Because villains do win. Now and again. And a crucial part of writing is to know when it’s time for the villain to win – if only for the sake of the plot, character development, etc. – and how to write that in a way that leaves the reader hopeful for tomorrow.
I’ve read books in which the villain wins and the reader is not left with hope for what’s next. Maybe I’m just not experienced enough in writing to know that that can be a good thing – can it? – but I know that, when I read and the villain wins, I want to be left with a sense of hope that the protagonist and the other characters we’ve come to love are down but not out.
Of course, there are brief instances where you have to leave things very open-ended and not wrapped up, whether at the end of the book or the end of a chapter, and by all means, do it. But if the victory of the villain is a longer lasting occurrence with more serious repercussions, remember, my dear writer, we readers want to grasp on to hope.
TRUE OR FALSE – TO CONVEY HOPE TO THE READER, LEAVE A POSSIBLE ESCAPE ROUTE OPEN TO THE CHARACTERS.
If you haven’t guessed already, that’s generally false, because those “escape routes” are generally false the first time. Take a little time in this case to develop a wild and believable – if wild – escape route.
TRUE OR FALSE – THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE A QUICK ESCAPE FROM THE VILLAIN’S VICTORY.
Nope. Never. Period. False.
A quick escape is usually not going to engage the reader’s attention or sympathies. Build upon the villain’s victory, create a climax, a solid climax. Be patient. Just remember hope.
TRUE OR FALSE – YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CONVEY HOPE IN THE VILLAIN’S VICTORY.
Depends on the victory, depends on the villain, depends on the plot, depends on the MC, depends on the MC’s character development . . . Need I go on? You’ll know. Never make a drawn-out victory totally hopeless. Never. But a brief victory? A victory that looks like a victory but really isn’t a victory? There’s room for careful consideration there.
TRUE OR FALSE – THE STORY’S ENDING SHOULD INCLUDE A VILLAIN’S VICTORY IF THE BOOK IS THE FIRST IN A SERIES.
That could be true or false, depending again on the story and where you intend to go in the next book. I’ve found, however, in reading, as you may have as well, that an ending which includes a villain’s victory over the main character or the main character’s mission does make for a pretty good incentive to read book two. (Read Nadine Brandes’ Out of Time Series).
I hope this has made some sense. Essentially, hope is an important tool when you’re crafting a piece of the story in which the villain gets his/her way. But there is a balance to be maintained, and you may want to be wary of just how far you tip the see-saw one way or the other. Remember, a victory may just look like a victory to your main characters and your readers. Maybe it isn’t quite as big of an enemy victory as they feared. (Read Richard Paul Evan’s Michael Vey Series).
Opinions, people? Let’s hear them! Let me know how you have accomplished this in your writing. Have you books that tipped the see-saw balance upside down or books that mastered it? Let’s chat!