1. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    Am I stooping too low?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Some_Bloke, Dec 1, 2014.

    My Bonnie and Clyde-style story isn't just about the two main characters (as well as a "third wheel") flying around the galaxy on a crime spree. It also ties into corruption, gangs and space piracy. Many gangs want the team dead for interfering with their business so the team end up having to flee authorities, bounty hunters and gang members whilst trying to bring down some of the criminal empires. After all, if they wipe out the person who's placed the bounty on their heads then there isn't a bounty to collect.

    One of the members of a criminal gang, while he isn't the main antagonist in the story he is the "scummiest" out of all the gang leaders, the kind of person who'd kill his own mother if it would keep him in power just a little longer. There's really only one element to this character that makes me think I may be stooping too low to create a character who is for a lack of better words a total dick. I was considering making him a
    paedophile.

    It's not something that gets a lot of focus as it's only mentioned once or twice in passing but is mainly used at one part in the story to blackmail him as if he was found out he would lose support (people who are involved in piracy, trafficking and drugs have to draw the line somewhere). Not to mention the fact that the self-appointed ruler of Valhalla (the largest and most notorious colony on Mars) will probably have him flayed alive if word gets to her (again, she has to draw the line somewhere)

    It's also a display of power by the main antagonist, showing that they have eyes and ears everywhere.

    If I am indeed stooping too low to create a completely unlikeable character, what other relevant material could I use to blackmail a crime lord (especially with Mars being the scummiest place in the galaxy)?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Just my opinion: It depends on the seriousness of your story. If you are writing the average good guy/bad guy story, Bonnie and Clyde, Space detective story, that sort of thing, then no, I would not do that.

    If you are writing a deep story with evil characters that have serious issues, heavy drama, and so on, you could do it.

    In other words, don't do it gratuitously. If you do it, make sure it fits in the story.
     
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  3. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    What if it's really a mix of the two?

    This story and the universe it's set in is a pretty dark universe, but the characters (or at least some of them) can be quite uplifting. Gregory (the Clyde in this story) is psychologically damaged due to a critical error in his cryo-pod but he hides his fragile self behind a shell of humour.

    So he'll say some funny stuff every now and then, but anyone reading the story will slowly begin to realise that it's nothing but a shell as the story progresses. I think by a mix is that while at times it does appear to be a pretty "standard" universe it doesn't take much to see it's darker side.

    As the blackmail part is around half-way through the story, I'm hoping that the reader has caught on by that point (if I decide to use the paedophile at all)
     
  4. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think characters need to have shades of grey. Evil characters should not be all evil- and when they are they just become quite a tedious cardboard cut-out. You need to inject at least a little good into character's to make them believable rather than a slightly absurd caricature.

    With regard to the specific question, it depends how the paedo issue is handled- but I would certainly avoid throwing every possible bad trait you can think of at a character.
     
  5. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    If you can put all that together in a readable story, I'd be glad to read it.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    It still boils down to, is it gratuitous or does it belong in the story? There is no right or wrong.
     
  7. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    i agree with @Chinspinner they need some grey, a quick way to a one dimensional character is to make him do evil things simply because he's evil. Also agree with @GingerCoffee doesn't make sense to give him all the nasty traits you can think of for no apparent reason. The paedo and blackmail thing in a crime underworld doesn't fit either, i mean a banker in the city with a respectable job, wife and kids etc it would work sure, but here im not so sure.

    In terms of blackmail, surely with all the other crime bosses about he could have done something to them. Screwed them over somehow and got away with it? you could have them find some evidence etc. What with him being power hungry and all that would tie in.
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I don't personally feel that it has to be too overly justified to be included. In Frank Herbert's DUNE, the Baron Vladimir Harkonnen was a peadophile. He clearly lusted over his nephew Feyd Rautha and there is a scene in the book where he calls for a toy-boy to be brought to him, "the one who looks so much like Paul Atreides". The Baron would still have been the Baron without that element. It gets only a quick mention other than the fact that Feyd knows of his uncle's lust and is happy to use it to his own advantage. The story didn't "need" that element, but I think a lot of story elements get subjected to an unfair "need" factor because they are disturbing or distasteful. Just my 2p.
     
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  9. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Just a thought but do you think that having a lesser antagonist with such a vile trait would draw attention away from the main antagonist and make him the most hated character instead?
     
