1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Confused on a concept

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GuardianWynn, Apr 6, 2015.

    Okay. Emotional understanding isn't best trait. I always kind of been a numbers kind of guy. I look at emotions almost like numbers that I try to calculate.

    That being said. I keep hearing a similar comment about a character.

    I wrote a rough draft of her book(30k) and at a few points my goal was actually for the character to not be likable. Like I had them do some seriously mean things. Well more the character design made that their natural choice. Like killed in cold blood and laughing while doing it. Yet no one disliked her for it. Actually the comment I keep hearing is this.

    "I like her when she is good but I love her when she isn't."

    WHY?!!! I feel I need someone to explain this to me. For a month now... I just can't figure it out.

    Thank you.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would guess that they like her enough, and identify with her enough, that when she does something bad they get a vicarious thrill, imagining the idea of having similar freedom themselves.

    Is she doing bad things to bad people, or at the very least to annoying people? I would hope that it would be different if she, say, robbed a hardworking waiter and stole all his tips, or kicked a well-behaved child.
     
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  3. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you achieved success -- the reader enjoys reading about your character.
     
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  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That sounds interesting and definitely sounds like you're doing it right, whatever it is :D I'd say just keep doing whatever you're doing. Sometimes people like eccentric characters and if your character takes unusual risks that others wish they could but never would, or your character comes across as quirky, brave, or perhaps if the reader can understand why she does what she does and why, then that makes an interesting character.

    Perhaps her unpredictability comes as a breath of fresh air or that her reactions are things normal real life people would have had too but social etiquette demands that we suppress it, so it comes as a relief to read about someone who feels the same things and shows them too.
     
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  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    A little of both. Sometimes she harmed bad people. Or implied bad people. Though some times se harmed good people. One such example. She grabbed a noble cop. Someone who had never done anyone any wrong. She lifted him off the ground by his neck and proceeded to wait for him to die from lack of oxygen.

    She never really stole, except life and no she isn't seen attacking a child but it is implied she has.

    I am not 100% sure what you were getting at here.
     
  6. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    most popular characters on TV recently. House, Dexter, Omar, Don Draper, Tony Soprano, Walter White...you dont need to have a moral compass to be likable. Sometimes the evil characters tap into our desire to break from the social norms and just lash out. Most people would never do this (which is a good thing) but can enjoy a character that can. They just need to have enough reason to like them first.
     
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  7. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    So living vicariously through the evil of fiction?
    I think I can get that.
    Thanks

    @ everyone else. I think now that I am more awake I get you guys were trying to say the same thing. So thank you all. I figured there was something more than that too this but I guess the best answer is always then one that begs the least questions.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I said quite a few things in my post. Which part don't you get? Happy to clarify but wanna know exactly what needs clarifying :)
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    The overall message alluded me for some reason.

    I finished reading the passage and my mind went "I have no idea what she were tying to convey"

    Sorry! :cry:
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Loool. No probs. All right, let's see...

    So, for example, you have a nasty boss who's always bullying everyone. You want to punch him, only you can't. You never would. You'd lose your job.

    Then comes a story where a character punches his/her boss in the jaw. You can relate to that feeling - that desire, that anger, that outburst, and you can only imagine the relief and pleasure doing such a thing would afford. So you enjoy this character's behaviour - you egg them on because you understand perfectly.

    Or another example - people enjoy action thrillers probably because they love the thrill of all those car chases and gun fights but would never want to be in one in real life. You're sorta living out your vicarious desires and thrills through the story in a safe environment.

    This is self-explanation, I think?

    Perhaps this one just needs a rephrase. If we can understand why someone does something, then we can relate better. It also adds depth to the character. This makes the character interesting. So a wife who cheats on her husband may seem unlikeable. But if we understand she is cheating on him because she feels utterly neglected and we witness her making attempts to reconnect with her husband and yet her husband pays no attention, then suddenly we sympathise. She's developed as a character - there's now a back story. It's interesting.

    Ever seen formulaic movies or books? They're boring. There're patterns of behaviour, especially within genres, that characters almost always follow. Sometimes they're just a genre pattern, say romance where the woman eventually realises her existing boyfriend is no good for her and she simply must get the main love interest (only of course now that she realises this, the main love interest has moved on, or there's some complication etc etc). Sometimes, the behaviour might just be the next most logical thing that most people would do. For example, your boss yells at you in the office in front of everyone. Most people would keep quiet and fume silently.

    Now, what if your character chucks a glass of water in the boss's face in that moment? It takes you by surprise. It's fresh (or fresher). Or in the case of the romance, what if the existing boyfriend is actually a really lovely, decent man and the woman actually has to make a genuinely difficult choice? Now suddenly it's interesting because you don't quite know what's gonna happen. It's fresh because it's unpredictable.

    So if your character's laughing as she's chopping people to pieces - well, that's pretty different. Her reaction was not normal. And for some people, that could be very entertaining/interesting because it's just so fresh. Her reaction becomes fascinating and you want to try and work her out, because she's so unlike anyone you've come across.

    I guess this one was actually just me repeating myself. Essentially my "punch your boss" example applies here as well.

    But I guess in my mind when I wrote this, I meant smaller things - for example, in the sitcom Friends, Phoebe said, "Don't you find it so annoying when people put their babies on the phone?" And Rachel, being a mother, says, "Hey!" You see, what Phoebe said was totally unacceptable - only it's also true. It's something no one would ever dare actually say, especially not say to the mother's face.

    Or when Rachel's sister said, "You know, people don't seem to like being told that their babies are ugly." The line's funny because it defies social etiquette - it completely crosses the line of what is acceptable. Except these are things almost all of us has at some point thought/felt - only we couldn't voice them. For someone fictional to voice what we deeply desire to voice is a relief, and therefore funny, and refreshing.

