1. Mokrie Dela
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    Mokrie Dela Member

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    Anti-heroes.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mokrie Dela, Jun 14, 2012.

    Hi. I signed up yesterday, so my sincere appologies if this topic has been covered before - i had a little look but couldnt see it.

    Basically one of my works follow the exploits of an anti-hero. he's a bad guy, you know the man that james bond fights against so to speak. Through most of my life, mostly in films, i have always liked the bad guys. i find them cool, and i often wish for a book where the bad guy's the protagonist, as contradictory as that sounds.

    The biggest challenge that i'm aware of in this though, is making the bad guy likable, without making him a good guy. I don't want the character to be doing bad deeds in his quest to save his little girl, or family, or anything like that. I want it to be more along the lines of he's doing bad things because he wants to (though of course there will be a goal for him).

    Has anyone had any challenges writing the protagonist as a badguy/antihero? Do you find it a not-too-common concept? Also do you guys have any tips on it?

    Thanks for your time :)
     
  2. Cassiopeia Phoenix
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    Cassiopeia Phoenix Contributing Member

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    My experience on bad guys that are liked they often don't have the bully mentality as the core of their action. Bullies think they are entitled to harass other people for reasons that doesn't concern to them, or even don't exist. There was a time when bullies were considered to have low self steem and that kind of thing, but researches showed that they think well of themselves: they think they are correcting something "wrong" and that they are "right", which somehow excuses their actions on their minds.

    I love bad guys, too. But they often had some past trauma, or an inner turmoil to show that they are humans -- or aliens with feelings, whatever -- rather than mere bullies who think themselves "right" and other people "wrong" just for the sake of it. Avoiding the bully mentality can be a good thing for your protagonist, me thinks.

    Edit: And some guiltyless bad guys who are psychopaths are interesting also, though... I like them just as much.
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even 'bad guys' have something in them that's relatable or good. They can't be purely a force for evil. The character must have some interests that would be common to other people. You could also show how he considers his desire for doing whatever it is that makes him 'bad' -- killing, stealing, whatever it is, and explore how the reasons why other people don't do those things are of no consequence to him or are overridden by some other desire.

    The advantage you have is that people start out wanting to like the MC. There's a built in longing to connect with him and see him succeed or see him happy when people start reading the story. When it turns out the character is somehow immoral, people will get conflicted about rooting for him. A prime example is Dexter (I haven't read the books -- only watched the series.) At least as far as the television show goes, most people like and root for Dexter, even though he is a psychopathic serial killer.

    To make the bad guy likable, put in as many things as you can to make him relatable to most people.
     
  4. Mokrie Dela
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    Mokrie Dela Member

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    strange, my post wasn't posted :S let's try again

    Thanks for the advice guys. Good example about Dexter too.

    I have two characters (different stories that i cant speak much about), who are supposed to be anti heroes.

    The first is set in the future, where the character wakes up in prison with the cliched amnesia and sets about to find out why he's there and who he is, and doesnt like what he finds out, about himself and the world. I think that's a start for the antihero.

    The other is set in the old west, where the protagonist has a policy on personal freedom. Problem with that is that it's causing major problems, and i think i need some event in his past to trigger his anti-hero attitude.

    We've all got pissed off with things, and we've all wanted to smash shit up before - i suppose it might pay to stir that up in the reader.

    Does anyone have any good examples of antiheroes? Stories where the protagonist is the bad guy (not a good guy who does bad things though)
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know there are many and you'll probably get a lot of examples. Just off the top of my head, another one from television is Tony Soprano.
     
  6. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    The majority of my protagonists are anti-heroes. I don't find them any easier/more difficult than writing a "good guy" (I just choose not to write that sort of character as an MC). Rather than trying to portray them as an "evil" character I find it's more interesting to explore the psychological reasons behind their actions. And, of course, no character is all bad - wouldn't that be boring?
     
  7. adampjr
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    adampjr Member

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    I think this would be an interesting idea and I can't think that I've read anything like this. I imagine that you still want him to be a "bad guy" that the reader still wants to be stopped? Or do you want the reader to really be on the side of this character?

    On the Dexter issue, I've only seen the first season but I don't really consider him a "bad guy" or anti-hero so far. He's a psychopath but he channels his actions against real bad guys, so I view Dexter as an actual good guy, the only difference being that society would condemn his actions.
    While I'm thinking of TV shows, The Tudors has just come to my mind. The main character of the show is King Henry VIII, but he's an evil man with virtually no redeeming qualities and everyone is the worse off for having known him. I enjoyed the show and following his life, even though I was always partially hoping for his undoing and rejoiced every time he didn't get what he wanted.
     
  8. louis1
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    louis1 Contributing Member

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    In my head Dexter is not really and antihero, he always does the good thing in the end. I'd recommend you watching Breaking Bad.
    Breaking bad is a tv show about the study of change. We start of with Walter White the good guy/ hero and on the course of 5/6 seasons he slowly becomes the bad guy. It's an amazing show, the writing is incredibly good, dialogue and story wise.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    J. R. Ewing of Dallas is an antihero. Vic Mackey of The Shield was an antihero. Thomas Crown was an antihero. Catwoman is an antihero. Hannibal Lecter is an antihero.

    These are all characters who do antisocial, or even despicable, things, but the reader is compelled to cheer them on.

    Severus Snape of the Harry Potter series is also ultimately an antihero, although the heroic side of him is only apparent near the end. Most of the time he is cast in a very unsympathetic light.

    Watch or read these characters to see how they are cast in a sympathetic light by their writers.
     
  10. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    The character of Dexter Morgan is a prime example of an antihero.
     
  11. Samo
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    I'm also a huge fan of anti-heroes.

    Macbeth is a good example of an anti-hero. Committing regicide and blaming two guards (who he also murders), he kills to fuel his ambition. The question is, why do we feel a loss when Macbeth is ultimately killed?

    Empathy is inspired the moment we see him feeling guilty for the awful things he feels he has to do. It is there, in this contradiction to his seemingly driven nature, that we realise we are like Macbeth and that we share a common humanity. Having an empathetic character is far more important than having a character we can only sympathise with.
     
  12. Mokrie Dela
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    The latter, though the former isn't a bad idea. There a complexity to his character that I can't go in to, a reason why he would do bad thing for example, but the reader wont find that out for a long time. He is an outcast, feared and marked for death basically. The world perceives him as evil, but then the world, from his point of view, isn't good. While ultimately his exploits can be explained by the complexity I can't speak of, I'm trying to make the reader connect with him even though he's a bad man of sorts. He has power, so to speak, and is willing to use it, but the world isn't simple. He has a few friends, but I'm still looking for that magic connection. Im thinking perhaps fear - he becomes a monster so the monster won break him, if that makes sense.

    RE breaking bad - where can I find that show? (I live in England) I've heard of it but never seen it advertised.


    Another possible antihero just came to mind - John Clark from the Tom Clancy books (and rainbow six)
     

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