  10. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    The main antagonist isn't meant to be the most hated character though. Sure, he has to pose a viable threat to the protagonists and get in their way but he doesn't have to be complete scum (even if he is a crime lord).
    That and the paedophilia thing doesn't define that entire character, but it does help put him in place as being "scummy"
     
  11. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    That's what I'm afraid of the reader thinking. It's necessary because the main antagonist blackmails him, but a reader might think I've added the paedophilia thing for shock value or something weak like that. He would still be a "scummy" character without being a paedophile (even by crime lord standards).
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, when I say "subjected to an unfair 'need' factor", I'm actually talking about other writers, not the reader. There is another thread elsewhere in the forum that asks if using Jesus in a story and painting him in a less than perfect way is distasteful. Lots of members have responded that yes, it would be distasteful and that there would have to be VERY good reason to do so, that it's a "risky move". That it would need a great deal of justification.

    Why?

    What's all the panic? Taboo? Give me a break. I've read plenty of books where the story of Jesus is tapped and turned on its head. In Clive Barker's Imajica, God (the Abrahamic god of Christians and Jews and Islam, not some random, safe other god) is the bad guy who razed and made war on several realms to reach Heaven, which he invaded, overtook and occupied. Jesus was his son that he had with a mortal woman and who tried to kill him for being a thug. It's a great book. The thread here in the forum would have you believe that it's a story that should not be written, but it was, and it was published, and it is one of his better known works.

    Writing with no risk is porridge. I would so much rather you offend my sensibilities than bore them terribly. You feel me? If that's the way the character is coming to you, go with it. If it doesn't pan out, throw that part out, but don't shy away from it just because it's unpretty.
     
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  13. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    That sounds like a fantastic book! Love the imagination/creativity
     
  14. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    Well I am trying to make a character who's written to be hated and I hate being betrayed/stabbed in the back, something that this character has done throughout his entire career to rise to the position he is in now.

    Adding the fact that he's a paedophile makes me hate the character even more as there's nothing I hate more than people who intentionally harm children.

    Another thing I didn't mention is how Gregory could tie into this as one of the few things I have in common with my slightly insane anti-hero is his hatred of people who harm children. The fact that this crime lord is a paedophile could make trying to bring him down an even more personal mission for Gregory, a time we get to see him outside of his "humour shell". A point where Mirus (the Bonnie in this story) and Steven ("the third wheel") see a part of Gregory they've not seen before.

    With Mirus being his girlfriend and Steven his close friend they've obviously seen Gregory outside of his shell before but not like this, making for some interesting character development as Mirus tries to stop the really pissed off Gregory from taking unnecessary risks

    -OR-

    The main antagonist knows that Gregory will "flip his shit" if he learns that the secondary antagonist is a paedophile and that's another factor in the blackmail, making Gregory an even bigger threat. The main antagonist could even use this to set a trap and effectively eliminate two of his enemies at once. To top it all off, he wouldn't have to pay the expensive bounty he'd placed on Gregory's head if he had members of his own gang carry it out.

    The story is very much a work in progress so I could use either plot point (or even both) in the finished story
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Date rape is "scummy," pedophillia is SICK. Your character won't just be a dick, he will be mentally disturbed.
     
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  16. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that was the intention.
     
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  17. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    You make it sound as if a paedophile has a choice, rather than it being a mental illness brought on by a combination of genetic predisposition and early conditioning. In much the same way, I assume, as your anti-hero's slight insanity.

    On the other hand, what you're writing is to reflect reality, and the reality is that many people hate paedophiles (in the same way that many people hate gays) which is why many sufferers prefer to remain in the closet.
     
  18. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate to clarify your remark, but consent and the ability to provide it is the issue, which is why a gay and a practising peado are in no way comparable.

    Now, if a Paedo never acts upon his condition then you can perhaps have some sympathy for the poor bugger.
     
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  19. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is nothing (sexually) attractive about a child. Having intercourse with a twenty year old brain in a 10 year old's body would still be sick. Pedophiles are sick people. It's beyond morals.
     
  20. Gawler
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    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Exactly why I raised the point about a lesser character drawing too much attention away from the main antagonist.
     
  21. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    The simple point is that no-one would choose to have these repugnant inclinations. And if someone does it is a form of mental illness that needs to be treated by medical staff rather than the court of public opinion.
     
  22. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Isn't that what everyone has been saying? Now I'm confused
     
  23. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, me as well now...
     
  24. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Not sure how much detail you plan on going into with the peadophile character, but if they're expendable, perhaps your main antagonist (the "self-appointed ruler of Valhalla"?) could hear of his depravity and could flay him alive. That would offer the "shades of grey" that you require for you main antagonist.
     
  25. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am aware of at least one person who is facing jail time for paedophilia without there having been any "acting upon the condition". But that probably won't stop people from acting upon their prejudices. Which was the point that I was making about reality being what it is.
     

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