External Betrayal is any betrayal outside of the character: friends, family, lovers, even the broader setting in the form of sunken ships, storms and shifting, unstable landscape.
External betrayal draws readers in because it is so often personal, a deeply emotional abandonment by those with whom we (and our characters) are most vulnerable.
The two ingredients necessary for this form of betrayal:
1. Establish the close relationship, especially the emotional closeness and trust.
2. Provide a powerful and realistic motivation for the betrayer.
Keeping these two essentials in mind, here are a few ways to further enhance the visceral impact of External Betrayal :
• The closer the friendship, the more scarring the betrayal
• Consider the timing of the betrayal. Cull your story for the time when your protagonist most needs the betrayer, and spring the betrayal at that exact moment.
• Some bestsellers immediately reveal the identity of the betrayer, others prolong the suspense. Consider how both options might affect your story.
Example of External Betrayal
Olympus Has Fallen provides a great example of external betrayal. A close friend and secret service agent not only betrays the main character (nearly killing him at a pivotal point near the end of the story), but also betrays the entire country. This is personal, professional and prolific betrayal.