One of the most fun and entertaining things to do as a story lover and writer is to hide the villain right in front of your audience and keep them guessing until the end.
Throw in a twist here and a twist there and voila, you surprise everyone that they knew who the villain was all along and they met them in chapter 2 but didn’t have a clue until the very end.
In some stories, the villain is bold and insidious and it’s obvious the entire time who they are, but some stories the villainous creature is scheming and conniving and even in their own mind is the good guy.
Whether your villain is insane and doesn’t recognize they’re evil deeds as evil or they are doing their best to fit into society and hide their dark secrets, it can be a lot of fun for readers to be surprised as to who the real villain is.
So here are some fun and creative ways that you can entertain your readers by hiding your villain right before their eyes:
1. Make your villain enjoyable.
When readers are poring over your words they expect to find the villain as some cruel ugly hag, but if you make her nice and kind and enjoyable, they might just skip right passed this one on the possible guilty subjects list at first, expecting you to reveal them later, being none the wiser to having just met them.
Give your villain a scene or two where they are enjoyable and likable and perhaps even charming and potentially heroic and you’ll find folks are pleasantly surprised later on to learn that that charming character is actually an evil character in disguise.
Make your evil person a random shop keeper that helps the protagonist find an item in the store in the first couple of chapters and even gives them a discount showing the villain to be charitable to throw them off the scent even more.
2. Make your villain an idiot.
A good way to hide your bad guy from your audience at first is to make them believe he is a fool or a bumbling idiot.
By making him a fool at first you make them look like a side character in the story that adds extra dynamics and enjoyment, but nobody would ever expect the fool to be the cunning evil undertaker in disguise.
3. Make your villain appear weaker physically.
Give them some sort of physical handicap to make them “appear” to be physically “weaker,” but in truth they are NOT weaker at all. It is only a guise. Give them a limp or hobble. Make them a character with paraplegia or quadraplegia. Make your villain a character with muteness, deafness, or blindness so that your heroine and reader are none the wiser to their evil schemes and less likely to put them on their mental suspect list.
It doesn’t even have to be an actual ailment to your villain. The antagonist could be feigning the injury or birthed medical condition altogether. Both work equally well for making a dynamic character with complicated ideas and emotions.
Readers expect the evil antagonist to be strong and of equal strength physically to the protagonist. By making the villain appear “weaker” or “vulnerable,” your readers could look right over them and might not suspect a thing.
Think Mr. Glass in Unbreakable and Glass. People all around him underestimate him, but that is the most dangerous thing to do. The main antagonist in Glass assumed she could control and outsmart Mr. Glass and that was her fatal mistake.
Because of her foolish assumption, she fell right into his plans perfectly and handed him everything he needed to show the world that the myth of super humans was real. She assumed she was smarter than him and could control him and that was her downfall.
(Side note: make sure to have the utmost care and respect with how you research disabilities and write characters with disabilities, whether they are humans or fantasy creatures that you are writing. We all have friends and loved ones we know with disabilities, so be kind and respectful. Disabilities can be written about in fiction in a responsible and respectful way 🙂 .)
4. Make them attractive.
One of the easiest ways to throw your readers off the scent of the villain is to make them attractive. Make them kind, polite, and charming.
Make them the life of the party. The person that could spit in your face and that you would still want to be their friend and have their attention.
That character could never be the villain, could they?
5. Make the villain assist the protagonist.
Have the protagonist meet them on a train ride and have the villain help them find their cart and sit with them and have a very needed helpful conversation.
You could go as bold as to have the villain be there “sidekick” up until the time of turning against them, or you could have the villain help them in a moment and turn the reader’s mind to think that the villain is just a kind helpful person in the story.
11 Tips How to Write Villains that Manipulate Their Prey:
- Write villains that are of a genius-level intelligence
- Write villains that like to do their work in the dark
- Write villains that love to run experiments on their targets
- Write villains whose entire motive is to just gain more knowledge
- Write villains that never want to stop
- Write villains that take advantage of the weak and helpless
- Write villains that enjoy using their prey’s own thoughts and feelings about life against them
- Write villains that know how to carry out plans against their prey that leaves the villain looking innocent
- Write villains that were first victims themselves
- Write villains that have strange beliefs
- Write villains that have accomplished the ultimate achievement of convincing all the heroes that they are actually a hero as well until their evil plan is complete