1. frigocc

    frigocc Senior Member

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    How Long Is Too Long Until You Meet Villain In Novel?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by frigocc, Mar 1, 2019.

    Basically, want to have about 55k words in my novel. Initially was thinking 75k, but my novel will be broken down into 11 distinct sections. About 5k words apiece brings me to 55k. I still fear that the small word count would hurt my chances of traditional publishing (the only publishing I'd preferably like to do), but let me know what you guys think.

    Anyways, my main character superhero doesn't really have any run-ins until about 6k words in. Is this too long, in your mind? It's not all exposition before that, more of nothing really happening (it's a satirical piece, and part of the humor is that it's pretty damn hard to walk down the street and just find crime).

    I don't want it to drag on and bore my readers, but I also don't want to break the linear plot I've developed. I think it fits the story well.
     
  2. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    There's no way to know that without reading those 6K words.
     
  3. -oz

    -oz Active Member

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    All stories are about how characters react to change.

    To answer your question, it depends on the kind of story you're trying to tell. If it were a normal, everyday life kind of story, I would recommend having the antagonist/villain/change show sooner, since we all know about the world we live in. That being said, you used the word superhero. In this case, a bit of world building can be helpful, since we don't know what "normal" is for your story. Establish normality, then introduce change. (Don't bore your readers though– I recommend letting someone you trust to give you honest feedback read your story.)
     
  4. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    I get that your superhero is "looking" for crime and has a hard time finding it until you have so many words in the story. I would be interested in his failure to find crime, that could be hilarious! When he finally does find it, is it really a crime or is just another failure? Oh the twists and turns you could create.
     
  5. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    Including the irony of looking for crime, not finding it, but committing acts of heroism-- that he doesn't think of as such, because he's a "crime-fighting superhero"--along the way.
     
  6. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

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    You don't necessarily have to meet the villain until later so long as you see evidence of their villainy. In my WIP, you don't actually see any of the villains until chapter 8, but the main characters experience the ramifications of what they're doing starting in chapter 2.
     
  7. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I like introducing my antagonist in some form somewhere in the 10-25 percent mark of my stories. It doesn't have to be a confrontation, just enough to give the reader and the antagonist a taste of what's to come. You could easily do it sooner, or later (though I don't recommend too much later) depending on your story and how it flows.
     
  8. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    In my current WIP, I'm 32k words in of an estimated 145k words, and my main villain has yet to appear or be mentioned yet, and won't for at least another 15k words, though their influence has been felt and minor villains connected to them have appeared.
    I don't think there's any problem with that so as long you have some good conflict and tension in the story without the villain appearing.
     
  9. Just a cookiemunster

    Just a cookiemunster Active Member

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    I had the same question actually. I didn't bother asking though because I feel like it's subjective to the story and due to the way the story is constructed I really could not have him come sooner without making major changes.. My story so far is over 100 thousand words and counting. My villain does not appear until chapter nine 22,438 words in.
     
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  10. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Member

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    That depends. As several posters mentioned, you can have their actions felt long before you encounter them in person. In my w.i.p. the overarching villain of the trilogy is the 2nd character you meet and the 1st pov, but you don't actually know he is the main big bad who triggered everything until sometime in the 2nd book. You get hints that something is off about him in the 1st book but he is using the main character to further his own goals so plays (mostly) nice.
     
  11. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    Ultimately, I think it really depends on how it's written. Without having read it, I'm going to say that if you don't introduce the villain before 6k, you definitely should be introducing them around there. Also, could you introduce a minor villain? Just someone to keep interest sparked? That way you could introduce the "main" villain a little bit later.
     
  12. Laughing Rabbit

    Laughing Rabbit Active Member

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    I'm not planning on introducing my main villain at all, really, and the bit towards the end where she does appear is very brief. However, her 'minions' appear and jump start the plot, and is basically the driving force behind everything that is going on throughout the book. If I do it right it should work out fine. So, if you want to wait on having your main villain appear, I don't see a problem with it. There are some books I've read in the past that were quest style, and the MC's didn't meet the main villains until the towards the end either, but they did have adventure and problems along the way towards their goal. It's just a matter of writing it well.
     
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  13. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    I'd your main antagonist/villain should at least be alluded to by the end of Act 1, or around 25% of the way through.

    The main villain of the novel I currently have out on submission doesn't show up until the end of Chapter 8 (which was also the end of the First Act), but he's mentioned a few times before that. And I had another set of villains providing conflict before this point.
     
  14. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Living in my own little world Contributor

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    It really depends on the story, though I agree with what several others have said. You don't have to introduce the main villain right away. In my fantasy story, the master villain isn't even revealed until 85% through the story, and my MC doesn't even know who he is the entire time. This is because the master villain works through another character at first, and that is who is causing problems to my MC. But even he is using other lackeys to do parts of the job for him....so we have many characters going after my MC, yet they are acting on the orders of one main master villain. So you see, there are many ways of bringing your main villain into the story without actually having your villain there.
    Is there any conflict in the first part of your story? Conflict can be as simple as something not going your hero's way to as complex as the villain stepping out of the shadows and decking him. But if nothing is challenging your hero, if everything is going his way, if butterflies and birdies are flying around and there's music in the air.....then we have a problem, because that can turn to boring quickly.
     
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