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  1. Sarah's scribbles
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    Sarah's scribbles Member

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    Good heroes and good villains.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Sarah's scribbles, Jul 23, 2015.

    So in your story you always have a protagonist and an antagonist. without that you don't have much of a story. the story idea I am working on works something like this.

    the hero who was forgotten. he saved the world and everyone loved and cherished him. his divine strength, great healing, and ability to obtain power from the enemies he defeated everything that made him so special. but peace came. once the evil villain was defeated he no longer had a purpose. sure there would eventually be a new villain to fight or some tyrant to overthrow. but what was he in the mean time? Spare labor? Someone people didn't even recognize after a few years.

    so the hero comes up with a plan. he would grow a new crop of villains. secretly of course. he would raise and train a new set of villains. He would teach them everything they needed to know, work so that they could grow strong. one may even be the child of the last villain he killed or something. the day comes when he sets them out into the world. they have only ever been taught by the man and only know what he has taught them, which was everything how to be a villain.

    even though they may come from the villains and have been raised to steal and harm others without a care, the people he chose do not have it truly cut out to be a villain. they may be a nuisance, but they are no villains. no pure evil. the hero sets out to make them look like the bad guys no matter what.

    that's about what I got really. I know this is getting a little long
    so my question what makes a good villain and a good hero. the point of the story is somewhat for the hero to end up being revealed to be the villain in the end and the villains to try and stop him and succeed him as the hero even though they don't really adhere to any kind of moral code or heroes way.

    so. what do you think of when you think of a good villain. may it be Bowser or Lucifer or Voldimort. what makes the villain a good villain. There are different kinds of villains for sure and I would love to hear what everyone has to say about this. thank you.

    also. at what point does a hero cease being a hero. at what point has the hero crossed the line and can no longer be called a hero.
     
  2. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okay - this might not technically an answer, but you're not looking for the difference between an hero and a villain - you're looking for the difference between a hero and an antihero.

    A classical hero is a main character who has an upward slanting character arc - they get progressively BETTER as a person as the plot wears on and OVERCOMES their problems.

    A classical antihero is a main character who get's progressively WORSE over the course of your story and is OVERCOME BY their problems - but who you watch anyway because they're so interesting. This is your Walter White in Breaking Bad, your Great Gatsby, your Frank Underwood in House of Cards.

    There's also what lot of people CALL an antihero - which is someone who is not a good person but does heroic things that good people probably would morally object to. (Writing Excuses referred to this as "The Punisher Antihero"). The Punisher Antihero is not technically an antihero - but rather a hero with a really, really steep character arc.

    So to your question, technically a hero stops being a hero and starts being an antihero when their character arc slopes downward into oblivion and corruption instead of upward toward salvation. Where is your "hero" at the end of the story - has he overcome the problem (even if it's of his own making) or has the problem overcome him?

    Also - a "villain" is the evil character opposed to your hero - but not the main character. In "Despicable Me", Gru is a professional supervillain, but seeing as he's the main character, he functions as the hero. Anakin Skywalker is an anti-hero with a downward arc in the prequel trilogy, but a villain with an upward arc in the original trilogy (his villain status has nothing to do with his morality and everything to do with his position in the story as an antagonist - had Darth Vader been the protagonist in that story, he just would have been a hero with a super-steep upward arc.)
     
  3. Sarah's scribbles
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    Sarah's scribbles Member

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    I see... thank you for this. I am not sure as to where my story falls then. obviously my former hero would be on a downward slope and is quite ultimately the villain of this story. he is so lost in the idea that he needs to be a hero, so sure of himself that in making a villain out of these people he can be the hero again and save the day. his own determination to be the hero is what makes him the villain. it is his effort to create evil and unsuccessfully doing so that ultimately turns him into the evil itself.

