1. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    Good guy turned Bad?!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by wiggons, May 28, 2009.

    I was just wondering what everyones thoughts were on having the main character, the 'good' guy turning bad, but then the story still being told from his perspective, his reasoning behind going bad, and actually trying to make the reader agree with his new perspective too............

    Could that break the story?

    hmmm.............
     
  2. Xeno
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    Xeno Mad and Bitey Contributor

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    It wouldn't break the story if you give the MC a good motivation to turn 'bad' and, if you want the readers to empathise with him you could try and make him rationalise what he does.

    There is a line between 'bad' and 'evil' and if you want your readers to agree, you need to make sure he doesn't cross that line.

    I hope this helps. :)
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's been done many times. I'm not saying, "Forget it, it's been done." I'm saying that it's not all that uncommon, so go for it.

    If you need an example, look at the story of Anakin Skywalker in Episodes I-III of Star Wars. Even though the focus is on the Jedi struggling to survive, you can see a lot from Anakin's perspective; his priorities, and how he deceived himself into surrendering to the Dark Side.

    Another good example is Paul Atreides of Dune, particularly in Dune Messiah. Throughout the saga, he battles to turn aside his ruinous destiny and prevent the jihad, but nothing he does can prevent it.
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I think it depends a little--actually a lot--on what you mean by "good" versus "bad." What makes characters come alive for me (whether they're MC's or otherwise) is not whether they're "good" or "bad," but how they perceive, misperceive, and maneuver through their own goodness and badness. I've never run across an interesting person (fictional or real) who was flawless. I think it's also usually about a reader understanding a shift in perspective, not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with it that makes a character interesting and plausible. Otherwise (either way), there's a danger you'd end up with a character who's so shallow the reader just doesn't care--either at the beginning or after the "change." Now, if you can skillfully combine those qualities somehow and draw your reader into the depths of the character's shifting psyche, that could be an interesting turn of events.

    Another thing to concern yourself with is that a first person POV that comes from a narrator who doesn't have or loses the capacity to understand himself (e.g., becomes evil, having been pure goodness and light) could be the least persuasive spokesperson for either his own "goodness" or "badness." There's a name for this problem-slash-literary device and some excellent examples where an author has handled it well (lots more among unpublished manuscripts where it simply hasn't succeeded)--it's called the unreliable narrator.
     
  5. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    Hmmmmm.......
    Interesting points guys. Thanks

    Though id like to add another point.
    What about when a character is FORCED to become 'evil' and i dont mean they 'give in' but rather there is something inside them that MAKES them become evil?
    Thoughts anyone?
     
  6. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    What about when a character is FORCED to become 'evil' and i dont mean they 'give in' but rather there is something inside them that MAKES them become evil? -wiggons

    Hm, how do you mean forced? Unless we're talking something like demonic possession, I don't think anyone can be forced to be evil. It's always a choice; it may be an understandable and sympathetic choice under extenuating circumstances, but it's still always a choice. It would be difficult for me as a reader to understand the concept.
     
  7. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    I don't really understand the "forced to become evil" either, unless it's some kind of mind/body control or that he somehow doesn't know he's acting evil. Otherwise, there's always a choice.

    In the case of my novel I have two sympathetic characters both under heavy, mind-altering influence to become evil, or at least antagonistic. One is the king, and the other is the love interest of the protagonist. Hoping it will make for some interesting reading.
     
  8. Atma
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    Atma Member

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    Forced to become evil like Richard was "trained" by the Mord Sith in Sword of Truth? If so, then I understand it, and I think its cool. Especially if he can have the inner strength to fight against it in the end (i dont think it's overused at all:p Like vampires, it never gets old lol)
     
  9. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Anakin is the true main character of the Star Wars movies. Those films were entirely about his rise to glory, his fall to darkness, and his redemption. Obviously, turning the main character of Star Wars to evil did not break the story.

    Of course you can make the reader understand the fallen main character's perspectives. The character understands his/her motivations, so why shouldn't we be able to? If you're really good, you can make the fall to evil subtle, keep the reader from realizing the character's gone bad until it's after it's already happened. That, I think, would increase the realism tenfold, especially if the story is told entirely from that character's perspective. After all, bad guys don't usually realize that they're bad.
     
