I am standing before a problem.

For my story I largely developed the background and the world for two main characters: the hero of my stories and a villain. I started with the story of my hero, his life and his actions as a first book. But the villain was so persistent that through months of work he can have his own story and maybe his own book and I am seriously considering it.

The book about my hero will be the storytelling type where the end of the villain will be written.

The book about the villain will be in a diary form.

The problem here is that when you first read the book about the hero, you will know what happened with the villain.

Is it a correct way here to merge those stories together and tell both of them in one book?

  • 2
    This happens and can be insanely popular if you do it right. The musical Wicked. Look at what DC and Marvel do with their villains - somethimes they get graphic novels or series' of their own... Episodes 1-3 of Star Wars (I'm not a fan, but we can't have this discussion without bringing them up)
    – Tim
    Dec 22, 2015 at 14:19
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    How about the animated film Megamind? The protagonist starts as a villain battling his antagonist, Metroman, a hero. We get both their life stories to the present. When Metroman is removed, Megamind creates a new hero antagonist to fight. Then [SPOILERS!] the new hero goes bad, and Megamind has to become good to fight him. Dec 22, 2015 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


I think that the greatest factor you have to consider is the length of your story.

Would combining the stories make your book into a 150,000 word epic? Or if they were separate would there not be enough substance that you would have to invent a lot of filler just to get the word count up? There is precedent for having the stories separate or combined, so either is possible.

Having a villain origin story that is chronologically before the hero's story, but told afterwards, has been done many times (see Star Wars or Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel!). This story tends to allow the reader insight into a tragic character, who tries to be a hero but is a victim of circumstance that survives through experiences that causes their ideologies to change, causing them to become villainous.

I've even read stories told from a villain's perspective after they were the villain, which tend to be redemption stories about how the villain of a previous tale attempts to right the wrongs they have committed.

Telling both stories in unison, you will likely have to focus on how the two characters are two sides of the same coin. They may both be trying to save the world, but have different ideas of how to do it. It may be that the two main characters are siblings/ friends who have a similar background, but veer onto different paths.

Whichever story you tell, in order to tell it from the villain's perspective, you need to make that character relatable. The reader must identify with this character on some level in order to keep them interested in pursuing their story.

They may be a The End Justifies The Means villain, or a Disillusioned/ Fallen Hero. They may even just be the absolute worst type of person who has a pet kitten that they cherish and adore. In order to get the reader to justify reading about the inner workings of the antagonist, they need to have some reason to invest their emotions into reading about the character.

You can still make the roles of Hero and Villain obvious and distinct to the reader, but there must be at least some shades of grey within the roles of good and evil. There is no use for a reader to commit to reading about a villain who is evil just for the sake of being evil.

Every hero's tale starts with a set of circumstances that causes them to pursue their journey, the villain must have one also.

  • Thanks for your answer. I see a problem here now, because main hero is supposed to uncover bits of a villains work, as a detective, throught his story. So from a part where he will be uncovering his story, story of a villain might be uninteresting to tell. But in a fact you are true. Some perspecives you mentioned are worth to think about. Thank you.
    – Ernedar
    Dec 22, 2015 at 11:07
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    Well that could possibly work in a few ways. For the stories together, the hero could discover things about the villain whilst the villain also does research on the hero, so the reader gradually finds out about the two main characters at the same rate, the good and bad things. Or the hero could discover the stories of horrible things the villain has done in book 1, whilst book 2 explains that the villain had no other choice, or the official story the hero reads vilifies the other character, but the reader later discovers the blame was actually mostly on someone else. Dec 22, 2015 at 11:22

You could, but having separate stories is a good idea as well. Knowing the outcome can actually make the story more interesting; think of Anakin Skywalker, who everyone knew from the beginning was going to become Darth Vader. The interesting part here is how he became evil, rather than the discovery of it.

You could also, as you mentioned, fuse the two stories into one; the risk here is to have two distinct story lines that only fuse together at the very end (depending on how early on the Hero and Villain interact with each other). But it is also an interesting way to keep the reader confused as to which character is the real Hero, and which one is the Villain.

Whichever idea you feel most comfortable with, I suppose :)

  • Consider the marketability of your work. Your first book has to publish in order to make any subsequent work relevant. If a series has a bestseller, you can write about any character you want and people will buy it. Otherwise it's a moot point. Put forth your best effort first!
    – Stu W
    Dec 27, 2015 at 17:59

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