1. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    does this character sound good, evil or ambiguous? can you understand her actions?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Ettina, Apr 30, 2012.

    [If you hate any story with vampires in it, stop reading now and don't bother me with your comments.]

    The setting is a medieval-era place where monsters are widely believed to exist. Travena, a young woman (around 16-20 years old, unmarried, living at home with her parents) has a secret romance with a handsome but mysterious man who claims his family disapprove of their association. She gets pregnant, and before she can tell him about the child, he disappears. Right around the birth of the child, his 'family' is found murdered and drained of blood. Talk of the town claims he was a vampire, but Travena refuses to believe this. (He actually was.)

    Anyway, she's now an unwed mother, and is being shunned as a result. Her family disowns her. Her son is the only one who cares about her and her whole life pretty much revolves around him. Despite his unusual father, he seems to be a perfectly ordinary child.

    Then he gets into an accident and almost dies. While recovering, he suddenly loses control and bites the doctor, draining his blood. Travena is shocked and horrified, but then she sees the expression on her son's face - he is horrified too. She covers up the death and flees town with him, and proceeds to help him by first covering up his kills, then eventually bringing him victims and helping him kill them.

    I know her actions aren't 'standard heroic character' actions, but does she still make sense, and can you still have sympathy for her?
     
  2. CrimsonReaper
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    CrimsonReaper Active Member

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    Women be crazy dawg. That said, similar incidents have happened in real life with mothers covering up their son's murders/rapes. The parental instinct can override common sense as well as morality. Do I approve of her actions? Oh my no. Stake the little bastard and put him out of his misery. Do I understand her actions? Yeah. Doesn't make them right. Write it.
     
  3. newport95
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    newport95 New Member

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    I like the concept very much. Very interesting. As far as your character goes, I feel a very strong sense of emotion and innocence from her in the beginning. The strong love of her son as her only focus in life also adds to this. I will admit though that the part about her bringing him victims gets shaky for me.

    That doesn't mean, however, that she cannot easily still be portrayed as you intend. I think it will be extremely vital to your story in terms of how you word this part. Much of this can be described in various ways. If you strongly portray the thoughts she has during this process and describe the internal struggles she has with murdering people, but also being torn to help her son, then you can portray that strong sense of human emotion and sympathy that I perceived her to have in the beginning. You could also portray her as becoming numb to the idea of murdering people if you are not careful (or if you want to) if you take the this act too lightly. You could even portray her to begin to enjoy the rush of helping her son.

    There are an unfathomable number of possibilities for you to explore here. I believe it will strongly rely not on the general plot outline (like you have outlined in your OP), but on the writing methods you use to portray the conflict, emotions, thoughts, and changes that occur in this character both through direct writing techniques and more subtle ones.

    One final thing I would consider if I were you is what your theme is. What are you trying to tell you audience as the primary thesis of your work? I will not make any suggestions since I believe it will be best if it comes purely from your own mind (or if you might very well have one already). I think how you portray this character will very strongly act as a vessel to both portray that theme and control the level of 'sympathy', intrigue, disgust, admiration or any other emotion that the reader has for you character.

    I hope this helps. To put things into perspective, I would like to say that I am comparatively new to writing when matched up against most people here so I would definitely get opinions from those who are much more skilled at and have more experience with writing them me. Good luck with your work! I can't wait to here more about it
     
  4. Mystique23
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    Mystique23 Member

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    Personally, I was sympathetic to her right up until "then eventually bringing him victims and helping him kill them." It is a great concept though, and CrimsonReaper is right: it strongly reflects real life, which can help balance out the more "fantastical" themes in the story. Her actions do make sense; she is rejected from society and has had a hard life, with only her son to turn to. It's natural that she would want to do all she can for him.
    Honestly, I would label her evil. But I can understand why she'd take these actions.
    Hope that helps :)
     
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I, too, had sympathy up to "eventually bringing him victims and helping him kill them," and then the sympathy was entirely gone.

    Can I understand why she does this? Well, in a mechanical way -- she does evil because she wants something. She's saving her son's life by taking the lives of other people's sons and daughters. That's not something that I can excuse.

    That doesn't mean that the story isn't worth writing - heck, I enjoyed the character of Hannibal Lector. But I definitely see her as evil.
     
  6. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not a fan of vampire stories in general. With that being said, this is the one type of plot line involving vampires that has always captivated me. I once came up with a similar story, but probably won't get around to writing.

    I have to laugh that you even suggest she could be good after describing her in such a way. I think if you want this woman to be the main character and do all the things you mentioned, you're going to have to do some extra things to make this work.

    1. She could be very stupid and her son could learn to manipulate her.
    2. She could lose her sanity and become 'warped'. Maybe she is the one convincing her son to continue feeding, and her son could wind up being the good guy.

    Either way, I think a major possibility you should consider is some sort of redemption for your MC by the end of the story. If she kills her son, that would be some powerful stuff.

    Ultimately, I'd find myself hard pressed not consider a woman who lures multiple people to their deaths akin to a serial killer, and I find such things disgusting. You could consider helping her son once, and maybe she doesn't even realize what she's doing until its too late. And then she redeems herself.

    I saw a movie once called The Wisdom of Crocodiles where Jude law was a sort of vampire. He was the MC but a bad guy but it worked.

    Somehow, the whole idea of a woman(same applies to a man) killing others to feed her own genes just seems more sickening. I'd have to analyze it but it bothers me. Maybe its because I expect parents to be more mature.

    Anyway, you're up for some heavy stuff so I strongly suggest really considering your plot line and characterizations. From your descriptions she is definitely, definitely evil.
     
  7. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Vampire novels aren't exactly my cup of tea, but mainly because of the conventions that come with them, so this particular plot interests me. I'd certainly lose sympathy towards the end but it'd still be an interesting read. I think the important thing is the progression of the mother sliding down the slippery slope. So first she tries to stop her son, and covering up a murder is a last resort to protect him when that fails. Then she gives up stopping it and just wants to prevent as much collateral damage as possible. Then maybe the story introduces a minor villain. To stop them the mother plans to have her son kill him, as her first offering. It's morbid but you can see where she's coming from. Then the offerings become lesser criminals and eventually innocents.
     
  8. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    She reminds me of the mothers who help their sons cover up murders. I would sympathise with her in the beginning, but not afterwards, unless they have some sort of ethics in who to kill, maybe that angle could work. depends on what story you want to tell :)
     
  9. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    I don't like vampires either, but the story is on good footing. That character is Renfield, a go-to guy for Dracula.

    Renfield ate bugs. Supposedly bugs to him were a life force. So a driving obsession to keep her son alive could be a reason for her actions. Hence, 'Mother Renfield' is a legitimate character, simply done before. The issue then is to make her different with good character development.

    You might name her Wilhelmena R. Rubin, with the "R" standing for Renfield. Her close friends call her 'Billie.' See if anyone gets the inside joke.
     
  10. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    OK, more negative reaction than I was hoping. Back to the drawing board.

    Well, firstly, the boy isn't a full vampire. Children born to a vampire parent are guaranteed to turn upon death, but he didn't actually die - just came very darn close - so he's actually a half-vampire, which is unheard of. Naturally, when his mother sees him drain a guy's blood, she assumes he's a vampire. But next morning he runs out into the morning sun, completely unharmed, which is impossible for vampires in this world. Plus, he shows hunger for regular food as well. So, realizing he's not quite a vampire, his mother hopes he can learn to suppress his vampire traits and be a normal boy.

    Unfortunately, when he suppresses his craving for blood, it builds until he snaps and attacks someone. So for several times in a row his mother covers up a murder, moves to a new town and tries again. Each time, he goes for around a month or two, enough to make her hope this time it might be working. Furthermore, a few times he kills without her knowing, and she thinks he's gone longer without blood than he actually has. But each time he snaps eventually and kills someone, and they move.

    Meanwhile, she's often getting treated badly or victimized by people, who stigmatize her for being an unwed mother or else see her as an easy victim. She bears this silently and tries to shield her son from it, but finally he finds out about one incident (I was thinking a rape) and he decides to kill the guy. (He's really thirsty at the time.) So he kills the guy, and his mother is horrified. But on the way to the next town, she's thinking it over and decides he had the right idea, so they decide that if anyone messes with Mom, the son is allowed to feed from them. This gradually evolves into the mother setting traps for people who've hurt her, with her son attacking them. That is, until she gets caught having been the last one seen with a victim, and she is executed.

    After this, I have a lengthy plot planned for the son, but I'm focusing on Mom here so I won't go into it in much detail. In brief, he teams up with some vampire slayers, learns to control his thirst (the key is to feed regularly in small amounts), his mentor gets turned and killed by his teammates, and the boy vows pacifism towards both humans and vampires.
     
  11. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    Ahhh, he's a daywalker. That brings with it a whole new arc, and numerous problems. Essentially, it's a Shakespearean "to suck or not to suck" conundrum. Personally I'd like to see you work up a creative profile for the 'semi-walking-undead-ish.'

    That's a good way for his kind to starve to undeath. If he's a vampire that means he has to ingest fluids from something alive, even a rat. If he's human, he'll compete for some sort of traditional substenance. My guess is that he will suffer the same fate as most perceived half-breeds. Everyone will hate him.
     
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought it about it more and the reason why I think a parent protecting their vampire offspring is more evil than the vampire itself, is that the parent is violating what I'll call 'human prerogative'.

    This relates even to the adjustment in your story. Justifiy it however you want, the mom is harboring a monster. He's not human. He EATS human. Siding with something like that for no other reason than that you gave birth to it is just sick, and almost worse than the monster itself, which was a born a monster and therefore has little choice in the matter. A woman who could stand to be around something that she gave birth to thats feeds off of living human beings is just sick.
     
  13. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Evil shmeevil. Think character motivations. Most characters believe what they are doing serves a personal or greater good.

    There's a coomercial on the radio about identity theft protection. They assert that the identity thief who opens a checking account with your information is "dedicated to ruining your life." Bull. The identity thief couldn't care less about you. He or she is trying to make his or her life more comfortable, and doesn't care that it's at someone else's expense. He or she may even rationalize that you'll recover most of your losses through insurance of government actions.

    So don't worry about labeling it.
     
  14. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    By pacifism, I mean not killing. He still bites people, but he's learnt to avoid taking too much blood.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    This makes me think that if he could accomplish this after his mother's death, why couldn't he accomplish it to avoid all those other deaths?
     
  16. The Tourist
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    The Tourist Banned

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    That could be a distinction without a difference. It would be like me claiming to be non-violent because I only punch drunken townies, not kill them.

    A bite is an attack, ask my criminal attorney. (BTW, he bites me and doesn't care how much blood he takes.)

    If anything, your daywalker seems conflicted. A non-attacking attacker. Would he consider my loving insertion of a stake of holly through his thorax as positive reenforcement to make a career move? See my point?

    If anything, your lead's conflict is actually a more interesting plot point than blood-sucking. Do you 'flesh out' you character development of him by including this element?
     
  17. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    My question is does the character think he or she is evil? I mean an evil action could be any kind of awful act but vampires do what vampires do. Suck blood among other things so I guess to me its a vampire being a vampire but evil likely unless this vampire goes into the grey moral zone somehow.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Y'know, that question makes me realize why I wouldn't enjoy knowing this character. Someone who can kill people, repeatedly, is IMO someone almost entirely lacking in empathy. And people without empathy are barely human, and not interesting.

    Now, that can be overcome if the character _embraces_ the evil. Hannibal Lector, Glory on Buffy, The Mayor on Buffy, Spike on Buffy, Callisto on Xena, they were delightful villains, and endless fun to watch. The occasional crack of humanity in an otherwise purely evil soul made them all the more fascinating.

    But a character that kinda sorta would like to be good if it were sufficiently convenient, but is evil because it's not sufficiently convenient, would be a struggle for me to tolerate.

    ChickenFreak
     
  19. TheSerpantofNar
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    TheSerpantofNar Active Member

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    I can't brag most of my characters aren't very good or nice but they have some level of humanity to them I think. Frankly the character I have been working on would be considerd bad due to his actions. Vampires are more fit for a tragedy if you ask me cause they are in fact tragic being most the time and sad this vampire sounds pretty tragic and sad.
     
  20. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    According to the D&D alignment chart I would rank her as True Neutral since her actions are purely selfish but not intended to cause evil, and she doesn't seem keen on following a rulebook.
     
  21. Kesteven
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    Kesteven Member

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    Ah, the old D&D morality chart. In my view there's a good reason for labelling almost any compelling character as True Neutral. Anything else means essentially surrendering interesting motivations for boring and largely unjustifiable ones.

    She's not being selfish at all, though! She's taking on the burden of murder in order to protect and preserve another; in a way, it's an act of love and self-sacrifice. I certainly think there's more to this than 'she kills people so she's evil', at any rate.
     
  22. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    He was going about it the wrong way. He thought (encouraged by his mother, who has little understanding of bloodlust) that he could use willpower to make himself not drink blood at all. Then when that failed, they gave up on him not killing. When a vampire slayer found him and took him in, he realized the boy had to go the opposite direction, of feeding when he was only beginning to get thirsty.

    I've seen many people get stuck in a certain mindset and think it's the only way to resolve a problem. I was a defiant child, for example. My parents figured out that if you just explained why I needed to do something, and negotiated with me when I didn't agree, I could be a well-behaved kid. But my teachers got stuck in the 'more punishment will fix this' mindset, and had a continually escalating cycle with me where they'd insist, I'd resist, and they'd punish and insist even more. I used to think they hated me, but after talking to some parents who used to be caught in similar traps with their kids, I realized they just hadn't thought outside the box. For these parents it took being told their child's behavior was due to a rare form of autism and given detailed instructions on how to manage this condition to change their mindset. The funny thing is that if you know the right way to approach a kid like me, we're actually pretty easy kids to handle. (I've handled kids like me while volunteering in activity programs for children.) But it goes completely counter to what most people expect.

    His mother is of the mindset that giving in to sinful urges makes them grow stronger, and resisting them makes them go away. She's thinking of the need for blood as being like an addiction, when in fact it's a form of hunger.

    Does that make sense?

    By the way, I'd class her as True Neutral too, because her morality is entirely focused on the best interests of the people she loves, and no one else. Kind of a form of Protagonist Centered Morality.
     
  23. Question
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    Question Active Member

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    Maybe you could have her only bring criminals or characters that the reader can justify getting their comeuppance to feed her son. That way the character is still relatable.(check out little shop of horrors lol)

    Though how can a vampire have kids if their the undead?
     
  24. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm pretty sure in DnD attacking innocent people decreases your morality points. Therefore, the actions of the MC would make her evil, probably neutral evil.

    You're right, a true neutral person is primarily concerned with their own well being, or the well being of their loved ones. But when you factor in ACTIONS, that can shift morality. Therefore, based on DnD morality, she'd almost definitely be neutral evil, not true neutral ~_~
     
  25. Gonissa
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    Gonissa Contributing Member

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    She sounds kind of evil. I definitely don't like her. It sounds like you may want the readers to sympathize with her, but quite frankly she just keeps on making so many bad decisions it's hard to muster up any positive feelings for her.

    As far as the True Neutral thing goes, it sounds sort of true. The girl doesn't set out to be evil, but ends up on a dark path because of her son. To me, there's three main outcomes of this chick. One, she continually provides victims for her son, justifying it in her mind by saying that her son deserves to live because he's the only one that loves her. Two, the process of repeatedly killing people drives the girl completely nuts. Three, she either kills or allows someone else to kill her son, knowing that her life has gone completely wrong and that killing all those people has made her a murderess.

    I echo Question's question. How does a vampire have a child? They're dead. Please, PLEASE don't pull a Twilight. Keep vampires as they naturally are, and don't fudge around with their characteristics.
     

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