1. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Is this a character flaw I need to solve in my villain?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ryan Elder, Jul 11, 2015.

    I got some friends and a couple of writers to read over an outline of my story to see if it all holds together and it works.

    Basically the villain is a serial killer type who keeps getting away with it and dodging the police. The police do not know who it is. However, one cop who has a grudge against him because of something in the past wants to bring him down, even if he has to do it on his own time. He figures out who the killer might be and needs to do something to smoke him out and get him to implicate himself, if that makes sense.

    Basically he calls the killer and threatens him saying he has evidence on him and if he wants it back, come and get it. He hangs up and hopes this will get the suspect to go through a series of actions to get him to a certain place to implicate himself. It's kind of like a scene like this from the movie 8MM (1999), just as an example. Please pardon the foul language in it.



    However, I got some negative feedback from a couple of readers saying my villain would not fall for it. He has been so smart to evade the police and all the murder investigations over the years that he would not fall for a bluff, and see it for what it is. If the main cop after him, which he does not know is after him, called him and threatened him like that, he would just say to him something like "If you had anything on me, I would be in custody right now", and he would hang up the phone and go about his day.

    He would not fall for a bluff, and do something to incriminate himself, since he is so smart and it's inconsistent with his character. What do you think? Is this a problem, and he cannot be fooled into a situation where he would drop his guard and give the cop a lead, which is what I want?
     
  2. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    I've recently come across something similar in a book I've been reading on and off for the last few months -- Stephen King's Mr Mercedes -- and though one would think that the serial killer is too smart to fall for such a ploy, there are ways to make it work. In Mr Mercedes, Stephen King plays on a very common aspect of a serial killers psyche: their ego, and using that to make them literally take risks that could potentially expose themselves in the name of recognition. Serial killers hate it when others take credit for their 'work,' and that's one of their weaknesses. A good example is the Zodiac killer; he used to gloat on his murders through the press.

    However, saying this, I feel like it's really overused and I think you should come up with something more original, but on them lines. Serial killers are considered to be highly intelligent, but also very flawed in many other ways.

    Hope this helps.

    On a side note, 8MM is an awesome film! :)
     
  3. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. I am just using it as a stepping stone to get the rest of the investigation started. Is their something else I could use as as stepping stone, for the cop to figure out he may have the right man? I mean the villain is going to have to make some mistake. If he made no mistakes at all, the case would either have to go unsolved or the cops would have to take the most likely suspect and shoot him to death, in order just to stop the killings from going on. But in order to figure out they have the right man, he has to make some mistake.

    The reason why I use this cliche though, is because in my story, after the cop makes that threatening phone call on his own time, the killer thinks it's a different cop after he and he goes and kills that different cop. The main cop then gets in a lot of trouble which plays into the story I want. So I need the cop to get the killer spooked into killing a different cop, in order for the main cop to get into trouble, if that makes sense. If I shouldn't use it cause it's a cliche, is there a different or better method I should take?
     
  4. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes. It is indeed important to remember that problems like this tend to stem from a lack of explaining.

    If you explain why the normally smart bad guy made a stupid mistake. Whether it is their ego or a weakness(how they worry about a loved one) the point is if we understand the mistake then the mistake is a plot point and a correct one at that. Instead of being a plot hole.
     
  5. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    Well, there are two sides to cliches: one side is that they're overused and maybe getting tedious, but the other side is because it's fact. Serial killers are egoistic and tend to gloat about their work, so cliche or not, it could possibly happen.

    What I'm saying is, using something along them lines, but maybe try a different angle, like maybe false evidence on the news? Is there any third party that the killer can hear something from, like on the grapevine kind of thing?

    You should maybe just spend an evening with a notepad jotting down some ideas, especially if this is an important part of the story, and it sounds like it is -- the catalyst.
     
  6. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    That's true. I wanted to make the villain who is brought down to his demise realizing that he is not as smart as he thinks he is. But I guess if he's smart enough to get away with crimes over the years, then he is as smart as he thinks he is, and this may not work?

    I thought of the false evidence on the news thing. But the thing is, if the cop goes in the news for example and says, we have this evidence, then the villain is going to go double check to see if they actually do. The villain will then see that they do not have it and he was tricked into implicating himself through actions.

    However, this is a big coincidence because he would lead the cops to the exact evidence, that they chose to pick for the news. It just feels to convenient, if the exact evidence the cops bluff with, just so happens to be the evidence the villain has, if that makes sense.

    Unfortunately no, the cop is working alone and I cannot think of third parties at this point, cause all the cop has to go on is threatening him. If he had a third party, then the cop just use evidence from the third party, and wouldn't have to call the villain. But if he used a third party, then the villain would not take the cop to the evidence himself, and the rest of my story will not work then, if that makes sense.

    I don't know if I would call it the catalyst. It happens in the last half of my story where as the villain's crimes in the first half, are more like the catalyst. This method is more of a method the main character uses to get a lead. I am not sure if that has a name in story structure lol.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2015
  7. The Mad Regent
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    The Mad Regent Contributing Member

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    It sounds like a fun story, but also quite complex. It's hard to make any suggestions of substance without being in your shoes, but I'm sure there will be a way if you dwell on it for a while.

    There is the alternative of just scrapping that idea and making thinking up a whole other method to get the antagonist to slip up, but that could be a lot of work. :)

    Does the antagonist spy on the protagonist at all? I'm sure if you looked at every detail of their lives you will come up with something that you can bend to the will of the story.
     
  8. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    The antagonist does not spy on the protagonist at all in this point of the story. It's pretty much the other way around at this point. Mainly I just need the protagonist to get the antagonist to go a certain place, where he keeps his safe, that has a piece of evidence in it. I need the protagonist to get the antagonist to go there, in order for the antagonist to incriminate himself with the evidence. But I haven't been able to think of the best of ways to get him to go there. I will keep thinking.
     
  9. Red Herring
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    If intelligence can't stop him, maybe he can use his character weakness against him. You have to find his weakness and use it against him. The cop calling the serial killer to talk to him about evidence he has against him doesn't seem like something an intelligent serial killer would fall for; it wouldn't make sense to me either because why would a cop call the killer on evidence he has against him when he can use that to either set up a warrant or build up a case without the killer's knowledge.

    Serial killers are sometimes known to be egoistic, impulsive, and at times very particular with their victims. Sometimes they want to get caught, which in your case doesn't seem to be the case. But perhaps there is a pattern to his impulsion or his victims that you can use against him in your story? Is there a rhyme and reason to his killings, are there things that they killers have in common that the cop can use. And sense he knows who he is, as sadistic as this is, either use surveillance to stock the killer or find the next possible victims.

    But I agree with your readers, calling the killer with pretense of having evidence to smoke him out doesn't make sense; but it would be a nice way of having it fire back on the cop and getting the killer to unwantedly notice him.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    Okay thanks. There are weaknesses to use against him but his weaknesses don't really have to with why he decides to go to the storage unit. I need him to go there specifically, for the story to go the way I want, so perhaps I need to appeal to something else other than his weaknesses. I mean his reason for killing doesn't really have to have anything to do with the storage unit, but I need him to go there after.
     

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