  10. Idiot
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    Idiot New Member

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    I did it once, I had a good husband turn to prostitutes. I did it from his perspective.
     
  11. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Everyone has good and evil in them. There is always a choice, but people like Anakin, who start out innocent kids, don't realize what choices are out there, and/or they are being influenced by people who are much stronger than they. Anakin was becoming increasingly frustrated with how he was being treated by the Jedi council. He didn't get help with his need for greater power. Palpatine offered him that power and convinced him that the other Jedi were his enemies, succeeded because Anakin was so frustrated and wanted that power. His desperate need to save Padme pushed him over the edge and he lost any independent control he had over himself and his emotions.
     
  12. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    I'd read up on mental illness--multiple personalities, certain manifestations of paranoia, and that kind of thing, which can "make" the Jeffrey Dahmers and Hitlers of the world do unspeakable things. But "Evil," I think of in one of three ways: (1) in the eye of the beholder of an unexplained (though not unexplainable) behavior that, either way, still has horrible consequences; (2) the outcome of some extra-worldly or religion-related influence (that not every reader, in real life, believes in--i.e., a fantasy or parable or religion-based story of some kind); or (3) a philosophical construct related to the (ideal rather than reality-based) opposite of pure goodness--more a concept than a reality.

    Why don't you just write it? Then you can show us what your take actually is.
     
  13. wiggons
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    wiggons Member

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    Hmmmm thanks everyone.

    What i meant with being 'forced' to become evil is what im debating with the story im doing right now. A pivotal character has to do something that will save his life and give him the ability to save someone elses life, but at the cost of going 'mad' ,so to speak. I'm stil debating it, but it does make sense in the context of the story......i hope.

    Thanks everyone. Youve given me some stuff to think on
     
  14. AngeloBraxton
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    AngeloBraxton Member

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    It depends on the story. He'd have to have a good reason to go "bad." If he just goes bad because he feels like it, the story would suck. It really depends on who your character is and what they're like.
     
  15. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    You have to keep in mind one very important type of character that you may or may not have forgotten about: the anti-hero.


    Not quite evil, but not a noble fella by any means. If he, for instance, lets some awful tragedy happen, but still has a greater goal in mind, something that will ultimately do more good than harm, then he is an anti-hero. I think abruptly switching your MC from hero to villain is not a very good idea, unless it is done the way Lucas did it from Ep. 1 through Ep. 3.
     
  16. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    I never think changing the MC is a bad idea, how ever, if it's FROM his POV i would be interested in how he perceives it all. Does he- for example- punch an old lady (yup defiantly a bad guy) and think "Dear god what have I done?" or does he punch the old lady and give no second thought to it or even think "she deserved that, the parasite."- showing to us the reader that clearly he's bad but he himself doesn't know it?
     
  17. Diviance
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    Diviance Member

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    Self sacrifice is not evil, even if the MC becomes evil after the sacrifice he could still hang on to that one thing.
    It's like when bruce banner goes green. When he is the Hulk he is a purely destructive force. But when the Hulk see's Betty (Bruce's love interest) he often calms down and protects her. That may be a bad example however it illustrates a madman (you dont like it when he get's mad:) ) that still has something left in him that makes him human. And be honest here who doesnt love the Hulk?!
     
  18. topper
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    topper Member

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    Or, more likely, the character is reasoning every 'evil' decision made. Do it skillfully enough and the reader may just agree with you, seeing it as a necessary evil. I've seen it work best when it's a slow transformation, with multiple things pressuring them into their evil decisions over time. A sudden transformation is not very believable.
     
  19. MelissaLynne
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    MelissaLynne Member

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    I think it depends on how bad you make the character and how believable you make it. There has to be a good reason as to why this person decided to make evil choices in the first place. As long as the story flows, and its not all over the place then it will be great! I don't think you should follow the Star Wars example at all though. I like Star Wars, but I didn't like the Anakin transistion at all. I personally felt that the transformation was forced and like Topper said sudden transformations are not believeable.
     
  20. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anikin's transformation was not as sudden as it looks. The pieces were all there. And in the second movie, they do show that he has it in him to kill like that when he's angry enough.
     
  21. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    I have a feeling the true evil one was the wife lol. Or perhaps it's just my imagination? Good idea you have there.
     

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