1. Enerzeal
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    Enerzeal Member

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    Evil Lead Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Enerzeal, Apr 6, 2011.

    Hello everyone! My first post on these forums, hadn't thought to look for a writer's forum until a week ago and found this gold mine! Been reading plenty of stories and posts and really enjoying my self.

    Always had a desire to write a book, a Fantasy Novel at that. George RR Martin really put me onto the genre, and now I've got about 200 Fantasy/horro/sci-fi books.

    What I wanted to ask is..

    Is there a niche, in a fantasy novel, to have a lead, a main character who is of an evil disposition. When I say main character I mean Rand Al'Thor, or Frodo Bagins. Perhaps even a situation if written well enough, to cheer for this characters evil ways.

    Is it something people would read? I my self would love to follow such an angle. Some of my favourite characters have been the evil ones, never though have they been the central character.

    Also does anyone know of any books where this is the case? Any genre, I was once told best way to expand your own writing abilities is to read everything you can get your hands on, so any suggestions would be fantastic.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    There are many different kinds of evil. Some kinds can make a great protagonist, some can not. A thief or a murderer (Dexter) can be sympathetic, but very few will support a villain that rapes. It depends on whether or not you make your character likable, and how evil he really is.

    So I do believe that as long as the character isn't insanely evil, people could be interested in reading about an evil protagonist/main character. People do, after all, love evil:rolleyes: EvilIsCool
     
  3. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    If your main character is sympathetic and does cool stuff, it doesn't matter if he's evil or not.

    Make sure his goals are something that the audience can relate to--if his methods are shady but he has good intentions (or at least convinces himself that he does) it'll be easy to make him a central character.

    Also, it would help if your good guy antagonists that opposed your protagonist were either extremist types, seriously flawed, or just outright jerks. That way the audience will cheer with the villain when he outwits them and wail when they ruin his plans.

    Don't be confused with common fantasy plots. The good guys don't need to win. Don't be afraid to let your main character triumph, even if he's not the standard protagonist.
     
  4. HBAdams
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    HBAdams Member

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    If you haven't already come across them, there are a couple books by Gregory Maguire that are told from the villain's perspective, and you've probably heard of them! Wicked is told from the PoV of the Wicked Witch of the West, and Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is told from the PoV of one of Cinderella's step-sisters.

    The cool thing about his storytelling is that even though you go into the novels with the presumption that the main characters are evil, it shows that motives and being the good guy or the bad guy is all just a matter of perspective.
     
  5. Rhysirl
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    Rhysirl Member

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    I would! Some of my favorite characters are bad guys. Going the whole "sympathizing with the bad guy" route is usually the best way to get people to like the bad guy for sure, but it might be fun to find a way to find a different way. It's like (I know....) Beauty and the Beast vs. Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. I love Gaston because he's a total ass, but everyone loves Dr. Horrible because the "good guy" Captain Hammer is an ass.
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I don't like to read them but I would suggest Perfume - not exactly evil but Vanity Fair (Becky Sharp f) and Mayor of Casterbridge aren't really pleasant main characters.
     
  7. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    When the protagonists are bad guys, they're called Antiheroes. It has been done so many times that there is a special name for them. So, go for it. :)
     
  8. Cretin07
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    Cretin07 New Member

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    I was playing with that concept a few weeks ago for a class assignment, and I came to the conclusion that if you can develop a character that can justify his actions, thoughts, or behavior then it’s a viable story regardless of what is actually happening from a neutral lens. My understanding of writing is that it’s all about us having something to say, and if that's what you love then you should go for it regardless of how you think other people may perceive it… i.e. unless you are trying to get published or sold in a specific market, then you might have to play around with the paradigm of the story to suck up to them :)

    In the story that I worked on, I created a character who does everything that can be conceived as evil or wrong – genocide, torture, senseless killing, etc… - from a normal human perspective, yet when I allowed my character an opportunity to tell the world why he was doing or where he was coming from, it somehow made sense for him to do so, without changing in any way the fundamentals.
     
  9. Vacuum Eater
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    Vacuum Eater Senior Member

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    Isn't it odd how people are more likely to excuse or sympathize with a murderer than a rapist? Especially considering that murder entails more permanent, irreversible damage than rape. I also find it interesting how a lot of people will react more adversely to villains who abuse animals than to villains who abuse people. Human psychology can be a fascinating thing . . .
     
  10. K.S.A.
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    K.S.A. Member

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    All Hail Hekat - Female evil lead in Karen Miller's Godspeaker. Never has a character given me such chills! I've come a long way since I read those books (literally 3 years) but I will always remember her.
     
  11. Bay K.
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    Bay K. Contributing Member

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    -- 'The Hulk'. He has no control over his behavior and is compelled (by some anger gene in him) to smash, destroy and maim. But I think many people are his fans.
    This is an example of 'an evil' MC --one who has no control over his 'evil' nature.
    -- I'm working on a poem titled "Good Hitler", where the MC could either believe that his delusions and mad plans are good for the world (and everyone else clearly sees they aren't), or, his visions for a better world are actually good, but he goes about achieving them the wrong ways.
    Either way, one can kind of ... sympathize or even appreciate this twisted character, hoping that he, one day, sees the light, which of course he never will.
    Let everyone else see the evil in the MC except he/she.
    If the MC knows of, acknowledges, revels in and promotes the evil in him/her, then he/she already has a name --'the freaking devil'. And I think, morally, most people would find it difficult rooting for him/her.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    But it can be done -- Stephen Donaldson managed it, and Thomas Covenant wasn't even a villain.
     
  13. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Have you read the Sword of Truth series? The author portrays him as the hero of the series, but he does some very questionable things, especially later in the series. If any character in other stories done as he did, they would be considered a villain.

    The Conan the Cimmerican novels by Robert E. Howard and Robert Jordan are good. This Conan is differnt from the movie version. This one is out for himself. He isn't really a good guy, but he does have an admirable sense of honor.
     
  14. The Soul Man
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    The Soul Man Member

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    There's not much new about the antihero position. A much more interesting process is to dissolve the line between good and evil, something we see a lot in reality as nothing is truly black and white but not quite enough in fiction.
     

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