TAP023, How to Write the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain Scene in a Novel

by Amelia D. Hay | The Authorpreneur Podcast - Writing, Book Marketing, and Self Publishing Advice for Writers

Hello, Writers!

 

So, you’ve reached the climactic sequence, and you’re wondering how to make these final scenes the most dramatic part of your novel; the answer is simple, by including a hero at the mercy of the villain scene. At this point, you’ve probably got a few questions floating around your mind. What is the hero at the mercy of the villain scene? Where does this scene sit within the climactic sequence? And, is this scene appropriate for my story?

 

If you’ve found yourself asking those questions or even wondering how to write the hero at the mercy of the villain scene, then this episode is for you. Along with answering those three questions, I will share three tips on how to write this plot point. You can also expect a few examples from film and novels to help illustrate my points and to help you write your own Hero at the Mercy of the Villain scene. So, it goes without saying, spoiler alert.

 

But, before we dive into how to write the hero at the mercy of the villain scene, I want to quickly discuss what you can expect from the remainder of season one of this podcast.

 

About The Series

Before I dive into the writing tips, this is the twelfth instalment in my series on Three-Act-Structure. If you’ve just joined me on this episode then, I will link the previous eleven episodes below.

 

The Transition Between Season One and Two

After this episode, there are only two episodes left in series one, which is focused on story structure. The episodes will be on how to write the return to the real world scene in a novel, and how to structure a story using the hero’s journey; so keep an eye out for these in your favourite podcasting app.

 

Between season one and two, I will transition back to weekly Behind the Scene Podcast Diary episodes, where I will talk about my experiences with revision and the next steps in the publishing journey for my thriller novels, Missing and Silence. I’m also considering devoting an episode of the BTS Podcast Diary to answering a few frequently asked questions on writing and story structure. If you have a question that you’d love me to answer on this special show, then submit your question via the form by clicking here.

 

What is the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain Scene?

Depending upon where you get your writing advice the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain plot point is often referred to as The Final Battle or The Final Confrontation. The reason, I’m pointing this out to you is I will use these references interchangeably throughout this episode, instead of saying the same phrase over and over again. I know story structure can be quite confusing at times, but understand that all three of these plot moments refer to the same thing.

 

Where to Include this Plot Point?

The Hero at the Mercy of the Villain scene can come earlier; for instance, just before the Second Plot Point, however, it usually occurs between the eighty-eight to ninety-eight percent mark of the story. It’s the final straw, the most dramatic part of your book. This moment forces the hero to make a realisation, change, or grow. And it’s the moment within the climactic sequence where the hero has a victory, and more often than not sacrifices are made to obtain this victory. Even though the title does imply this, the plot point doesn’t have to be a literal battle, it can be metaphorical, like in the Great Gatsby, where the villain isn’t Tom but the Gatsby obsession American Dream. The moment doesn’t have to be one scene it can be a few chapters; the length should depend upon your story and what it needs to reach a satisfying conclusion.

 

But, Story Comes First
In light of that last point, it’s essential I remind you that story structure is to be used as a guide. I don’t want you to look at this series as a strict set of rules. Writing an entertaining and compelling story should come first over having a plot point in the right place. As a writer, it’s crucial to understand story structure, so that you can make better decisions when it comes to the plot of your novel.

 

Is this Plot Point Just for Thriller Novels?

The hero at the mercy of the Villain plot point is an excellent addition to any story that falls under the banner of action; for instance, Action-adventure, Thriller, and Horror. Sometimes you can find The Final Confrontation scene in the fantasy genre. The most famous example of a fantasy series with this plot point is the Harry Potter books, more often than not Harry ends up confronting the villain alone at the end of the novels.

 

However, the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain plot point isn’t suited for all genres. Generally, this event is not present within novels in the mystery or crime genres because there is a moment where the protagonist exposures the real criminal. That scene is vital to those genres because it’s what the reader wants to see, it’s why they picked up the book.

 

Tip #1 – The Hero Becomes the Victim

So, how does the hero become the victim?

 

The protagonist experiences an all is lost moment, leading up to the Hero at the Mercy of the villain scenes. It’s in that moment where the hero realises that he has nothing else to lose. This gives him the courage to face the antagonist even though the odds are stacked against the hero from the start of the climactic sequence. As a result, the hero is captured and comes face to face with the villain.

 

Just a side note, you don’t have to do things this way; this is an example of how you would take the hero from the start of the climactic sequence where he has an all is lost moment to confront the villain. In this confrontation, the villain is causing the hero pain. This is crucial; the villain needs to be the source of the hero’s pain, not an outside influence.

