So how often have you seen this scene in bad movies: the villain has captured the hero, and (before dismembering him with a laser or chucking him into the piranha tank) proudly boasts of his accomplishments and plans. And then of course the hero escapes, and uses his knowledge of the enemy to thwart him.
What kind of awful hack would write a scene like this today?
Well . . . I would. In fact I've written this kind of scene twice, in Voice of the Whirlwind and in Aristoi.
I would like to be able to say that the difference between this scene as depicted in bad movies and the scene as I write is that I'm the one who's writing it. Yes, damn it, I'm that good!
Here's the dilemma. At some point somebody's gotta tell the reader what's been going on and who's been doing it and why. The ideal person to make this speech is the antagonist. But who's he going to talk to? His own henchmen already know the score.
Here's the trick.
You've got to give the antagonist a reason for making the speech other than the fact that the plot needs him to. The weakest reason I've come up with was in Voice of the Whirlwind, where the villain had just been shot and was high on painkillers, blabbing away. In Aristoi, the baddie was trying to convert Gabriel to his cause.
I can't tell you why, in my current work, why the current antagonist is so thoroughly briefing the protagonist, except that it's a damned good reason. To say anything more would be to give away too much of the action.
But here's another thing I did. I put his speech in the form of a soliloquy.
I had started it as a dialogue. But one of the parties in the dialogue didn't have that much to say except "Uh-huh" and "Go on" and "Tell me more," and I began to fall victim to the "bobblehead syndrome," where the characters are constantly nodding and narrowing their eyes and opening their eyes wide and and shuffling their feet and playing with cigarettes and otherwise reacting to what the other person is saying, and it was getting repetetive.
So I thought: Look, only one person has a story to tell here. So let him tell it.
Stand on your mark.
Face the camera.
Say your lines.
If the lines are good enough, they'll carry the thing.
If the lines aren't good enough, I'm sure someone will tell me.