    However. my other characters still leave some deciding upon. they were raised to be villains, though are not quite so evil. they were trained to use their powers for selfish reasons, to take what they want when they want. they have an understanding of how the world works that has been drastically darkened by the efforts of the hero.

    however. these characters themselves are not the villains of this story. perhaps I need to ask myself more so as to why these characters are not evil. I will think on this. thank you for your exposition.
    Another question. you can answer if you want though do not feel compelled to on my account. anyone else may answer as well.
    what makes evil evil. I have never grasped the idea of true evil. I have found it to be a plaid out notion that separates humans simply because they do not take the time to understand something. this is okay from a writing perspective I imagine because in the story you have a villain and a villain being a villain because they're the villain is nothing new. it is the leading trend of the force of nature villain.
    and to that extent what makes good good.
     
  4. HelloThere
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    HelloThere Contributing Member

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    I don't really believe in "good" and "evil" in such an absolute sense, or that anyone is wholly bad or good, and the idea changes based on culture: "Americans are evil" "Communism is evil" "Islam is evil" but I feel like I'm straying into more general philosophy here - and this a writing forum!

    With that in mind I guess people just like good characters. Sure, you can say a character acts as a particularly good villain, or a particularly good hero, but at they're still characters first and foremost. I think that's why side characters can often end up being more interesting than main characters: Harry Potter, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings... Harry, Luke, Frodo - all quite boring besides being "the hero" y'know? They all get confined by this role they are meant to fulfill as the chosen one or whatever and it ends up not really leaving much room for them to be more fleshed out and detailed characters.

    So "What makes a good character?" is the more important question, I think. :D
     
  5. Sarah's scribbles
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    Sarah's scribbles Member

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    something interesting is that those characters follow something. I forget the name, but it's two things that both count towards the same thing. the first I call blank face because I can never remember the real name. it's basically the idea that if the actors in those roles keep a simple boring face then they are more accepting to different types of audiences. a study showed that more people could relate to the lady's bathroom sign than the mona lisa.
    the other is the somewhat bland somewhat stupid main character. the idea that the main character knows nothing allows audiences to follow it more. they don't have as many lines that people remember, that's the wise old mentor or the powerful friend. could be why. but the idea that the main character can be anyone and anything only they have some secret destiny is a standpoint that allows many people to relate.
    this is simple things though. it's why those characters don't have many lines that you would remember. for harry I remember one and that's only because the movies were drilled into my head as a child. I can't name one line from the others.
     
  6. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Your story seems to involve what I've seen referred to as "hero syndrome", although some brief googling implies that it's not an accepted disorder or anything, just an observed pattern - probably most familiar as the arsonist-firefighter.

    I'd define a villain by their actions rather than their beliefs/psychology/thoughts. Specifically how they affect others in relation to themselves, whether they have a net positive or negative outcome, and for whom. This definition and how it's interpreted will vary with the perspective filter of whoever is reading, so you'll have to guess at how the majority of your audience thinks. I'd personally view all the characters you mention as villains, albeit sympathetic ones (because you're exploring the psychology behind their actions, even though the actions themselves are negative).

    I agree with what the other posters have said. In your last post, perhaps you're looking for the term "audience surrogate"? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AudienceSurrogate
     
  7. Sarah's scribbles
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    Sarah's scribbles Member

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    I understand what you mean when you say the arsonist fire fighter. I've tried to explain that type of mentality to people before it's something I'm slightly familiar with. I'll look around for more info and all. thank you.

    Something I have been thinking of for the hero to do is that after he lets loose the four villains he tried to create he will find that they are not all that villainous. that they aren't truly villains but people who have been misinformed in life. the hero decides that if they will not act then he must act for them. perhaps he slaughters a town or blows something up, some deed befitting a true villain, and then spreads word that it was them. a somewhat mandatory power for the things he does is shape shifting as he takes on different forms to be the mentors for the young villains and at the same time still has his hero persona without them just being able to say, hey he's the one who taught us everything. perhaps he could even take the form of one of them to do this thing. I am not sure. it is something I was playing around with the idea of.
    the heroes only true power is the ability to grow stronger from defeating foes and to gain powers in this manner.
     

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