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I'm writing a story where the antagonist is motivated by lust, and has successfully engaged in predatory behavior, the antagonist is attempting to become a powerful mage in order to solidify his paradise and use magic to make his experiences more vivid. The protagonists have trusted the antagonist the entire time and their friend even committed suicide as a result of his actions.

I'd like to solidify his emotional impact on the characters in a natural way and therefor do not want him to jump into an unprovoked monologue, but I can't seem to think of a natural way of doing this.

I have considered both the scenario where the main characters learn everything at once when they discover who the antagonist is, and I have also considered (and think it would be better) for the protagonists to slowly realize all the things the antagonist has done before they actually find out who he is. unfortunately I can't think of a reasonable mechanism by which this should happen owing to the inexperience of the main characters.

Rather than a monologue or something that feels contrived, what things can I consider to introduce my antagonist's misdeeds to my main characters?

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Your question is a bit broad and, as a consequence, difficult to answer completely in this forum. But, still, it is interesting. Let me narrow it down to a question that I may be able to answer.

One fact in your question stood out to me. You have multiple protagonists. Multiple protagonists means that there are multiple points of view, at least in the sense that it is likely that each of the protagonists has a different experience of what has happened, both in the events of the story and the history embedded in the backstory. Those differences are a rich source of conflict between those points of view. And conflict is a rich source of goodness for story tellers.

Faced with your problem, I would create a series of scenes in which each of protagonists relates events from their prospective. Some of the key aspects would more-or-less match up and other aspects not so much. The idea is to let the reader see some breadcrumbs (so they sense what is going on) but to smother the relevant breadcrumbs with charming but non-essential facts. At some point a crisis occurs that forces the protagonists to compare notes, perhaps led by one of the protagonists that is trained in analytic thinking (lawyer, engineer, detective, etc.). The detailed analysis highlights inconsistencies that turn into action items to be completed by the protagonists to get to the truth.

Depending upon how much material you want to produce, you could have multiple cycles of this, each building up to the reveal of the monstrous truth. The antagonist might not attend these sessions in the early cycles but must appear in the later ones. More conflict. More story telling goodness.

Now this has the effect of making this into a mystery, but I think that is implied by your question. I would argue that adding an overlay of mystery in which the reader is given (what turn out to be) clues that are later resolved by the events of the story adds excitement to most stories. This low-and-slow approach is an excellent way IMO to distribute an info dump throughout the story to the extent that the reader never realizes that dumping took place.

Thus, you have my smallish contribution to the conversation.

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  • This is probably as perfect an answer as could've been given. And by accident my magic system is perfect fur accomodating it, thank you. I especially like how you led in to more of a mystery aspect, as I had scarce considered it before. – DeaAlexandris Mar 8 at 18:10

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