1. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Good idea to have an unbeatable character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by DeathandGrim, Sep 1, 2013.

    My character Nicholas Blade, is among the Batman archetype. He's a walking powerhouse that's equipped for damn near every situation. This is due to him being a professional criminal for 11 years, he's learned every trick of the trade and has "seen it all."

    The way I develop this character is rather than dramatically evolving him through trials and tribulation, I change the world around him. Showing his feeling and evolution through events that happen to the characters he either cares about or he has conflict with, but when it comes to events to happen to him he's often indifferent and pulls through without difficulty.

    He's the only character that I develop this way and I've recently looked at him harder and harder and it seems like he's the hardest to crack open for the reader.
     
  2. odolmen
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    odolmen Member

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    The thing with the Batman is that he hasn't seen it all. Bruce Wayne keeps being challenged by both his inner darkness and the evil he sees in the world, but uses a mask to hide his weaknesses. Not anihilate them. That's how he becomes such a conflicted and therefore, interesting character.
    Textbook badasses such as the one you seem to describe are mostly seen as secondary characters because of their inherent flaw: they don't let the reader/ viewer in. We don't have any access to the inside of their head and therefore, they appear to be little more than a suit of armor (which can only work if you're aiming a the teen or testosterone-driven audience)

    How is the reader supposed to be affected by events he percieves through the eyes of an impervious protagonist?

    Then again, you do mention other characters your protagonist will have issues or ties to. I guess you could use them to expose the flaw in the armor. But if whatever quarrel they might have with him doesn't get him to open up, to question himself, if, indeed, he remains unaffected by anything that hits close to home, then as I reader I don't see how I could root for him.

    Batman, Rorschach, Bruce Banner. All three of these have a flaw, an unability to shut out darkness and violence, whether coming from the outside or the inside. Something that makes them compelling and interesting.
    Compare them to Superman, Dr. Manhattan and Tony Stark. These are all powers and guns. Unbreakable minds or limitless abilities.

    Without a flaw to fight, a character can't appear truly strong. Without conflict there is no goal, and without goal no character.

    Of course, this is all my honest opinion and remains highly debatable.
    Anyhow, I hope it helped.
    Good luck with your character!
     
  3. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Good idea? Maybe not, at least based on what you've given us in your post. While interesting, I know I wouldn't much enjoy a story with a main character who pulls through everything without difficulty. Here's the why: it's hard to relate to them, connect with them. Granted, I also like stories with realism, so that's another reason, but the main reason is the inability to relate. We easily relate to flaws, trials and tribulations, and that also makes us care for the character. If I didn't know this (probably won't be advertised in the blurb), I might get quite far into the novel before realizing that this dude is unbeatable. At the very least he might be beaten by inner demons: loneliness, inability to connect with other people, failing mental health, etc. So even if this guy can't be beaten in a fight, he can be psychologically beaten, and that's interesting.

    What's a professional criminal, anyway? Like he worked for some mafia?

    On the other hand, there's no way of saying if this is a good or a bad idea, since anything can be made to work, and everything is worth trying, right?
     
  4. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Oh yea he's absolutely screwed up in the head and he's fully aware of it, he struggles with changing because its become his way of life. And at his point in life he doesn't even know if he wants to change or not.

    He was originally a gangbanger and graduated to a solo career mercenary/assassin who's always been able to get the job done, big or small.

    Physically, he's always able to pull through but mentally he has had emotional (and even psychotic) breakdowns before, tortured by his past evils, tortured by gods and his strained belief in religion, the coping with the deaths of people he cared for.
     
  5. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If he's screwed up mentally, he's not really unbeatable, is he? Just apply enough psychological pressure and... snap.

    I don't know enough about your story to really give any definitive answer, but generally I dislike characters who are physically superior to everyone, i.e. unbeatable. And by superior I mean characters who get into fights / encounter danger, but there's zero suspense because the reader knows from the start that the character will always triumph.