 

Tip #2 – Include The Villain’s Speech

It’s the villain speech that is the most infamous part of the hero at the mercy of the villain plot point. These speeches can be found across film and books, from Marvel to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In the film, The Avengers we see a famous scene where Loki has a long, overconfident, and almost over-dramatic monologue that leads to his demise. I know this particular scene isn’t technically in the right place because the midpoint of The Avengers film goes on for quite a long time. You couldn’t do that in a book, but you can do this in film because it’s a different medium and it’s easier to hold the audience’s attention in the film than in a novel. Loki’s monologue is an epic long power trip, and the mistake that leads to his demise is he underestimates the people and only sees them as weak.

 

An Example from LOTR

Whereas in the third book in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Return of the King, we see the Witch-King monologuing in a battlefield in a similar over-confident way, giving Eowyn time to kill him. It’s a little more complicated than that, but you get my point. I don’t want to get into a battle with Tolkien fans over who killed the Witch-King because there are different thoughts behind this that are quite interesting and both have valid points. The reason I chose to share this as an example is I want to show you other Hero at the Mercy of the Villain scenes to help you get a better grasp of how this plot point works.

 

More than Just Gloating

The antagonist needs to be over-confident to the point where the reader believes the villain is going to win. But, the villain needs to do more than gloat. Forget the evil stereotypical bond-villain style of speech; instead, the antagonist’s point needs to make sense. The Villains speech masterfully articulates a valid point of view; in essence, it’s logical, because no-one does anything in a vacuum and is merely pure evil. Think of it as a ’best of intentions with a questionable methodology’ situation. The reader needs to see the villains point of view. While sympathetic, the reader needs to side with the protagonist. Vulture perfectly illustrates this point in Spiderman Homecoming, where he explains the reasoning behind his actions to Peter Parker in the climactic sequence of the film. This moment leads Peter to reconsider joining the Avengers and to stick around and protect the little guy.

 

Tip #3 – Chose a Satisfying Ending

I guess you’re wondering, how to end the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain scene?

 

There are two types of endings; the hero overcomes through persistence and a false death of the hero. I devoted an entire show to story endings in season one, click here to listen to that episode. Just in case you’re a little curious and want more information.

 

But, back to the two possible endings for the Hero at the Mercy of the Villain plot point. With resolve and tenacity, the hero escapes and overpowers the villain. In the process of overcoming the life and death stakes, sometimes the villain dies, even if it is by accident. The scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy accidentally splashes water on the Wicked Witch in her attempts to put out the fire on the scarecrow is a perfect example. Dorothy has a moment where she realises “oh, you’re dissolvable,” then what was once done by accident is done on purpose.

 

The final battle scene can also include a “death of the hero” scene, where the hero sacrifices themselves and appears to die, but then is brought back to life. In between the moment where the hero dies and is brought back to life the villain has a mini moment of victory, just like in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Voldemort returns to the ruins of Hogwarts, with Hagrid following closely behind carrying a seemingly dead Harry Potter, and he prematurely announcing his victory. This sight pushed Neville to speak up and pull the sword of Gryffindor out of the sorting hat, moments before Harry comes back to life. It’s almost like a false ending.

 

Concluding Thoughts

In order to write a compelling Hero at the Mercy of the Villain scene, you need to include a moment where the hero becomes the victim, the villains speech, and choose a satisfying ending. Now, I have an important question for you. Are you struggling to write the hero at the mercy of the villain scene? I want to hear from you.  Share your experience or ask a question in the comments section below or tweet me at WriterADHay.

 

Where Are You Listening?

I’ve decided that I want to start building a community around the podcast through Twitter because at the moment it feels like I’m talking into a void. So, I’m a little curious; where are you listening to The Authorpreneur Podcast, feel free to snap a quick photo and tweet me at WriterADHay, and I’ll share it on next weeks episode.

 

Thank you for listening, reading, commenting and sharing with such enthusiasm.

 

Your coach,

 

Amelia xx

 

 

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Amelia Hay

I'm Amelia. I write Mystery and Thriller Novels under the pen name A. D. Hay. And, I'm the author of Missing, the first book in the James Lalonde series. On this blog, I help new writers to finish their first draft, prepare their manuscripts for professional editing, and when they get stuck in the first draft phase or are confused about the revision process. Right now, I'm editing and preparing my soon to be published mystery novels, Duplicity, 24 Hours, and Immunity for publication.
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