1. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Do men value young girls and protect them from dangers?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Codex, Apr 14, 2013.

    I've recently decided to create a new novel where its setting is centuries after the nuclear war had end and Humanity has been dwelling in fallout bunkers half the size of a city. After that few centuries, radiation has died out quite a bit and they started bring dominance into the world once again shortly after water and food have been eaten. Only difference is that it brings a whole level of survival to Humanity as they explore new things: no food, no crops, no clean water and there are creatures out there with deadly mutations.

    My story is quite simple, It will be based on two survivors of this brave, new world a few decades after settlements has been drawn onto the land. The two characters is ruthless man going on by the name of "Martin" who will do almost anything to take on daily threats to his survival, further along the story (maybe around the end of chapter I or the middle of chapter II) he meets a young teenage girl struggling to fight for her life across the decayed land. (Of course, I'll obviously reveal her story of how she came to be)

    But that what hits me, why would a man such as Martin will accept safeguarding her with his life? When he, himself is ruthless, selfish and partially just 'bad'?!
    Do men still feel the need to protect a child from dangers, and also love them with dearest hearts?

    Thank you, for reading my small issue. Hopefully, you'll offer a quick and swift solution to this.
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Maybe he lost his own daughter in the nuclear explosion and this girl brings back cherished memories
     
  3. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Yes, but this man is far too ruthless to even have a heart. He kills with no mercy, and not to mention he's a cannibalism since there's no good meat out there. Also, It's hundreds of years after the nuclear explosion just to correct your understanding but thanks for the help, you know... for sticking a thought into my mind that could be forged into an idea on how to a certain ruthless character can connect to this girl.
     
  4. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    ok so hundreds of years after the explosion, he's a ruthless cannibal with no emotion or thought for anyone - then he's just gona have a whole load of fun and eat her isn't he - unless she has something he wants or o belongs tsomeone he wants to get to to know better.

    Does she have the keys to the castle?
    Is she the Princess?
    Will someone pay a ransom for her?
    Does she have the power to instantly hypnotize him?
     
  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This is one of those problems you need to work out for yourself. No one can do the creative heavy lifting for you.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    "Do men value young girls and protect them from dangers?"

    It's not a realistic question as posed. You've described a man who has none of the values one would expect even given your survival scenario. Then you ask if we think he could have normal value X.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe she saves his life when they first meet, and, in spite of all his badness, he feels he owes her a debt.
     
  8. gwilson
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    gwilson Member

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    Anyone is capable of anything. Play with the reader, make the reader think the bad man is just waiting for the right time to kill/eat the girl, and when he doesn't it will be a big sur-prise. You don't have to explain everything.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Duplicate post.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that she needs to have some sort of practical value for him--given your description of his character, I don't see him protecting her otherwise.

    My first thought is that she has a skill that he badly needs, that is time-consuming to acquire. For example:

    - Maybe she can read and he can't, and he needs to research something.

    - Maybe she can read a map and he can't, and he's trying to get somewhere.

    - Maybe she knows a language that he doesn't, and that he needs for some reason.

    - Maybe she has a truffle-sniffing dog and he loves truffles. (OK, that's silly, but she might be the only one that can manage the horse that he uses for transportation, keep the engine of his car running, whatever.)

    - Maybe the other inhabitants of the area where they are (are there other inhabitants?) _are_ sentimental about children, so he can get things from them that he can't get alone. (I find myself thinking of _Paper Moon_, not that I remember anything but the skimpiest plot summary.)

    - Maybe she needs him to do something for her and can offer him some reward, one that for some reason he can't simply steal from her.
     
  11. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    A little advice from the readers' side, rather than as a writer. If I were to read that story the way you present it, I'd put the book down by the end of the second chapter. You want to present a man with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. How will the reader invest in him? How will they allow themselves to go through what he goes through, to feel what he feels? In short, why does the reader want to connect to him?

    The "Older man as protector" is a common trope, and can be well done. Do it right, and it opens up all types of character development in him. Maybe he really isn't as hard as he projects himself to be. Maybe he has learned to be that way, but isn't that way by nature and she draws it out of him. Maybe he has to become even harder to keep her safe, and in doing so depends on her to keep his humanity intact.

    In short, if you present a flat character and keep him flat, nobody is going to care about him.

    Now, if he's actually a bad guy that the protagonist is dealing with, and you're working purely from the protagonist's point of view, then there is more leeway and he doesn't have to be developed as much.

    But from what you've put down so far, I'd be leery about reading it, to be honest. Hope that helps and sorry if it sounds blunt.
     
  12. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    Watch:
    - Man On Fire
    - Leon: The Professional
    - The Man From Nowhere
    - Taken

    Very similar films about a man who is or has been a ruthless killer, being compelled to protect a younger girl. Usually these men are tormented and cold, latching onto the last bit of humanity they have left. The girls are symbols of purpose, meaning, innocence and these men will fight to their death to protect them from the harshness of the world. Perhaps to feel human again.
     
  13. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    This is a difficult question because the rules change in such situations. The vast majority of people would sooner cast their morals to the wind than die for them. I would imagine in a situation like that with such a hardened person she would either have to be of some usefulness or have some quality he admires or identifies with. There isn't room for sentiment in a world like that. I'd be more apt to believe he'd rescue her if she served some purpose. Forming a team or joining up with a partner can be useful for reconnaissance missions, gathering supplies, or even just protection. I would suggest thinking more about the logistics of surviving in a post apocalyptic world.
     
