?

Can you write an interesting story with no bad guys?

Poll closed Apr 8, 2016.
  1. yes

    83.3%
  2. no

    16.7%
  1. starbright
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    starbright New Member

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    Every time I write in a bad guy its a bit cliche...but what can I do?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by starbright, Mar 8, 2016.

    Yeah,

    Every time I write about a bad guy its like it has all been done before...how can a bad guy be different from all the other bad guys?

    No bad guys in the start of my book - was going to add a human version of the brain from pinky and the brain but decided not to in the end!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2016
  2. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    It really depends on what kind of stuff you are writing. In some genres it really doesn't matter if the villain is something unique and interesting or not. Sure, it's better if he is but if he's just there to kick off the plot and get the heros killing people then it's ok to just make him a mad genius who wants to take over the world. The interesting part of the book is how they answer that threat, not what the threat really is. That doesn't mean write pure schlock but it does mean you can come up with something that fits the setting and the plot and the tone and just be happy with that. If the bad guy is just a bullseye for the hero to eventually shoot then don't worry about writing Hannibal Lector.

    On the flip side; if you're book is more complex and the villains character is very important to what's happening (say if you are writing a serial killer or spy thriller) then that's a bit more difficult. There have been quite a lot of villains over the years [citation needed] and amazing writers have created amazing villains. If your villain isn't quite satisfying then there's a few ways you can look to develop them:

    Firstly; start writing some stuff with them as the protagonist. Write a scene where they carry out some bad stuff and react to it. Are the excited? Shell shocked? Do they feel smug self satisfaction or steely resolve to see things through? Do they celebrate or do they need to forget what they did? All of this stuff will help you see how the villain see's himself and answer what he's getting out of being bad. From his point of view he's doing the right thing so write out how he justifies himself to someone in his crew who is maybe wavering. Maybe he just kills that guy, maybe he passionately explains why they must rule the world. Just sit and write and see where it takes you. As you do I guarantee you'll find something that gets your juices flowing. Even if his plans and ideals are something you've seen elsewhere as you flesh him out in a genuine, sympathetic way (remember; he doesn't see himself as a monster) then you'll understand him better and that will make him feel like a unique person.

    Secondly; ask yourself what is making your guy feel like a cliche and just change it. Too grandiose? Make him quiet. Too over confident? Make him detail obsessed and paranoid. Just take the thing that you feel has been done before and change it around. Nothing else, just that one thing and see what it does to the character. For a guy like Brain; make him unwilling to believe his plan worked, make him believe that his opponent is smarter than him and sweating every move until he's paralyzed by indecision. This doesn't lead to the best written character in the world but it will make him weird and different with internal contradictions.

    In my work I was having some problems with my big villain; he was this retired high ranking civil servant deciding he knows best how to run the nation. He wasn't a cliche but he wasn't interesting; wasn't someone that I felt you'd believe would order someone's murder because he's just this nice, grandad type guy who just thinks he knows better. So I mulled for a bit and thought about his downfall; his daughter is befriended by the heroes and she hands over the evidence they need. And I thought on and eventually I came to the idea that his 'daughter' maybe isn't; that she's an underage prostitute who he solicited and later 'adopted' (bed, board and an expensive education in return for her ongoing service) and everything we've seen of him before that is a complete sham. He's this repressed, self-hating fascist with a taste for little girls who rants about having pedophiles strung up. It's maybe not the greatest example but I hope you can see what I'm talking about; adding that sense of hypocrisy and inadequacy to him turns him from being yet another scheming politician and into someone who's just... Horrible in lots of ways. The argument he makes in the book (that democracy has failed and we need strong, principled leaders who can make the unpopular decisions) is supposed to be something persuasive right up until we see the kind of person who thinks they and they alone can make those decisions.

    Internal conflict and hypocrisy livens up every character.
     
  3. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    If your good guys aren't cliche write your bad guys as if they are good guys but they just do bad things.
     
  4. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    I think you might have been onto something there. The Brain could be considered a villain, but he's not exactly "evil" in the same sense as Snowball, and he has a lot of protagonist qualities. If your protagonists work out fine, adapting some of their qualities into your antagonists could work wonders. Think about what would put your protagonists and antagonists at odds with each other, and what would balance their traits such that each can believably pose a threat to the other.
     
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  5. Jeni
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    Jeni Member

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    If your villain is a social outcast, maybe consider making him suave and well liked by everyone including the heroes. Perhaps he could have alternate lives of social obscurity during the day and socialite type behavior at night and on weekends etc.
     
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  6. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    That's exactly the kind of thing i'm talking about. Just giving someone a more conflicted nature will make them vastly more interesting. Just hinting that maybe they aren't always like that will broaden their character vastly.
     
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  7. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    An antagonist should merely be a hero from the wrong perspective.
     
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  8. Sileas
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    Sileas Member

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    /grabs popcorn
    /races for front seat

    ---signed, The Person Who Sucketh Mightily At Writing Baddies. And Voted Yes, You Can Have A Good Story With No Moustache-Twirling Evil Person.
     
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  9. Ryan Elder
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    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

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    In your story, do you write
    In your story, do you come up with the hero or villain first? Do you have the basic premise yet?
     
  10. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Write the antagonist as a person. A person who happens to be on some level morally questionable. Whether they're a well-intentioned extremist or a selfish type, they will have a diversity of trait beyond obvious functional ones. Think about your own personality and how many traits you have. Likes, dislikes, how emotional you are, how organised, your relationship with your family, interests of yours, so on.
     
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  11. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't go that far, but the villain should definitely think that s/he is the hero of their own story.
     
  12. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    The perspective doesn't have to be nice, or even sane by the way.
     
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  13. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Argh. I can't delete this after I changed my mind. :supermad::supermad::supermad:
     
  14. Indarican
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    Indarican Member

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    if you feel like aspects of your villain is cliche, why don't you try to go completely against the grain with him/her. For example if you want to have him more of a lone wolf type of person instead of having him grow up alone with no siblings have him grow up with many siblings but have some sort of disability or illness that might separate him from his peers,or instead of making him huge and menacing make him small and sheepish looking. Things that would normally go to the hero or victim but give it more of a sadistic edge to it. That is of course if it fits with your story.

    In my opinion I feel like every character is in one way or another cliche its the little details about the character that shape them and make them different from anything that I have ever read.
     
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  15. BoddaGetta
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    BoddaGetta Active Member

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    When I have issues writing a character or knowing how they tick [protagonist or antagonist or secondary/tertiary character], I'll often write a scene or two from their POV--either one of the scenes I've done already from the protagonist's view, a "deleted scene" of sorts, or something completely unrelated to the plot, like how he reacts to the server getting his order wrong at a restaurant.

    Doesn't have to be part of your final story, but often a few hundred words from inside the character's head can help you develop them better than a tick list or outline could.

    Your poll question doesn't really relate as much to your topic question, but in answering to that, yes, there are plenty of works that don't have a "bad guy." And they're quite good too.

    Every one of your characters are people, not archetypes. Think of it that way.
     
  16. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    You don't need a "bad guy" as long as you can generate conflict anyway. As long as there is drama of some sort.
     

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