Plot Misdirection: Using False Protagonists in Storytelling – The Urban Writers

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Mastering Misdirection: The Art of the False Protagonist in Storytelling

You're looking for a fresh new idea that could truly captivate your audience, but you don't know where to start. Sometimes tricking your readers is one of the best ways for you to engage with them, as most readers want a book where they can't predict what's going to happen next.

Using a false protagonist in your book can be the game-changer you need to surprise your readers, making them want more! Through this article, you will master the art of misdirecting your readers with your next page-turner.

Understanding Some Basics of the Protagonist in Storytelling

Before we uncover how you can use false protagonists in storytelling, let's uncover some of the basics of storytelling that make these types of character arcs so successful in award-winning novels. Whether you're writing a romance novel or a spine-chilling horror, a protagonist plays a crucial role in your story.

What is a Protagonist?

There are four different types of protagonists that you could include in your story; these are what they are and how they can add value to your story:

  • Hero/Heroine. The hero of the story is a character who is loveable with noble characteristics that the readers admire and respect. This is the character most readers will root for.
  • Antihero. This protagonist is still the main character who is also often rooted for, but they do not possess the ideal or common characteristics of your stereotypical hero protagonist.
  • Supporting protagonist. The supporting protagonist isn't the main character, but they play a crucial role in the delivery of the protagonist's story.
  • False protagonist. Lastly, let's look at the most intriguing protagonist out there. To know what a false protagonist is, you need to understand the role of an antagonist. The antagonist is the opposing character, who often has a more hostile approach. Your false protagonist is often revealed to be a hidden villain or antagonist.

Out of these four protagonists, which one do you think is most suitable for your story?

Why Should You Use a False Protagonist?

If you're still wondering whether using a false protagonist is something you should do for your story, knowing the benefits of adding this character arc to your story may be what you need. How does a false protagonist add to your plot? A false protagonist can make your story more...

  • Jarring. With various forms of literature, storylines, and plots out there, it can be challenging to produce a story that genuinely shocks your audience. Using a false protagonist is one way to truly surprise your readers, as you create a sense of conflict that is enticing for readers.
  • Unpredictable. Being able to take your readers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions that they can't predict can be an entertaining journey for both you and your readers. Convincing your readers through a deceptive narrative and then blindsiding them can leave them with crazy whiplash!
  • Memorable. Most books have the stereotypical protagonist who is loved by the readers. Though having a hero/heroine as the main character can form a more emotional connection with your readers, shaking things up with a hidden villain can be a lot more memorable for the reader. Doing this can ensure that your book stands out as a must-read that keeps your readers on their toes.

False protagonists should be a more common feature in books, as they showcase three-dimensional characters who are more realistic than your stereotypical protagonist. Most humans are not innately good or bad, which can make a false protagonist more relatable for most readers.

How to Create a False Protagonist

The art of mastering the false protagonist is a lot more challenging than one may think, as you need to achieve it in a way that is effective and convincing while avoiding all of the cliches. Following the steps and tricks of creating your false protagonist can provide you with the best results!

Make Your Protagonist Believable and Loveable

A false protagonist is only successful when your readers believe and love your protagonist in the beginning of your story. You need to build up that relationship between the reader and the character, so they can empathize with their side of the story.

Your job as the author is to convince the reader that the protagonist is the character they should be supporting, so when you reveal the plot twist, they are completely stunned by their favorite character actually being the hidden villain.

If your readers don't believe the protagonist is the hero/heroine, they will not be surprised when the plot twist is revealed. Even worse, if your readers dislike your protagonist, they're probably going to wish for their demise for the entirety of the book (if they even continue to keep reading further).

Keep Your Narrative Misdirection Consistent

A crucial element of a successful false protagonist is keeping a consistent storyline that adds up. When an avid reader is enjoying your book, they are most likely predicting what's going to happen next. If you want to successfully shock your reader, you need to ensure that there are no cracks in your story.

