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Monday, October 10, 2011

Writing a Killer Novel

At the end of the day all novels boil down to sex and murder. Fantasy or science-fiction, thrillers or romance when you get down to the bare bones the plot is going to revolve around emotions or corpses. Sure, your novel has other stuff. There's probably angst, and doubt, and elation, and maybe dancing or drunken phone calls... but at the end the plot can't wrap until you tell the reader Whodunit.

That's where I went wrong with my ending this draft. I've spent days doing everything but write because I knew something was off. And then I realized... One little snippet of conversation. A few hundred words chopped, and now my Reveal Moment had vanished into thin air. Whoops! Glad I caught that before my beta-readers did.

Do you know how hard it is to tie up a plot when you never explain *why* all of this happened or who was behind it? Of course I hope that readers will have an Aha! moment at the end when they see who the Big Bad is and remember all the (hopefully) subtle hints through out. Still, nothing is going to replace the outright accusation.

So how does a cunning author reveal who the Villain truly is? There are some classic techniques...

The Monolog - always a favorite of villains seconds before the hero's daring escape

The Accusation - used by clever detectives like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Pirot

The Obvious - favored by the fantasy crowd where no Evil Overlord is ever just misunderstood

The Aside - when a wise old muppet wanders up and explains why the Big Bad is bad

The Confession - a moment of tearful regret that takes place seconds before the villain dies

The Mob - whoever they hang must have been the bad guy (popular during witch hunts)

I'm leaning heavily to using a Monolog to reveal Big Bad's motivations. Too cliche? Let me write it and we'll both know!


  1. I don't think a monologue is too cliche if you can pull it off well. It's just one of those things that can quickly turn contrived and cheesy if you're not careful. I'm sure you can do it. =)

    - Nick

  2. The character is foaming-at-the-mouth insane by the end so I could see the monolog working. The manuscript is open and bleeding on the surgery table while I try to wrap up the plot. :o)