1. CMastah
    Offline

    CMastah Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    43

    Creating a sympathetic/sympathizable jerk/borderline evil MC

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CMastah, May 24, 2015.

    Ok, so here's my situation:

    EDIT: Small note, at the beginning the character is eight.

    I finished writing the first draft of my story (small victory, the re-write is seeing many changes), and had to change something big. You see, the male MC (I say male because I also have a female MC) at first, when his village is massacred starts hallucinating badly, and then begins a regimen that involves supernaturally suppressing his hallucinations and his negative emotions. At the end of the second story (very end, like the last few paragraphs of the second story to be exact) drops the regimen (it has dark connections to the death of his people) and he snaps, completely. He starts hallucinating again, unable to snap himself to reality sometimes, and becomes hateful, even of his companions that he later starts to irrationally think are conspiring against him.

    Small note: he drops the regimen eight years later when he's sixteen.

    Firstly, I cut the hallucinating at the start because I don't believe I can sell that he's hallucinating (out of trauma) merely seconds/minutes after the murder of his friend (not unless he's psychotic). With hallucinations beginning to go lite, I'm finding it hard to sell that he'd crack so bad by the end of the second story. When I wrote up the beginning the first time (when he's seeing things like crazy), he also came off as a wuss (my friend pointed out how weak the character comes off), so I changed it around and now while he comes off stronger, it seems less plausible that he'd start hallucinating or that the hallucinations would be that bad. To add some context however, a fey-like creature projects the vision of the death of his (the MC's) people into his mind to convince him to run.

    My problem? The character going off the deep end (and staying off the deep end) at the end of the second story and making it seem plausible that he'd only descend into worse territory, especially when the beginning had to be less melodramatic. I also need tips on how to keep the character sympathetic to the reader when he does crack. The fey-like creature projecting the images into his mind I feel makes this somewhat easier, though how do I do hallucinations well?

    So far I have a brief glimpse of a dead friend, and the whisper of another. Later (and I may end up cutting this), the environment around him fades from view and he's standing next to two dead friends and he's partially believing he's there. When he's smacked awake, he forgets he just had that hallucination. At night he hallucinates that one of his dead friends is with him in the room and he's trying to protect her.
     
  2. cutecat22
    Offline

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2014
    Messages:
    2,434
    Likes Received:
    1,063
    Location:
    England
    Maybe to make the hallucinations more believable, you need to superimpose them onto your character's real life surroundings, like, lets say he's in a forest, he can see the trees and the path he's walking but he can also see his dead friends, perhaps coming towards him or even just going about their business like the MC's not even there. If he can't discern what's real and what's a hallucination and then on top of that the confusion that he's trying to talk to his friends and they are ignoring him (because they are not real) will send him deeper into a depression. (or, going off the deep end).

    I think (and this is just my opinion) your readers will have a little bit of affection for him because the only reason he's a jerk/evil, is because of what he went through when his village was massacred. The reader will follow the MC's journey through his depression because they will undoubtedly be rooting for him to have a happy ending. (i.e. he comes out of his depression and turns his life around.)

    You have a lot more difficulty creating sympathy when your evil character is evil 'just because', or if the only reason he/she is evil, is because of something they themselves have done. (i.e. I have an evil character who did something to herself to spite person A, unfortunately, what she did ended up having terrible ramifications on her own life. This made her extremely bitter to the point that she decided to place the blame on person A and seek revenge not only against Person A, but also Person B and Person C just to make herself feel better. Obviously, the reader will hate this evil person from the get-go but there is a short section right in the middle of all the upset where the evil character starts to have a fleeting change of heart which lulls the reader into a false sense of "maybe this character will do the right thing ...")
     
  3. CMastah
    Offline

    CMastah Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2014
    Messages:
    223
    Likes Received:
    43
    Thanks, I was going off my beta reader (.....my ONLY beta reader.....) who admits he hates the hallucination aspect. He also hates the 'whiny' aspect, but given at the very start the character is hearing his people screaming and watching them die, I feel my MC is justified in being upset (I didn't think I'd made him whiny, but I guess I need to get my hands on more beta readers).

    EDIT: I'm currently tying the hallucinations to the visions the fey-like creature projected into his mind, but I'm hoping I can sell the hallucination. I'm trying to mold them better, make it obvious the character really believes he's in the past again when he experiences it (because he's not supposed to be aware most of the time that it's just a hallucination).
     

Share This Page