Every writer needs to decide how to reveal the antagonists plans, intentions, and motivation. How much should be revealed? When?
In some cases, the reader gets to see everything. We can find out what the antagonist wants and what they plan to do. We know more than the protagonist.
In other cases, we know as much as the protagonist, and everything is revealed as they learn about it. There’s much more mystery.
Both cases have their advantages and disadvantages. The first type doesn’t give us much to think about. We know what’s going on. However, we don’t know the outcome. There can be a kind of suspense in this case, especially if the antagonist has a similar level of power as the protagonist. They could be evenly matched, so we see a great struggle to overcome each other. We understand the dangers that the protagonist must meet, and we may even know the weaknesses of the antagonist. This kind of story can be frustrating because we tend to criticise the protagonist. We know what could be done, but we can’t affect the story.
On the other hand, the slow reveal can create a great amount of suspense and mystery. We don’t get to see the antagonist’s motivations, thoughts, or even know what they’re capable of. We only know what the protagonist knows. It’s as if we’re part of their team or group as a kind of observer. We don’t know how powerful the enemy is, nor do we know what they’re capable of. Anything could happen. One disadvantage is that we have no idea if the enemy has a limit. They could have immense powers that are never shown until the last minute, making us wonder if the writer is just making things up just to create more suspense.
I’ve read books with both kinds of approaches, and they both work. Superhero stories almost always reveal everything to the reader. We can anticipate a great struggle, and that’s what we want. On the other hand, a crime story has us in the shoes of the police or other investigator, and we know just as much as they do. It makes us think.
So, what do you prefer?