  14. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Maybe he doesn't care for her right away, but rather she sticks with him and follows him around until he slowly starts to. Like telling her "you are on your own, i won't protect you", but when in danger he unexpectedly does.
    Reading the title of your thread my mind went in a completely different direction initially.
     
  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    ^I think this was very well put. In any case, the male protag has to have some "human" in him. Even Dexter Morgan is relatable.

    T.Trian and I wrote a similar story, though set in the medieval times, in which a hardened soldier of fortune in his 30s spots a sad, pretty 14-15yo girl in a tavern, ends up talking and getting drunk with her, and eventually helps her in her quest to find her mother. But it's established that he has a soft spot for ladies, and also, when he was 14, he fell madly in love with a 13 yo girl whom he still loves though he has no idea where she is, so he's inclined to relate to this girl too (we know the ages, but of course she's isn't called a teen in the story. And he won't get funky with the 14yo either even though back in the Middle Ages that was probably far more normal than nowadays). Other people join the quest too, but "the first contact" is between the gruff guy and the pretty little girl. Maybe you could weave some backstory there, as others have suggested, to make it more believable that the guy and the girl team up?
     
  16. The Codex
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    The Codex Member

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    Ahhh... thank you folks. I have been thinking alot about this recently and for most of you are right. He won't just randomly come upon a girl and save her since It'll make his surviving methods more difficult, rather he'll just ignore her or eat her (hunger can do that to you). He lived a petty life, from instantly being in a bandit band which they kill and eat people as well, strip small settlements, and well... rape women. He came from a sick and vile group who stick together to do anything to survive and to satisfy their needs. Of course, I'll do a backstory on that, maybe how at one point he strongly disagrees with what they were doing at one time and killed them all.

    Anyway, I thinking there should be a government should be formed over those decades when Humanity is scattering across the decayed land, they are as same as the survivors; They are ruthless, evil and oddly efficent in their scientific studies of goals yet nobel-Find ways to clean the world, bring back nature, breed clean animals which we can eat. Somehow, I'm gonna have to make this girl important to them, maybe she was kidnapped and was performed experiments on her. The bounty on her is strangely high for one girl, and Martin scout all over to find her (in which he did) as the reward is salvation to all survivors. The reward will be (as heard from all bounty hunters) that you will own a property, safe from mutants, people and the outside life and It's fixed with supplies of food and clean water.
    WHat I'm hoping to see, is that this emotive journey will make Martin feel for girl. A love for one another he never felt and then at the end he'll make the choice; Give the girl to the New government or basically keep her as his own as his love for her is too strong. A difficult choice, but which is better? Salvation or Love?

    Also, sorry if the story is mis-understood. I pictured a normal survivor when I created this topic but then quickly reside him to be emotionless and have no care on petty life and somehow value this girl would pretty make a interesting story (I hope).
     
  17. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    The basic premise reminds me a bit about the Fallout games (post-apocalyptic world, people scattered here and there, underground vaults where survivors lived, mutants, etc). The cannibalism-part is a nice twist.

    As odd as it sounds, the biological clock doesn't tick just for women. I believe it's a bit different for men, but it's there (for some anyway). Suddenly they realize the notion of caring for someone, providing for someone isn't quite as alien a thought as it used to be. Suddenly you aren't the most important thing anymore. I've noticed similar feelings in myself in the recent year or so: I used to think I'd never warm up to the thought of having kids, but now I find the notion of providing and caring for, say, a little girl, actually feels very natural. Like something I'm supposed to do (not because society dictates so, but because some odd thing inside me tells me it's what I was made for). It's almost like some fantasy story: the hero is training, strengthening himself, improving his skills, and suddenly the skies part, and God comes down and gives him a quest; "do this." Lo and behold, the hero has a purpose in life now.

    So this character, Martin, could very well believe himself to be above all this tomfoolery, but when he's travelling with the girl, his bounty, he starts to notice these weird, illogical changes in how he feels about her. E.g. they end up under attack and while previously his first priority would have been ensuring his own safety, now he finds himself taking a bullet for the girl, surprising even himself. I know I've been surprised by these odd, new feelings and emotions that apparently used to lay dormant up until now.

    Or you could do something else entirely and still remain in the sphere of plausible character development.
     
  18. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    Joseph Goebbels was by all accounts a devoted family father of six.
     
  19. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure if he was a cannibal though...
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Aaaand we see another instance of Godwin's Law.
     
  21. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    By "keep her as his own" are we talking about him adopting her as a daughter? If he's going to marry her, I think that your story is going to have to extend long enough for her to age into a clear adult age before that happens, and you're going to have to find a way for her to grow fond of him, not just the reverse. (I realize that, yes, all sorts of morally ambiguous things can happen in a novel, but it sounds like you want your ending to be pretty unambiguous.)
     
  22. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    :( this is like an episode of QI where contestants are tricked into a dodgy answer and alarms and sirens are set off around the studio!

    QI fans will know :)
     
  23. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    And Stalin would cut out pictures of children from magazines and paste then into idealistic pastoral scenes of happiness and peace... :D


    *very few realize that it was he, Stalin, who invented the smiley face.


    ;-P
     
  24. Sved
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    Sved Senior Member

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    I don't think he was, but he strikes me as both ruthless and merciless.

    Albert Fish fish on the other hand also fathered six children who seemed to have lived their early childhood pretty normal.

    Anyway, my point most of the monsters we know of did at some point have someone they cared about - maybe even loved.
     
  25. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Look further into it however, and you wouldn't be able to say that their families were what you could say was, close or loving.


    *And Jack Reacher would kick the living stinky out of Tom Cruz.
     

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