1. Lone Wanderer
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    Lone Wanderer Member

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    A controversial and/or "evil" Protagonist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lone Wanderer, Aug 27, 2013.

    My current work involves a hero who, in terms of his universe, is very evil. He is not a Frodo out to save the world and the good guys know and love him, no, most of the population would find my protagonist appalling

    He is a reluctant young man who has been driven to violence where protest and words have been met with brute force. He is apart of a terrorist organization that fights a fascist America with a federal sponsored church and anti-Muslim/Jewish laws.

    Is this more of an anti-hero or just a matter of perspective?
     
  2. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's always a matter of perspective. The "hero" versus "antihero" argument will be decided by your audience. He will be filtered through their ideas of societal norms and what constitutes heroism or villainy. Those ideas will determine whether they see this guy as "good," "evil," "heroic," "villainous," etc. Not everyone defines those words the same way. One man's hero is another's villain, and everything in-between.

    Personally, I'd call him an antihero. But, without having read his story and seen the nuances of his character (his intent, his opponent's intent, the stakes, the methods, the sacrifices, etc) any labels I throw at him aren't worth the digital code they're written on. My perspective is too limited.
     
  3. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    IMO:

    The first rule of writing Villain Protagonists is that you don't talk about is that it's best to acknowledge the Protagonist as a Villain. Certainly not in their own mind: AnonyMouse is exactly right that any villain is the hero of his/her own story, and any hero is the villain of another's. However, the world around the VP should react to him/her as it would react to any other villain, even if (or especially if) the VP feels unjustly persecuted for "doing what had to be done."

    The second rule of writing Villain Protagonists is that it's best to also have good guys somewhere else in the story. It can be VP vs. Hero Antagonist*, it can be VP vs. Villain Antagonist with good guys on the sidelines**, but if the story is only about villains vs. villains without any good guys in the mix, then it's harder for the audience to care about the conflict because they don't care who wins.

    *Brutus vs. Marc Antony
    Macbeth vs. Macduff,
    Light Yagami vs. L

    **Walter White and Michael Corleone had their wives/children
    Dexter Morgan had the cops he worked with
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
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  4. Lone Wanderer
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    Lone Wanderer Member

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    The problem with that is the fact that this is supposed to be very political and there are no heroes in the story. The primary conflictis that you have a fascist government with laws against anyone who isn't christian against a divided terrorist organization who attack military and churches while its members bicker over their ultimate goals.

    But I will take your advice and make the world's reaction more present.
     
  5. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    Walter white is a monster if there ever was one. My opinion on writing "villains" is do not write them like they have some moral authority on anything. I have been working on a dark fantasy character that is really to be honest a mass murdering sociopath. But I have never found good guys or hero's fun to write you can go places with a anti hero or villain then you could with a straight good guy.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Part of the fun when creating any protagonist is not dealing in absolutes.

    What a 'bad guy' does may well be 'bad,' but his motivation might be less blackā€”in fact, it might even be understandable. In fact, you might even end up agreeing with him. Same for good guys. They may well do good things, but maybe their thoughts and feelings are a lot murkier than their external persona would lead you to believe.

    I'd caution any writer to stay away from stereotypes, if possible. Get into character motivation. Instead of focusing on what the character does, start to explore why he does it. I think that's where your real story and its conflicts are likely to be found.
     
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  7. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ^Seconded.

    Me 'n mah writing partner rarely set out to write villains. We usually have two or more sides, the characters have some goals they want to reach, the goals clash, and conflict ensues. However, we do have this fantasy-ish work in progress with a rather clear villain into whose head we will never even go since he's an angel and in our story, angels don't have similar cognitive abilities and processes as humans, so going inside his head would require us to write something like "ghrgtgtfff hyggjjjn bzzz" because our readers are humans and aren't supposed to understand what goes on inside an angel's head. Now if an angel read that story...
    I digress. My point was, to the OP, I think you can pretty much just quit pondering whether your character is a villain or an antihero or hero or whatevs, just write him as a character of his own, with motives of his own, unless you get some satisfaction out of labeling him then go ahead, read definitions of anti-heroes and see how many attributes match...
     
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  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    So ...would you use italics for his thoughts? :)
     
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  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Whoops, I was supposed to reply but I ended up liking your post! Oh well, it's a good question x)

    Italics for thoughts is clearly Satan's invention, but on the other hand, this angel is quite evil so... hmm...
     
  10. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, hmmm....ghrgtgtfff hyggjjjn bzzz...
     
  11. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Whether his universe finds him evil isn't anywhere near as important as the whether the reader does. There's often a lot of sympathy for characters fighting against repressive regimes.

    As long as the audience finds him interesting and can empathise with him at least a bit, they'll read. Be good, be evil, just don't be boring while you're doing it.
     
  12. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I would agree, It's all about the world's reaction. "Good" and "Evil" are perceptive judgements, therefore, it should be portrayed thus in the story. I tried writing a character once who was clearly the villain of the story and he was evil for the sake of being evil. He opened the door to a lot of possibilities, but the fact that he knew he was evil kind of undercut the scenes in which we were in his perspective. So you aren't so much writing a villain as the protag. as you are writing a person, out to save the world, but is a menace to society. If you look at Pop-fiction character's like Batman, he is a hero to some while a villain to others. Loo at Lex Luthor, he doesn't think he's evil, the world does because of what he does.

    Still, one day when I'm a better writer I do want to try my hand at writing a character who know's he's evil, just to see how it plays out. I recall Grendel in Beowulf. If you look deeply enough, he has motivations for terrorizing Hrothgar's hall, but at some level he recognizes he's a scourge and plays on it. He was typecast as a monster, and thus became the monster he was always called.
     
  13. DPVP
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    DPVP Active Member

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    from experience of people looking at what i have been writing, i think audiences can be very sympathetic to someone that crosses the line. if the character sees the action as necessary it seems to be easy to explain away. also if they are interesting and relatable they can cross lines
     
  14. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    IMO, that sounds like a hero I would root for. Fighting against fascism and non separation of church and state are heroic in my book.

    What would make him evil is if he made people conform to a certain way of life, robbing of free will, and oppression. That's evil. If what he's doing could perceived as "necessary" in some way, I think the audience would like it.
     
  15. Lucid420
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    Lucid420 New Member

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    If he is only 'evil' due to the fact that he has ideals that are not a part of the social norm, ie Galileo, then he is not really evil. It is the actions that count.
    Now if he is killing people that are a part of the system, but not a governing part of the system, such as a guy at a cafe who is just trying to get thru his day at his call center job; that would be evil. This would point to the all or nothing and that others who do not have the same views as him should die. All he would be doing in actuality is acting the same way the state he is fighting does, but we are also to consider the state evil.
    Kind of reminds me of Cambodia in the 70's.
     

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