When Using Criminal POV
the crime and getting into the head of a deviant criminal, evil mastermind, or
even a man caught in circumstances can be a powerful tool. Making the
reader sympathize with the villain of a story can have an impact on the reader
that will make them both uneasy and excited. A serial killer story can
take on a number of moral and ethical questions when the thoughts and reasoning
of the villain are displayed.
difficulty in using this technique is maintaining suspense. There are
three main ways to create and maintain suspense while using the POV of the
character whose actions are creating the mystery.
first, and least advised, is to use the POV but hide the facts. Statements
such as "Jack watched the girl hop into her car and he knew what his next
move would be" do preserve the mystery, but they are also vague. Many
readers will tire of sections that they know will only end in vague statements
meant to force mystery. This can alienate your audience.
option is to construct your story so that the antagonist is forced to change his
or her plans. If your hero is chasing your villain, both characters will
be forced to react to events. Knowing what the villain does in no way
predicts or spoils what you have planned for the main character, nor does it
make the suspense seem artificial. This works well only if the antagonist
has a plan that changes. If the villain's role is that of the mastermind
behind a plot that will begin in two weeks, and the heroine must discover the
plan, then showing the villain finalizing the plot can spoil much of the
this need not be the case. The third option is to use dramatic irony as a
tool. Allowing the reader to know more than the hero can cause an
emotional pull within the reader as the character continues down a path that the
reader knows is fraught with danger. Though this technique may seem
simple, it is the most difficult. A greater concern for the main character
is needed for this method. Since the mystery is gone, the reader must be
so concerned with the protagonist's well-being that the threat of impending
danger affects the reader. This can be powerful if used correctly.
if none of these methods seems to be working for you, there are ways to show the
villain without getting inside his head. Using the POV of victims or
allies who are kept in the dark can show some of the villain's character but
none of his thoughts. Though this will give the reader a weaker connection
to the villain and will cause less conflict within the reader about both liking
and hating the character, it will allow you to display the character you have
created through the eyes of others while making it easier to withhold the facts
that threaten to wreck your mystery.