1. motormouth
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    motormouth Member

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    Dirty rotten scoundrels (can this work???)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by motormouth, Dec 21, 2011.

    Im considering writing a script which involves 2 protagonists. Both are reporters competing to uncover a really hot story first (the winner will get a promotion). So they both approach the story from different angle (go different places, talk to different people) the scenes will alternate between them. But the way i want to approach them is this way- neither of them is really a "good" guy. Both are flawed in their own ways-

    Reporter 1- Female . Quite frankly a total b****h. She will be brutally honest about approaching her targets and talking to other people, doesnt really care about their feelings. But is at least straight forward to people. Quite early she tells a new recruit that shes supposed to mentor to make it in the business he has to man up and stannd on his own two feet rather than expect her to guide him.

    Reporter 2- Male- Much more pleasant but highly manipulative deceit, will resort to trickery and deceit to achieve his goal. He get paired with a "dumb blonde type character who her thoroughly uses basically like a slave on his assignement, taking advantage of her "simple" nature.

    My question is this- By making both protagonists so rotten can i make the entire play suffer by not making them likable to the audience. Thereby not giving the audience anyone to root for?? (dont wory they get what they deserve in the end)
     
  2. Marge
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    Marge Member

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    From the way you’ve described your protagonists I don’t really find them all that ‘rotten’. Flawed, yes, but that only makes them more real. (I might view them differently if I were to actually read the script.)

    To a certain extent I do think you have to make at least one of the characters likable. Personally, if I were to read a story where I hated every single character and they all died in the end, I’d say good riddance and never read the book again—if I even finished it at all. I might just skip to the end to be sure they really did die. :D

    There’s always the possibility that your characters are likable after all, in which case it would be a really bad idea to have them die off/have something terrible happen to them in the end. Not to say that couldn’t work for some folks, but I happen to be a sucker for good endings and if I do read a book that ends badly, well, let’s just say I won’t so much as look at it again.

    If you’re intentionally creating characters that won’t be likable, yes, I think your play could suffer. If you characters are likable and something horrible happens to them in the end, it could also suffer.

    If you have a truly spectacular plot it might not matter to some that your characters are unlikable. To me it just seems unlikely.
     
  3. Baba Yaga
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    Baba Yaga Member

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    I think there needs to be the seed of likeability in both of them if they are your protagonists. Your male MC can take advantage of his assistant, but then there needs to be a scene where he helps her or shows her some kindness so we can get that even though he is flawed, he's not a total villain, he just needs to evolve. Similarly, your female MC needs to have just a shade of vulnerability so we understand she's a whole person, not just a drone. Some of my favorite characters are anti-heroes with major flaws, but deep down inside we have to believe they are inherently good, if just a little misguided.
     
  4. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    What you are talking about where the story has two "rival" protagonists, with neither of them being considered the "good guy"... it kind of reminds me of The Prestige. That movie was about the life story of two rival magicians that try to one up each other throughout the movie. If you are looking for inspiration for this type of plot, I strongly suggest watching that movie. I really think you could pull it off.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's a hollywood standard... goes back to gable/russell and beyond... google for [ movie plots "competing reporters" ] and study those to see if yours is up to scratch... the latest ones i can recall starred redford/pfeiffer and nolte/roberts...
     
  6. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    I don't agree that at least one protagonist has to be likeable. At least not in the 'I'd like them if I met them' sense (if you mean the 'fun to read about' sense, yes they need to be that, but they can be scoundrels and still fun to read about). One of my favorite series is Death Note, and personally, I'd rather not have anything to do with either Light or L (though I'd prefer L). L is a callous jerk who doesn't care about anything but catching Light, and is quite willing to sacrifice others in order to do so. Light, though his stated goal (putting an end to crime) seems good, he doesn't seem to genuinely care for any other human being whatsoever, and his actions seem just as much motivated by an egotistical desire for power as by a genuine desire to stop crime. But they're incredibly entertaining to watch, as long as I'm not personally affected by their actions.
     
  7. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I also don't think either of your protagonists need to be 'likeable' at all - make em as rotten as you like, as long as it's compelling to watch them being rotten to each other. There are so many books and movies that have used this forumla - Trading Places, for example, or The War of the Roses. And one of my favourite books of all time is Roald Dahl's The Twits, where the two main characters are absolutely vile with not one redeeming quality between them! The thing is you do still need someone to root for, an underdog or victim of their plots who eventually gets their revenge - that's how your ending where they both come a cropper will be REALLY satisfying to the reader.

    So, maybe you could make one of their interns the one who eventually gets the better of them - maybe even both of them if they decide to team up and teach their horrible bosses a lesson.

    I think that could work splendidly :)
     
  8. motormouth
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    motormouth Member

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    to add some clarity, heres a brief character explanation
    Character 1 (female) Shes not so much a B***h as shes brutally honest, moreso shed tell you thr truth no matter how harsh it is and not spare your feelings. This is seen in her investigative style.
    Early on a woman asks her how her dress looks, she says- horrible, you need to change it.

    Character 2- He'll lie and make you feel great as he knows itll get him when he wants

    Same woman ask him how her dress looks- he says wonderful and then use her to get a favour.

    The characters call out each other about their actions at sometime
    Him- Your a insentivite brute you know that.
    Her - At least im honest about it. You shamelssly flatter people just to get what you want.
    Him- So whats wrong with making people feel good
    Her- Its wrong if its a lie,

    Hope it clarifies
     
  9. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    It sounds like both of them have opposite traits that could both be seen in a good or bad light.
     
  10. iabanon
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    iabanon Member

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    Well considering the title is of a movie with both characters a conmen I don't think either character has to be likeable as such. maybe in a comedic way. read chuck palahniuk or irvine welsh. brilliant authors and none of their characters are really likeable. infact their are plenty of examples. but they do have to have something that keeps people reading. have one character that is smarter than the other, more serious, like the female and the other one a bit more off beat and maybe even a little bumbling. they have to bounce off eachother to get the most conflict.
     
  11. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    I agree about characters not needing to be likeable.

    I've read stories like that, and the things that kept me reading were 1) though I didn't like the characters, I could occasionally relate to them in some, albeit arbitrary, way, 2) the storyline was killer, and/or 3) the character(s) were so fascinating in their messed up ways that I just had to know what the hell they were going to do next. A Confederacy of Dunces by Toole comes to mind. I hated the main character -- in fact, I don't remember liking any of the characters. But they were so quirky and strange I wanted to know what made them tick. I also loved Something Blue by Giffin, about a totally vain and selfish pregnant woman and her loser boyfriend (though the woman did become a better person toward the end, I still loved reading about her as an egomaniacal twit).
     

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