Your Villain Right and Wrong
The best approach to understanding your villain is to look at their world view. In the villain’s eyes, their beliefs and actions are justified. The villain may feel unjustly harmed by the victim. Or his killing may feel, to him, like justifiable revenge. Or, her cold-blooded calculation is rational in her belief system.
However you conceive the villain’s motivation, throughout the story they will remain firm that their world is correct, and the killing justified. So, your villain is right in their world while wrong in the world of your story.
The Villain Portrait in the Mystery
You can reveal the villain layer by layer as he moves through the story.
- How the villain relates to other characters (suspects)
- The lies he tells to hide his secret
- His stated beliefs in dialogue
- How other characters see his relationship with the victim
- The action, clue, or dialogue that is misread by the sleuth
- The action, clue, or dialogue that reveals the murder to the sleuth
In your background, focus on the relationship between the villain and the victim. Their relationship is the basis for the murder and the sleuth’s involvement. Think of ways the two connected, then the ways things went wrong, and finally the one incident that tipped the villain to murder.
- How did they get together?
- Was their relationship ever positive?
- What caused the turn?
Like any story research, you may use only 20% of the relationship you create. Experienced writers know that rich background allows for opportunities to use details as they are writing. Even, you, the writer, may not know which details you will use in your mystery until you are writing.
The Open Good and Hidden Bad
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