You need to ensure that your storyline is consistent and that all of the information throughout the book is in line with your big reveal. It may be challenging to keep these consistencies as you write, which is why the editing process is so crucial, as you identify any of the flaws in your story that could ruin the surprise for your readers.

Make the Reveal Memorable

The buildup of your character development needs to lead to a memorable moment where you reveal the shocking news to your reader. The loved and adored protagonist is not as reliable, innocent, and perfect as they may have seemed. You want the reveal to be jaw-dropping, which can be achieved through these tips:

  • Use literary devices. Using subtle literary devices throughout your story can be a great way to keep readers on their toes until they get to the big reveal that is almost obvious once they read it. Don't be shy to include beautiful metaphors, personification, and symbolism that make your book literary gold!
  • Make use of character dynamics. Another great way to do your reveal is by using the character dynamics you've developed through your story. Maybe your protagonist had a bad relationship with the misdirected "villain" of the story. The reveal can show the juxtaposition of both characters and how they reverse roles in character development.
  • Create an unexpected plot twist. The reveal can be however you want it to be as the author. Your main objective should be to create an unexpected plot twist that no one will expect. To do this, you need to do your research so you can discover what cliches to avoid to make this plot twist as memorable as possible.
  • Realize that less is more. When you have an idea of this big, grand reveal, you may want to include a lot of dialogue, a variety of twists and turns, and a large portion of writing. Sometimes less is more when it comes to creating that wow factor. You may find that getting your readers to read between the lines allows for a more powerful reveal.

With these tips, your reveal will be a great hit among your readers. It can take a lot of brainstorming to come up with the perfect twist and reveal, so it's valuable to find some ways to stay productive during your brainstorming period!

Hiring a Ghostwriter

It can be challenging to create a false protagonist who successfully tricks your readers without utilizing any of the cliches. If this is something you're struggling with, but you still want to make use of this shocking story feature, then hiring a professional ghostwriter can be a great way to turn your book into the next bestseller.

At The Urban Writers, you can find a variety of professional writers committed to turning your imaginative ideas into a successful book. If the idea of a false protagonist intimidates you, a professional writer may be just what you need to get out of your comfort zone!

Storytelling Techniques

Once you've learned how to create a false protagonist who will keep readers at the edge of their seats, it's crucial to know some storytelling tips that will allow you to create a captivating story that leaves your readers hooked throughout! The following tips can help you to narrate a well-thought-out and cohesive story:

  • Know your audience. When you're writing a book for a specific audience or a book series, you need to ensure that your target audience is your main objective throughout your writing process. What character traits will your readers relate to and appreciate?
  • Make a connection with your audience. As you consider the desires and interests of your readers, decide how you'll make a connection with them. The best books are those that truly capture the heartstrings or emotions of your readers. If you want to make the shocking false protagonist reveal, you need to make them connect with the protagonist you've created.
  • Create unique plot twists. Coming up with fresh plot twists can be a lot easier said than done, especially when you find yourself faced with writer's block. Using AI services like Dibbly and KIP can help you brainstorm fresh ideas that provide you with plot twists like never seen before!
  • Get help writing content. Writing a book is no easy job, especially when you want to pull off a successful false protagonist. You may have a vague story in mind that you love the idea of, but you don't know how to flesh it out into a great book. Hiring a ghostwriter can help you to bring this vision to life.

It's most important to enjoy the process of writing your story, as this will help you to create an interesting, well-crafted masterpiece! Let your creative juices flow as you try out different writing styles, techniques, and tips that work for you.

In Summary

It's time to take your story to the next level by using a false protagonist who leaves all of your readers at the edge of their seats. Remember to make your false protagonists believable, well thought out, and unique. Get creative and have fun with the writing process, and you'll be pleasantly surprised to see how well-crafted your false protagonist becomes.

If you want to make your idea of a false protagonist come to life but have no idea where to start, check out our services and hire a ghostwriter who can create a plot twist that truly impresses your readers!


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