    It's even worse if the character doesn't even get hurt badly. For instance, Tanya Huff's Valor-books are pretty good, but they suffer of an MC who's just way too perfect and with the exception of one instance in a series of five books, she doesn't even get hurt except for a few bumps and bruises even though she ends up in all kinds of dangerous situations.
    That just made for boring action sequences and the only suspense there was came from wondering which side characters would make it, but the books would have been far more compelling if the MC had been more like an actual human and less like a military goddess.

    Perhaps my likes and dislikes stem from the fact that I love realism, especially when it comes to depictions of violence, and the ugly fact just is that nobody is unbeatable and unless he's fighting 90yo wheelchair patients or people of equal capacity, no man can "win" against multiple opponents with any kind of certainty / consistency. I've trained various martial arts for a quarter century, so I've met quite a few pretty tough guys, some of them world-class, yet even they've gotten their asses handed over to them now and then. That's the nature of real fights: some you win, some you lose, and when you face superior numbers, your chances of survival, much less winning, drop exponentially.

    One of the guys I know is what I basically call a real-life superman (nowadays he's a fulltime teacher of self-defense for civilians and professionals alike), but even he got busted up pretty good when he and his friend fought five guys, some of whom wielded weapons like crowbars. He survived but with a cracked skull and a few other nasty injuries.
    Since I strive to depict violence as it truly is, I steer clear of unbeatable characters, but this is just my personal preference and if you're writing a superhero book, realism probably isn't a big concern anyway, so a physically unbeatable superhuman isn't out of the question either.
     
  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I could go in a slightly different direction with this:

    Immortal Supermen don't have to be unbeatable. They might never lose in a fight, but the best conflicts aren't about characters fighting to fight, but about them fighting to accomplish something.

    Lex Luthor is a normal human. He cannot kill Superman. But neither can Superman waste time - even a fraction of a second - in a direct fight when Lex Luthor's plan is happening all over the world. Superman can beat anybody in a direct fight, but having to find and rescue the hostages here, then find and disable the bomb there, then find and disarm the warship somewhere else... Superman might be the strongest individual in the world and able to do everything somewhere, but Lex Luthor has so many other people under him that he can do something everywhere. No matter how many rules say that the hero should win, there is always a villain using different rules.

    Immortals can't be killed, but protagonists can be hurt, and unbeatable characters are boring not because they would have to be impossibly un-killable, but because they would have to not care about anything that's happening.
     
  7. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    For me it seems interesting enough. It's all a matter of how you write it. In "The Heart of Darkness" there is no conflict really. It is just a narrative. The language makes it a kind of dry read. but the thoughts the MC, Marlowe, has as he's observing the African Congo and the ideas he explore make the story interesting. And It brings up a lot of interesting themes pertaining to the time. Still the only thing stat's happening in the story is Marlowe sailing up a river and seeing things, but the book is widely respected.

    So I think if you write a protag. as unbeatable, and he shrugs everything off as nothing, he would make a good lens for seeing the rest of the world you create. In that way the story might be less about him and his evolution, and more about the world he sees and how it's changing around him. I think you mentioned something like that in your description. Who knows, maybe he encounters something new in crime, or has to use old school knowledge to deal with things happening with new tech. Idk exactly what your story is about, but if you write it well, it will be a page turner even if your main character is an untouchable bad-ass.
     
  8. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    I think that you may have solved your own problem with your Batman analogy. Bruce Wayne may be the ideal physical specimen who is able to get himself out of nearly any scrape, but personally, I think that it's his villains that keep the character from being boring. Barely any of them can match Batman in a physical encounter, but many of them represent some psychological issue that Bruce has had to, or is still struggling to, overcome (i.e. Joker, Scarecrow, Penguin, Two-Face, etc.). Regardless of how much someone has seen in his life, there will always be something that takes them off-guard, even if it's something as simple as the recognition of a feeling (fear, guilt, etc).

    One question: I know that the assumption can be made, but you mention Nicholas Blade as a character -- is he, in fact, your main protagonist?
     

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