There's nothing more satisfying than writing a twist villain. The person that everyone trusts or nobody suspects, who ends up being the mastermind for all the evil stuff that happened all along.
The person that everyone defers to for advice, that leans on for support, that is there to carry the heroes through their weakest moments and knows them the best…
…and uses that knowledge to subtly but devastatingly ruin their lives, destroy their plans, make sure they never get to their goal or save what needs to be saved.
Until, of course, they're revealed.
Or are they?
There are some stories where the villain that poses as the good guy is never revealed, and gets away with it. We watch him/her walk away smugly as the Plot's Ruins smoke in the background.
But often, the main characters do realize it was him'her all along. Usually, it's a big moment of horrific realization, and then the villain drops their ‘good guy’ mask.
That scene can be the jewel in the crown of a story's plot, or it can be the letdown or even the source of the audience's frustration.
In Disney's Frozen, the twist villain Hans does not offer the same gleeful gasp as Wreck It Ralph's King Candy. In fact, Hans caught a lot of flak as the worst twist villain and a cheat on the writer's part regarding how he was presented to the audience.
The reason for that is that Hans gives no clues that he may not be all he seems. The biggest culprit for that is the notorious boat scene where he smiles goofily at Anna (while she's not looking) as if he's truly falling for her like any garden variety Disney Prince.
The twist villain is an excellent trope, but it works well only when tiny hints, in the dialogue, in the behaviors, in the body language and in the choices the cover villain makes can give away that he/she is actually a villain. The point is for them to be subtle enough to be generally overlooked when the story is enjoyed for the first time, but when read/watched for the second time, all these hints will be jumping out at the reader/viewer with an ‘ahhh how did I miss that before’ sensation.
And of course, if a twist villain is done right, then some people in the audience will guess the villain's real nature before the big reveal… AND THAT'S OKAY. If someone is an evil bastard, SOMEONE will get wind of it no matter how good they are, in literature and in real life. The point is how many, how fast, and how much it will matter in the long run.
So have you got any twist villains in your story? How are you handling them until the big reveal, if there is one?
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, June 5, 2021
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