1. NomDeGuerre

    NomDeGuerre Member

    Sep 27, 2015
    Likes Received:

    New Characters in Act 2 of a novel???

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by NomDeGuerre, Oct 23, 2016.

    Hey all, I'm wondering if you can introduce a major character in Act 2 of a novel. Using James Scott Bell's 3-Act structure it would be after the "First Doorway of No Return" (or First Turning Point). This would be after the 12,000-word mark of my 60,000-word novel.

    I have a main villain, but simply don't have the room to explore him in the first 12,000 words. I have a main protagonist, but also three other minor characters (his friends who together form a gang). So it's an ensemble piece and just to set those guys up and rush to the "First Doorway of No Return" is eating up pages.

    I know the general rule is you have to establish the main bad guy early. But are there any exceptions?

    My basic structure is a bank heist plot. So my first Act sets up the robbers and then shows them planning then robbing a bank ("First Doorway of No Return"). In the aftermath of the robbery (start of Act 2) is when the main villain shows up.
  2. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
    Likes Received:
    I don't quite understand (or want to) the formula you're applying here, but in general, it's a good idea to introduce your antagonist early on—because it's the protagonist/antagonist thing that makes the story. Without an antagonist, your story can get stalled.

    However, I think it might be possible to actually 'introduce' this person in the middle of the novel if you've forecast him much earlier on. For example, if he's somebody the other robbers talk about a lot, or are afraid of, or something like that. Even if this antagonist isn't mentioned by name, but the reader KNOWS there's somebody else out there pulling the strings, this could be a suspense-building trick that works well.
    TheWriteWitch and Simpson17866 like this.
  3. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

    Jan 12, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Are you speaking about the plot as in the following?:

    Act I
    Act II
    Act III

    And yes, in my opinion that sounds like quite a plausible idea. I mean, as long as you have something worth telling about in the first acts then you can introduce a major character in a later one. However, dive deep into why they are there and what they do to add to the story.
  4. Justin Berak

    Justin Berak Member

    May 24, 2016
    Likes Received:
    It is definitely plausible! Just make sure your goal is to make the plot work better, not to make it all more engrossing. To draw people in more you're going to want to develop your characters already created into more intimate beings.
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Aug 1, 2016
    Likes Received:
    East devon/somerset border
    Its definitely doable , but it might not be a bad idea to foreshadow a bit in the early 'act' so that its not a complete surprise. In my current WIP I introduce the principal antag "Tiger Khan" in about act 20 , but by that point I've already laid the ground work about his team being traitors who turned mercenary at a point before the story began , then later introduced Tiger's now ex wife as a minor character and used that as an opportunity to talk about my main Protag once being the only member of the team not to turn etc

    So when I get to the point of actually introducing Tiger as a current character , the reader already has some idea of his backstory and relation to the protag, so he doesn't totally just fall out of the sky
  6. Ryan Elder

    Ryan Elder Banned

    Apr 15, 2015
    Likes Received:
    Lots of stories will introduce new characters in the second act, cause they want to save them for surprises, or feel that they just didn't fit the set up on the first act. I think it should be fine, since it is done often.
    cydney likes this.
  7. karmazon

    karmazon Member

    Dec 25, 2007
    Likes Received:
    First of all, you shouldn't worry about silly rules like that.

    However speaking of rules, even Blake Snyder's save the cat speaks about introducing characters in the 2nd act. And if Save the Cat mentions it, it means that the practice is as commonplace as dirt.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice