or they will save him as a mystery character that is discovered later on.

    But to introduce him in the first scene, then not have him reappear till over halfway through, I have never seen that before. Could it leave the reader hanging perhaps?
     
  2. Bandag
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    This is actually a well used technique. The villain is established in the first scene as being way stronger than the protagonist and friends. Then you flip focus to the good guys, who go through a whole bunch of growth and development until you think that they juuuuust might have a genuine shot at the big bad. Then the big bad reappears and lays the smack down, shattering all your optimism.
     
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  3. Charis Anwyn
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    Charis Anwyn New Member

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    Depends if your villain is the main character? E.g. if your main focus him or the hero? You could build him up initially, like the first chapter is the villain going about his villainy duties, creating a bond with the reader and character (to be loved or not) and then rotate it to the hero, until later in the story where they return. This can give the reader a complex where they're either rooting for the villain to succeed or the hero?

    I don't have a problem reading about a character who doesn't return again until later in the story. More so when I know there's a battle to be had when the other comes back.
     
  4. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    My main antagonist is talked about/known about but isn't shown until chapter 19 out of 22. There's plenty of minor villains to keep the characters busy throughout the story but the main antagonist is only indirectly involved until the end when he becomes more directly involved.

    I don't think there's an answer to your question. Introduce your main antagonist whenever it makes sense for you to.
     
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  5. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Well the thing is, is that I want to introduce the main antagonist later because of a twist that is revealed, and I want to keep the twist, a twist. However, I am worried that readers might be wondering what the villain is doing and why is he doing it, since it's not really explained till over halfway through, after he is revealed, and he talks about the situation to another character.

    At this point the reader will think, 'Oh, so that's what is going on all along', but I am afraid that since the reader will not know what the villain is doing and why, they may feel that either the story does not make sense, or they do not like the explanation being held off. Could this be a problem, by the sound of it?
     
  6. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I als introduced my villain in the very first scene. Made sure through brief scenes on and off that he stays around in the mind, as a menacing alternate storyline, getting nearer and nearer. At about the halfway point the two realities meet and then there is no turning away anymore :twisted:
     
  7. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    Is the antagonist and what he is doing the only driving force for conflict in the story? I have no problem reading a book if nothing about the main antagonist is known until half way through the book.. assuming the first half is still full of other conflicts and obstacles the characters must overcome.
     
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  8. Caeben
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    Caeben Member

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    Have you read Game of Thrones? Because, depending on who you see as the "primary" villain, he does exactly what you want to do (and is a glorious bastard for it).
     
  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Yes their are still other conflicts with the plot and other characters. The MC has a mystery to figure out and a culprit to catch, even though he doesn't know who he is, and trying to find out. There is also a character you you think is good, but is bad and in collusion with the antagonist, and there is also another character that you think is bad, and then turns out good, and things like that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
  10. Wolfmaster1234
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    Wolfmaster1234 Member

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    I would say it depends on the premise of the villain. If he is the sole antagonist of the story and you don't introduce him early it may be difficult to see where the story if going and the reader might see earlier part of the story as not particularly necessary. But if he is more of the arch villain type leaving his reveal till later could build up suspense and mystery of who is actually behind everything. But really as long as there is a reason in the story he is introduced straight away and doesn't return till halfway through I don't see any problem with it.
     
  11. Raven484
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    Raven484 Contributing Member

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    In my opinion, having the villain introduced to the main character half way through the story is fine if you flow the story correctly.
    I write sci/fi and I story I wrote did not even introduce the villain the first 150 pages. I used the beginning to build up the MC and his flaws. Only after I got the reader to really know the character is when I introduced his main adversary.
    Initial beta readers helped me with the editing of the beginning chapters to help the storyline make sense. Once I got it, all was well with the story.
    It can work, as long as you make some minor challenges for you MC before you throw him into the storm.
     
  12. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    I can do that for the MC. My story starts out with a subplot, involving the villain, and the consequences that come out of the subplot, create the main plot for the MC. But the villain is not directly part of the main plot yet, and the subplot he is in, does not come into fully play with the main plot until a little over halfway through, which is why I am saving him as a mystery character until then, if that makes sense.

    But the MC still has the challenge of the other two characters to have conflict with the other two characters. I feel that the reader may become confused as the story starts out with a subplot, then goes to the main plot, but will wonder why the subplot is on hold, and it will not make sense to them once the subplot comes back to bite the story, the later, if that's okay.
     

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