1. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    Introducing a villain midway

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sophia_esteed, Aug 20, 2010.

    I'm roughly at the end of the first half of the novel I'm writing right now and there's this part where I need the villains to make their apparition, but I'm having troubles implementing them into the narrative.
    All the way up to chapter twenty I've focussed the story almost exclusively on the two main characters, but now I need a change of perspective and introduce the three villains; only I'm having difficulty creating the chance and atmosphere without disrupting the plot as I've developped it till now.
    All the ideas I've taken into account ended up backfiring on me and make their apparition either feel stupid or totally out of place.
    I'm kinda in a deadlock. Have you ever experienced it before? How did you get out of it?
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    What point of view is your novel told from? Could you insert a few chapters througout the book saying what the villains are doing without breaking up your main story>?
     
  3. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    I have, with the book I'm writing now. I had the exact same problem as you in that the baddies didn't come into it 'til the middle. The way I got around it was to have a prologue, giving a very quick glimpse at who the main baddie was and giving the story a kick-start, before going to the main characters.

    It's probably not an ideal way of doing it, and some people may object, but I think it has worked for my story.

    Hope you sort it out soon and without too much trouble.
     
  4. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    To me your problem suggest you don't have a complete storyline before you start writing. Yes, storyline may change during the process of writing a story, but you should at least have a basic one before writing. The way I see it, villains are as important chars as the heroes are, so you should have a basic idea of when they will enter the story when you begin writing. If you do that, you'll find that it really doesn't matter if you introduce them midway or any other part of the story. May be you should revisit your storyline.
     
  5. Diablo Robotico
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    Diablo Robotico Member

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    I would say it would work better if you introduced the villains earlier in the story. Maybe not them personally, but you could have characters mention them (It was done this way in the first Harry Potter book). You could do that, and/or introduce agents that work for the main villain (like henchmen).
     
  6. Daveyboyz
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    Daveyboyz Member

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    I think if you explained a little more fully the nature of your book suggestions might be more forthcoming.

    When is it set? What kind of book is it? Rough overview of perspective and motivations of the good/bad guys.

    If your bad guys are showing up in the good guys domain then they need a motivation to be there and to cross paths with the good guys. If the good guys are going after the bad guys then the good guys pressumably must have done some research to know where to go or what to do. If they have been in the same place as eachother the whole time then you could have introduced them more slowly throughout the book.

    Without knowing the situation I can't be much more specific.
     
  7. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    What about Lord of the Rings? You are never properly introduced to Sauron and the story is never told from his point of view. I know The Lord of the Rings is hardly the greatest example of fiction writing, but it is still a fine piece of literature and the story is a cracker. I actually think it works better than you don't know Sauron's point of view.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sauron was not a villain. Sauron wasn't truly a character, merely a faceless enemy. Yes, he was attributed with certain ways of thinking, but no more so than a ideology like Communism or Fascism. Even when a name is attacched to an ideology, such as Hitler is asociated with Naziism. he is not a character, but rather an avatar for the ideology.

    Sauron's nature was manifest from the second chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring as an embodiment of evil.
     
  9. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Aye, but that begs the question: who was the villain in LOTR. Apart from the ring itself, there isn't one. So there doesn't need to be a villain. And if there doesn't need to be a villain, it doesn't matter if you want to introduce one half-way through. It would just indicate that the story is more of a character study of the "good" characters, rather than a story of good and evil.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story doesn't require an explicit villain, that is true. But the story's principle challenge or opposition need not be manifest from the very beginning, either, as long as there are challenges and difficulties to maintain tension.
     
  11. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    That's the problem I was having with my story. I want my villain to be mysterious and my introduction to be centred around getting the know the characters in a simple village, showing the simpleness and monotony of village life, but it was just getting boring. I've probably taken an easy way out by just throwing a prologue in, hinting at what the dangers might be later, but I think it works quite well. (Surprise, surprise, the villain attacks the simple village, forcing it out of its safety zone. That's never been done before, has it? :p)

    Back to the main question - I don't think there's a problem with introducing a villain half way through, as long as (as Cogito said) there's the challenges and tension.

    I suppose it depends how much you want the reader to know about the enemy. If you really want the readers to dislike the enemy, you'd better make sure they see enough evidence of their crimes - don't just tell the reader to hate them!
     
  12. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    I haven't read/seen Lord of the Rings, so I can't really comment on that specifically, but generally speaking, 'good' and 'evil' are subjective, 'goodness' has always been measured against 'evil', so, 'a char study of "good" chars' will certainly require 'evilness' (as embodiment or as ideology) to be measured against.

    As for introducing an evil char or any char for that matter midway, the writer has to have some idea of when and how he wants to introduce the char. Villains can be introduce as a surprise twist or whatever, without any prior mention, or the writer can plant seeds about the villains and finally introduce it at any stage of the story. Either way, writer should have a rough storyline in his mind before writing the story. You may write 20 chapters and then come up with a villain out of the blue, plants it in the story, storyline and plot magically falls into place, and every thing is good. It can happen if you are lucky, but I sure won't count on such luck (because generally I am a very unlucky person :) )
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Readers have it deeply ingrained into them that all important players must be in the play at the end of first act. If you hold off introducing important characters for too long, it's gonna take a huge chunk of writing skill to not make the reader feel like they were added as an afterthought or some deus ex machina device.

    Consider your setup as laying down the rules of the game. If you introduce a sudden new rule mid-game, most people will feel cheated.
     
  14. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Just to clarify - when I said "good" characters I meant the protagonists of the story, whether they are good or not. That's why I put good in quote marks.

    So, without an explicit villain, the story becomes a character study of the protagonists rather than a tale of good vs. evil.
     
  15. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    I beg to differ. Lando in Empire Strikes Back is a great example.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You can introduce a villain early in a story without explicitly casting him/her as the villain, allowing the reader to discover the evil nature as the story unfolds.
     
  17. Norm
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    Norm Contributing Member

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    1. Find a reason to take a break from your 2 mains. Maybe they are resting after a long battle, maybe they are traveling in a ship across the sea, maybe they are just doing a few days of work in a small town to afford passage through the channel or whatever. Doesn't matter what you pick, but the point is to use this as an opportunity to backtrack about a chapter's worth of story line. Introduce your villains here. Do it like this example:

    Chapter 18: 2 Mains decide to travel by ship to some island as part of their quest.
    Chapter 19: Focus on the villain. Let's say he's on that island because it just so happens to be his secret lair or whatever. Change the detail to fit your plot obviously. End the chapter when the villain gazes down from his throne at the shoreline to see the 2 mains have decided to step foot on his island.
    Chapter 20: 2 Mains are on the island, resume pace as usual.

    The whole point is that while the 2 main characters are doing something not that interesting, that is the perfect time to take a step back and introduce another major character.


    Here's one with the rest I did for my own project that i'm currently working on.

    Chapter 8: MC is in an epic battle against one of the villains, but after the battle he is really beat up and collapses on the floor.
    Chapter 9: Sort of a "Meanwhile.. back at villain HQ" A sort of 'yeah, the hero is resting now so there's not much to talk about, so here's some additional character development!!'
    Chapter 10: MC wakes up and continues on his mission.
     
  18. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    But Lando is never much of an important character with the audience. He's a plot device more than anything else.
     
  19. sophia_esteed
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    sophia_esteed Senior Member

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    Thanks to all of you. Now I've got different solutions to think about.
    I'll try to write some of them down on a notebook and then see which works better.
     

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