Saturday Creativity Quote — on twists and villains

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Writers working on a mystery or thriller typically focus on the protagonist, the main character, who is often also the narrator, and sometimes a stand-in for the writer. The writer is most interested in that person, the problems they face, how they unmask the villain and save the world or their community. And too often, not enough thought goes into the villain or antagonist –– they are a foil the writer moves around the page, coming up with their motivation (if at all) as an afterthought. It’s hard, I know. Believe me, I know! So I liked this perspective:

The protagonist’s journey in both thrillers and mysteries is effectively the unveiling of the villain’s plan, as experienced by the protagonist. The protagonist is our (the reader’s) ‘guide’ through the story, because the protagonist is the character leading the reader along as they uncover what the villain was/is ultimately up to. As such, I like to define twists as follows: Twists are the reveal of the villain’s truth. This truth feels “twisty,” because the reveal of the truth is unexpected to the protagonist.

— Samantha Skal, in a blog post, Designing Thriller and Mystery Twists That Work

What is your villain’s truth? What is she really after? What will she do to get it? How will she respond to anyone in her way?

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