I titled this post the way I did because I’m going to talk about, you guessed it, The Villain. It’s not just about the villain though. This post is about the introduction of the villain.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve always written stories, particularly short stories. In each one of them I’ve never introduced the villain first. It was always the hero then the villain then their conflict(s), etc. This is usually how it’s done, yes? But my question is why?
Of the three novels I have waiting to be published, the sequel to one I just finished, only one introduces the villain first (after the prologue). In that project I start with a prologue. Personally I like prologues and really don’t understand why they are ‘taboo’ if you will (that’s for another post I suppose). Anyway, after the prologue chapter one begins with my villain and his minions. What is the BIG DEAL here? Have I taken away the mystery of who the hero is after? Have I diminished the story in anyway? Highly unlikely because there is more than one villain, the second of whom is introduced much later in the book. Perhaps I should explain this.
In my novel (the one I’m currently querying at the moment), there is a prologue which introduces my heroine. It is in this prologue that I set up her internal conflict and subsequent backstory which plays into the story of the novel. Then comes chapter one in which I introduce the main villain who my heroine will be going after. However, in her pursuit of bringing this bad guy down she learns of an even darker evildoer she must bring down as well. This more sinister guy is introduced as a mystery in early chapters and maintains a presence throughout the novel but his motive and identity is introduced later in the book.
But even if this wasn’t the case and I only had one bad guy, what’s the problem with introducing the bad guy first as long as I haven’t given the ‘meat and potatoes’ away?
I understand about getting the reader acquainted with the hero and making that connection and all that jazz. All I’m saying is what’s wrong with changing it up a little? Why not get the reader acquainted with the bad guy and make them hate his guts for something other than because he’s giving the hero a hard time?
It seems like to me that introducing either the bad guy or hero first could work both ways.
P.S.- besides, the novel I’m talking about in this post has a sequel which continues with the heroine in its chapter one 🙂