Hide Your Villain in Plain Sight

Hide your villain in plain sight to get maximum leverage out of him. Your reader will thank you when he closes that book feeling sated and satisfied that he didn’t see that coming – no, sirree, not at all. Not one bit.

And let’s face it – villains are crooked, corrupt, deceitful and cunning. Of course they’re going to hide themselves where you lease expect it. It only makes sense. Why would he run around with a sign above his head screaming that he’s the villain? It would make his victims run full speed away from him.

But how to hide the big bad wolf in your story so you can reveal him in a delicious or creepy twist? Here’s how – think of some of the worst criminals in the world and use what they did.

1. Handsome and Likeable

Think Ted Bundy and Paul Bernardo. Both good-looking fellows who women fell for, not realizing what lurked behind those attractive faces. Yes, there might be villains who look like evil monsters but they tend to be in Disney films like Cruella de Vil and others of her ilk. Most modern day villains could be the guy or girl next door.

2. The Hero’s Friend

Best place to hide the baddie is in plain sight. Let him be best buds with your protagonist, there at every party, there at every event – helping the hero out. But make sure that this comes across as sincere in order for the reader to believe that the person is a mentor or true friend. The trick is to lay clues that when the reader flips back they will notice them.

3. Harmless and Incompetent

Fool your reader by giving them the impression that the villain in an incompetent fool or harmless – perhaps someone who is physically unable to do horrible deeds. And maybe he or she physically can’t. Perhaps the villain is the mastermind and has minions to do their dirty deeds. Think Voldermort here – never one for dirtying his own creepy long fingers, but very adept at getting minions like Quirrell and others to do his dastardly deeds.

4. Make the Villain Likable

It might be tough to pull this off, but not everyone is one shade of black or white. Even villains have hearts. The hearts might be on the black side, but no one has no redeeming qualities. Perhaps he has a cutting wit or likes dogs. Show his warm and cuddly side until the end. It will make his bad reveal so much more powerful. Your readers might hate you for what you do to them but they won’t forget it … and will come back for more.

Who is your favorite villain?

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2 thoughts on “Hide Your Villain in Plain Sight

  1. Cathy Hendrix

    Good points Bev! You’ve made me pause and think about my own characters. Although my main villain is pretty obvious, I’m going to have a second character who turns out not to be a good guy. Thanks!

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