Revenge/ Superhero story

by Trey

Question: My main character wants to get revenge on a certain individual, who has reached the apex of his arc and essentially taken control of every opposition he has faced previously (before the main character's story), for killing the family he worked for and treasured. The villain is someone who is connected to the main character's new boss as her boyfriend. I was wondering when it would be a good time for him to reveal himself as the villain. I was thinking of having the main character suspect him early on be on his tail until he is "killed" seemingly out of nowhere by his "proxy" about midway through the story. After this the main character gets confused as there is still chaos rampant and the suspected villain is dead and the proxy obviously isn't the person who killed the family he served. Regardless he goes after the proxy until the original villain reveals himself again. Is this a good idea or is it too convoluted? If this is too convoluted what could I do to streamline this idea.

Answer: In a thriller (assuming this is your genre), it is quite common for the real threat (in this case, the real villain) to only be exposed and dealt with at the climax of the story.

In effect, you create a "false close" in which the proxy is dealt with, the reader gets a momentary bit of relief, and then the final threat (real villain) reveals himself or is exposed by the hero, just as you outline above.

Of course, it helps if you begin the story with a shocking event that contains some tiny hint regarding who the real villain is. The proxy is then a red herring who keeps the heroes occupied for most of the story.

A few additional hints or bits of contradictory evidence scattered throughout the story can help too, so that when the real villain is revealed, the reader can have an "Oh, why didn't I see this coming" moment.

The other technique you should consider is having the actions of the real villain, though concealed for most of the story, be the driving force. So for most of the story, we see the heroes reacting to things that happen, but we don't understand why they happen until the end.

Best of luck.

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