1. Fitz101
    Offline

    Fitz101 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oxford, UK

    Antagonists - How far can you go?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Fitz101, Apr 18, 2009.

    This is less me asking for serious advice and more a case of thinking out loud and wondering if anyone wants to weigh in on it a little bit...

    My primary antagonist is a high ranking figure in the US Intelligence community and former Presidential Cabinet member who has been tasked by the new President to clean up after a high level conspiracy has claimed the lives of several prominent figures in the Political and Business worlds. He's very ambitious and willing to do pretty much anything and everything to achieve his aims - he's already killed a former Vice - President to advance himself and his own agenda. Now he's in a situation where he may have to order the deaths of several detectives in the LAPD who are coming close to a potentially damaging revelation, to the point where it would have the potential to result in Impeachment of the current President and very likely prosecution. Resources are not a problem, he has field agents from the CIA, NSA and Military Intelligence at his disposal.

    My concern is fairly trivial. How far can he go? This is, at the end of the day a government official, an ambitious, fairly well known one at that. He's already made the death of the former Vice - President look like an accident (a helicopter crash caused by mechanical failure that killed the VP, his bodyguard and the two pilots). He's now faced with the situation where he may have to kill up to eight LAPD Detectives and their immediate families. Is this too far for an intelligence officer in his own country, one that is seen to the world as cherishing democracy? Particularly for a man who may have Presidential ambitions of his own one day?

    I understand that I'm rambling, but it's late and I just thought I'd throw that out there...
     
  2. Reflections
    Offline

    Reflections New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I am assuming you are not talking about how morally far he is willing to go, he has already killed a person, so I am (again) assuming you mean is he willing to risk killing that many people to achieve his own ends. If that is the case, it would depend on how well known he was. If many people know who he is, and a number of individuals have already discovered what he did (or at least are on the road to), then killing them would not be a good idea. Killing these people (and their immediate families) would raise much more suspicion, especially if these people talked about what they were investigating, which they probably did. You said that it could lead to prosecution, but if he killed them (if the witnesses disappeared) it would look much more damning in the eyes of the public. Again, even if they have yet to find out exactly what he did, they most likely talked to their friends on the force, or other friends, about what they are investigating, if they (and their families die) all these people would become highly suspicious. They might discover what he has done, and report it to the police, the media, or spread it on the Internet. All of which would be a problem. Although, this would ruin the story a bit, and this also assumes the individual is logically; murder might show that he is not.
    If you are talking about morality, then I doubt he would care. His main goal seems to be ambition, and in all honesty (from my highly cynical perspective) people in the government rarely care about helping people, they care about getting elected. Democracy is just something they pay lip service to. He has already proven that he does not care about the laws of this country; he killed the Vice President. This shows a distinct lack of caring. Killing others to further his own goals would not seem to be out of line with his character. Of course, I am a highly, highly (Bordering on misanthropy) cynical person, so this may not be that objective.
     
  3. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    just read any bunch of gov't conspiracy/betrayal novels, watch their movie counterparts, and you'll learn that nothing you can dream up is 'too' anything, compared to what's already been written...
     
  4. B-Gas
    Offline

    B-Gas Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2007
    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    14
    Don't ask us. Ask him. Actually, ask him: How far is too far? What would you never, ever do? What line in the sand would you never, ever cross?

    Then figure out a way to make him do it anyway. Find out what circumstances would push him over that line. This will give you a handle on his character; then you can start figuring out how far he's willing to go, how far he thinks he can go, and how far he'll go by the end of the story.
     
  5. Dcoin
    Offline

    Dcoin Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Messages:
    279
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    NYC
    Watch the TV show '24'.
     
  6. g1ng3rsnap9ed
    Offline

    g1ng3rsnap9ed Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2009
    Messages:
    204
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A small town called Pox...
    I take things a little too far when it comes to antagonists. I was just typing up my manuscript the other day and was genuinely offended by the things that I had written in dialogue and description. Funny enough, the character's name is God. :D
     
  7. lynneandlynn
    Offline

    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    746
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    If you don't know how far is too far for the genre you're writing in, I'd suggest reading as many books as you can that are written in that genre to get a better feel for it. I'm not too big on government conspiracies and cover-ups, but there are tons of books out there that fall into that category.

    ~Lynn
     
  8. daturaonfire
    Offline

    daturaonfire Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2009
    Messages:
    117
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Nowhere
    "My primary antagonist is a high ranking figure in the US Intelligence community..."

    On the morality, only you can decide if he's depraved enough. I would certainly believe it of a high official. Now, as to whether or not he can actually get away with it, I have to concur with Reflections. It seems very unlikely to me that the death of eight LAPD detectives would not arouse the suspicion of the public at large. A couple questions to answer that might help:

    1) How well-known is your antagonist to the public? Is he someone known by name and seen on TV frequently? If he isn't in the public eye yet, there's a chance that he can dodge the fallout of such a suspicious event. He also may be able to shift the blame to someone else--a political rival, perhaps?

    2) What type of event would kill your LAPD detectives? It seems to me staging a "terrorist" attack would be the best way to handle this. We're still pretty uneasy after 9/11, and wouldn't have a hard time believing that the LAPD was targeted by terrorists. In any event it's going to be highly suspect. However, if you blow something up, there's not gonna be a lot of evidence left to say otherwise. =\

    I'm not really into big government affiars, so I'm not sure if any of this will be useful. Hope it helps. = )
     
  9. bluebell80
    Offline

    bluebell80 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    636
    Likes Received:
    18
    Location:
    Vermont
    I don't think it is a matter of "how far should he go" but, a matter of what will your reader accept as reality? What are his motivations for going "too far" and what are the consequences of doing so? Will he have any sort of redeeming factors to him, or is he evil to the core? Do you want your reader to hate him with a passion, pity him, sympathize with him, or feel ambivalent? What he does will shape the readers opinion of him and his counter part the hero. How drastic is the difference between antagonist and the hero/protagonist, as far as good and evil goes.

    You have utter and complete control when it comes to what you want your reader to feel. You dictate how they feel it, when they feel it and why they feel it, so play with it. Try a scene where your antagonist is really, really bad, and then rewrite the scene with him acting differently, or making different decisions. This way you can see how each personality fits him.

    This is part of the characterization process and will bring your character more to life.

    Good luck,
    Jenn
     

Share This Page