    Is this clearer now? :D I was just trying to think of reasons why perhaps people liked your character, as she seemed pretty unusual/eccentric. Her behaviour seems to go beyond what is normally seen as acceptable to society. And that can be a good thing if her reasons and her behaviour reflect how some people might actually want to behave in the same situation, but know they never could in real life.
     
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  11. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wish I could give you two likes for the detailed response.
    So in a word. You think people love seeing this character who lives truely free in a sense. It is true. The story is about her well I call it redemption. Idea being that she dies as a villain and in the after life she starts to realize how mean she was and tries to turn over a new leaf. At first though yeah she well. Like spits on a gods face. She didn't care. She does what she wants. lol. Which is your point.

    The event in question though. It seems so much worse than your examples. In a sense she finds a man in the ally way doing something questionable. She breaks his neck. This I get. He was defined as being at least bad. He didn't deserve death but he wasn't a model citzen. The idea though in core concept is like a cop seeing this and trying to assest her. Her response is killing him too even though he is a purely innocent soul. I still find it wierd that people like her doing it. Seems so evil. Know what I mean?

    Though you did give me a idea. The concept is about her remembering these events and trying to face them and make up for them. Maybe that adds to the love of her character? Maybe it is they love her in spite of her faults rather than loving her for them. Does that make sense?
     
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  12. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    I am currently in route to $5 Basil Hayden's, so I will admit that I've skipped over my fellow posters.

    My input is that it's hard to completely make a character unlikeable. If it's a main character you'll always want to add certain attributes that you've gleamed over your life. A conversation you had with a stranger, a connection with a relative, a friend you've spent countless time with. All of those individual moments add up to the coagulation of what you see as people's character. Imagine trying to move only one finger out of all ten that you possess. You have to directly focus on that single action or you'll unconsciously move the others. It's the same with writing. You stop for a day and write the next. Anything could have happened within that time to change your perception or mood. It'll be reflected into your writing as such.

    The best thing to do is reread the character over and over and see where you added the "likeable" moments. For instance, does the character do anything heroic? Maybe instead of heroic, how about impressive? Is the character vivacious and active? Does the character show no fear and makes actions based on a strong will? Consider traits people would find likeable and evaluate how they reflect onto your character.
     
  13. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    To add to that, I love characters who clearly experience fear, but act despite it. (It is a platitude, but it is true: courage is not the absence of fear, but the will to do what you fear doing.)

    It does not matter if they act for good or for evil -- I admire all forms of courage.
     
  14. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does it count if the person is scared of their self or their own sins but faces them in order to apologize?
     
  15. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, that is one of the most interesting forms of courage and it is highly effective for developing the character.
     
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  16. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're a GUY?! :supershock:

    :supercheeky:

    As for your question, I would love it if people loved my bad character. lol To me, that'd be a huge success. But if you want your character to actually BE hated, take a look at Game of Thrones.

    Joffrey. Everyone hates him. Why? Because he's evil. lol He has people killed who make him look bad. He promises to keep people safe, then kills them. He severely mistreats people simply because of who they are related to. He has people beaten who don't agree with him. He humiliates people for the fun of it.

    Joffrey is unpredictable. You always think he'll do one thing, but what he actually does ends up being far worse. In the beginning, his lies were so convincing that, when he went against them, it was a huge shock. Then his cruelty was just expected. But even though he is cruel, he's also a coward. He doesn't fight in battle, and he often has others do his killing for him.

    It's not enough for your character to simply enjoy killing people in cold blood. Sad as it may be, murder is a common trend in popular culture today, so I think people are a little desensitized to it. If you want her to be really bad, think of the worst thing you can imagine. I mean, the absolute worst thing someone could do.... Then have her do something worse than that.

    Good luck!:superagree:
     
  17. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually my goal isn't for her to be hated. At least not in here(She is in more than one working idea). She is the main character. The book follows her from start to finish. Also she is trying to make up for her past evil. One scene in particular has her apologizing to someone to whom she personally murdered(Setting is in the after life). Said person actually tries to best her up to which she allows. Or tries to, she could easily defend herself but she doesn't. Later saying the memories of what she did to him were far more painful then his attacks.

    So people liking her I get. I mean facing your sins or your past isn't easy. But I flash back to some of those moments where she is just really mean and expected someone to dislike her a little for it. I mean I say she was a bad person. I figured I have to show that. I thought when I did she would lose points with a reader. So I am amazed that she seemed to gain points by it.

    Does that make sense?
     
  18. Lea`Brooks
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    Makes sense. :) But it sounds like you're on the right track. Now that you've explained it a little more, I completely understand why readers would like her. People like redemption stories, which yours clearly is. She was bad in the past, now she's trying to make up for it. People connect with that. I'd actually be more worried if people DIDN'T like her.
     
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  19. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even the moments when she is so nasty though?
    I get liking her when she is trying to do better but when it flash backs on her being so evil and enjoying it?
     
  20. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Absolutely! People probably like her more BECAUSE of those flashbacks. They see how bad she was, versus how hard she's trying now, and it makes her change even greater. If you just wrote a book about how bad she was, there's a good chance the reader would hate her. But since you're presenting her story in this way, her backstory doesn't have much effect on how people see her now. In a novel, people typically care about who the character IS, not who they USED to be.
     
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  21. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh that is a good point.
    Her evil past is telling people how meaningful her current self is. The gap difference is huge because she was evil. So people say
    "I like her when she is good but love her when she is evil."

    They really mean

    "I liked her when she was good but I fell in love with her when I learned how hard she has been working on it."

    Something like that?
     

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