by Anastasia

Question: This site is exactly what I needed to actually pull out those "someday" ideas off the shelf, but I can't seem to find anything on character betrayals. It is the main thing holding me back from completing the plot and moving onto the first draft.

My main character has a brother who is the true antagonist of the plot, but plays the "good guy" role for a good portion of the story, playing along with the good-guy group until about the third act.

The best example that I can think of at this moment in time is Tohru Adachi from the game Persona 4.

How would I build up towards the brother's betrayal (reveal, perhaps?) without it seeming obvious it was going to happen, or choppy to the point that it happens out of nowhere and makes no sense? And how do I surprise the reader with this?


Answer: Often it's a case where a series of events is unfolding (such as the brother's motivation, what's going on in his head, or the actions the brother is taking), but the writer deliberately conceals all this from the reader. Maybe the reader only sees the results of the brother's actions, so they have a sense that something is going on, but they don't know why or who is behind it.

Much like a mystery, however, the story only really makes sense once the hidden events have been revealed (usually in the fourth act).

You will need to have clues planted throughout the story. Once the reader reaches the end, they should be able to look back and realize that the evidence was there all along, if only they had paid closer attention. The revelation of the hidden events should make sense of what did not make sense before.

And, of course, you will throw up red herrings or alternative explanations to stop the reader from guessing the truth too soon.

If you are a plotter by nature, you might work out the hidden series of events at the same time you write your outline, noting what will not be revealed until later.

If you are more of a pantser, you may not do such detailed planning. However, when you finish a draft, you will go back and rewrite the earlier chapters to plant your clues, now that you know what's coming.

Either way, you are correct in thinking that the betrayal cannot come out of nowhere. The clues must be there all along. And the brother needs a plausible reason for his betrayal. The reader needs to see in hindsight that the villain's arc unfolds in a way that makes sense.

Best of luck.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Character Invite.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero