1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Does this seem too cruel?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Sep 2, 2015.

    Hit a snag with my fantasy today. Basically, my main character, Mishu Jerni, had just saved two people (a priestess and her friend) from an assassin who attacked the orphanage she grew up in. In doing so, she revealed her secret as a member of the kingdom's secret enforcement group, a group that had once been the ruin of the priestess's reputation and social standing, had caused one of her loved ones to commit suicide out of shame. As punishment, that priestess kicks her out of the orphanage. Despite protests from the friend, and a few of Mishu's own friends, the priestess stands firm: Mishu is to leave the orphanage.

    The reason I had this scene here was to have Mishu learn that keeping secrets, even for good intentions, can lead to disastrous consequences. In this instance, it wounded up causing her to have to expose her secret to the two people she cared about the most defending them from the assassin she's trying to stop. The priestess in question loved Mishu, never would have thought she'd go off to join the group that basically destroyed her life. To her, this is an act of betrayal what Mishu did. Mishu basically just flipped off the Goddess, her Tenants, everything that the priestess had ever stood for. Mishu basically just flipped off the people who were willing to take her in and raise her.

    Thing is, wouldn't it make the priestess a bit of a horrible person for kicking Mishu out? She's basically taking her vindictive anger for the legal system she so despises out on an innocent girl. That she would've known since the girl was an infant. I did rationalize it to be that she was trying to think what was best for the orphanage, not Mishu. If the assassin were after Mishu, then Mishu being gone would make sure the others within weren't in danger. The assassin would go after Mishu and leave them alone. He would not put the other children in danger.

    I think what I'm trying to show here is that the priestess has good reasons for kicking Mishu out of the orphanage, I'm just worried this would make her look too cruel. Especially since Mishu just got done saving the asses of her and her friend from an assassin.
     
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2015
  2. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Before I read up to the point I've quoted, my first thought was, 'Wow, that says a bit about what type of person the priestess is - emotional, capricious, self-centred, etc' - but once you brought up the orphanage, I did a complete 180. So I think it's all about context and how you portray the priestess' character.

    I think if you show that the priestess' decision hinges on logic, looking out for the kids, and considering the 'greater good' irrespective of her personal feelings towards Mishu, she'll remain sympathetic. Of course, on the inside she's presumably torn up by the 'betrayal'. I think you should explore this if the priestess is an important character. But IMO the decision in itself, if based around a duty of care to the orphanage, will not make her seem cruel.
     
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  3. No-Name Slob
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    No-Name Slob Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think that's too cruel at all. It sounds realistic You have someone looking after an entire home of children. She can't put them at risk for the sake of one whose alliances prove (since two assassins were already there, there's proof of this) a threat.
     
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  4. Akarevaar
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    Akarevaar Member

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    I agree with what's already been said. A lot of it is in context, and in you explains the priestesses reasons and motivations. Perhaps, you could ever have the priestess offer some kind of assistance to Mishu at a later point in the book to show that, even though she had to expel her form the orphanage, she still wants to help Mishu.
     
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  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    That's what I was suspecting. It's a bit of both: her vindictive grudge against the legal group and her desire to keep the children safe from any more harm. She wants what's best for Mishu but she also has to deal with the emotional impact of one of her own charges working with what she perceives as 'the bad guys' as well as the logical 'I need to protect the children.'

    Just out of curiosity, what made you think she was self-centered before you read that she was actually looking after the well-being of the entire orphanage? Stupid question, I know, but I was just curious.

    That was my gut reaction for her as well. As much as she personally cares for Mishu, she's not about to put the entire orphanage at risk for the sake of one girl she's known since the girl was an infant. Mishu is clearly capable enough to care for herself if she can basically fight off an assassin without too much trouble.

    I was just a bit concerned that since it was going to be from Mishu's perspective (she's 14 and a bit of an unreliable narrator), the priestess would come off as too cruel as Mishu wanted to be both the enforcer of the kingdom's law and stay within the orphanage. Granted, Mishu did know the inherent risk and accepted it (kind of), she just never expected it to happen so fast and so soon.

    Excellent point, I hadn't considered that. It might help add some character growth for the priestess who, despite doing her duty and her personal hatred for the legal group, still wants Mishu to stop the villain and will help her in any way she can.

    Thanks everyone, you've made me feel better about having the priestess kicking Mishu out. :) One last question, would the assassin be smart enough to not go attack the orphanage the second time thinking Mishu was still in there? He wouldn't know that Mishu had been expelled.
     
  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Before I knew about the orphanage situation, the basics went 'Mishu saves Priestess --> Mishu's secret is revealed --> Priestess is upset --> Priestess immediately kicks Mishu out, despite having just been saved by her.' At that level of detail, it seems a bit ungrateful/self-righteous/quick-tempered, no? I figured there would be more to it than that, but in the absence of further explanation, that was my impression.

    I like @Akarevaar 's suggestion of the priestess helping later, if that's consistent with her characterisation. I expect you've already got plans, but I'd be disappointed if the Mishu-Priestess subplot (?) had no resolution beyond the exiling (assuming the priestess is an important character, not just a plot device).

    I'd also not realised Mishu was only 14 and still a resident of the orphanage (for some reason I'd thought she was adult and just barred from visiting rather than kicked out of home!). This doesn't really change my opinion, but probably reinforces how careful you'd need to be with the priestess' 'caring for the group over the individual' mindset, if she's to stay sympathetic.
     
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  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Priests are a law unto themselves, so I don't think you need to worry too much unless her niceness is part of the ongoing plot. As suggested, you can remedy the situation later if that is important.

    Also, I think you mean tenets, not tenants.
     

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