1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Help on possible perspective

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by GuardianWynn, Jun 26, 2015.

    So, I have a idea for a book. I haven't started writing yet. I am planning to use this idea for NaNoWriMo this year. So I am doing my thinking ahead of time.

    The book idea is a homeless teenager is recruited to join an organization. Through hard physical labor she begins to regain mental strength. Thing is, she joined a terrorist organization. She is self aware of this fact. That is kind of the point. Like;
    "I became evil in order to become whole again. I may not like being evil but I owe this place for saving my life."

    Ultimately the girl accepts that being a villain is her role to play. The book is again about her accepting this role.

    It reminded me of I am Legend. I was wondering if I should try to do a similar thing. Such as play it as if she is a hero and then reveal or flip it at the end. I wasn't sure if this was a good idea or a terrible idea. I would love your advice.

    My own pro/con

    Pro: This approach hides that she is the villain. Which seems like a nice surprise. Plus I figured readers don't really want to follow the villain. Right?

    Con: Part of the point seems to be her accepting the negative role. So hiding the negative aspect of the role does seem to negate this point off the bat.

    Opinions? Thank you.

    Tagging awesome people!
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  2. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    I don't think you should hide the fact that she joined a terrorist organization, and is therefore the "villain." That's exactly what makes it interesting to me - you don't normally get that perspective. :)

    I feel like if you really make the reader empathize with her first, and feel bad for her, and then show the change, THEN focus on the bad that she's actually doing and work on the fact that it's making her feel whole.

    I'm not sure if that made any sense.
     
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  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    By change in this context do you mean what hurt her?
    I mentioned she was homeless. To add more context the idea is that someone in her family tried to kill her and in response she ran away from home. Being what hurt her psyche and that learning to work with the terrorist is what rebuilt her trust in people again.

    So you mean to give her sympathy, open with the sad part? I was originally thinking of opening on the first day of her with the terrorists. Not that much happens at first. She goes through sort of boot camp, you might call it.

    Thank you for the advice. :)
     
  4. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dunno, I liked Dexter and Breaking Bad a lot. You like Dexter because he's a likable person although he chops people up. Plus he chops up terrible people. The development in Breaking Bad was that a good person in a bad situation made choices and led him to becoming a terrible person. By the end I hated him, like, viscerally, but I was hoping for some redemption knowing he used to be good.

    Also, the concept of terrorism and terrorists can be played with. 9/11 is like the archetypal terrorism image worldwide now, but we don't call the US military response to Iraq terrorism. We call beardy brown Arab men trained and armed by foreign governments (ie, US, Soviets) terrorists, but we don't call tight jawed, clean cut white young men fighting for their countries terrorists. I'm not trying to open up a huge debate. Just pointing out that one person's terrorist is another's freedom fighter. If you can position this terrorist group as actually having some reasonable motive to destroy shit and kill people, you get reader empathy. If you paint them as savage, cannibalistic psychopaths, then a) you're writing bad characters, b) feeding stupid stereotypes, c) making it really hard to built reader empathy.
     
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  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now I am curious on what you would call my group. Many people think terrorist is the wrong word anyhow. I think by definition it counts but like you said. It isn't all about letter of the law but about what people think.

    The group is secretive, very good at hiding. They watch political events and people in government very closely. When they find a dirty person high up the ladder. They assassinate them. Main job duty. Though kidnapping, theft, property damage. All in there bag of tricks. Though our MC here does not like directly taking life. So she plans to train to become able to support those killing. Rather then kill her self.
     
  6. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cool. If you frame their assassination targets as monsters, you can pull it off. Like, hack into their phone and find child porn or something. Readers are like, fuck yeah burn them alive. The film THE EAST did this pretty well last year or the year prior.
     
  7. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Yeah, I'd say open with the sad bit. Maybe with her helpless and homeless on the street - flashback to family - helpless and homeless. It'll make the terrorist organization seem like a rosy bath.

    I also agree with Hubardo when it comes to calling them terrorists. The media would probably call them terrorists, but there's more than two sides to every story. Play both stories out
     
  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does that negate part of the point though? I mean the MC sort of calls herself a villain. Like even with those factors the MC believes what they are doing is wrong but she cannot turn her back on them after they helped her become a stable person again. I can't play up the "destroy evil!" angle too much can I?

    Sounds like I am going to need the scene where they try and kill her as a prologue. lol That might be a nice approach though.

    Thanks
     
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  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    What @Hubardo said!

    Continuum plays with this, having a group of white/black Americans who are rebelling against the evil corporations who are enslaving people and removing their rights. OK, they do bad stuff, but nothing compared to the evil deing done by the corporation. But the MC is a police officer who comes from a position of privilege and is defending her position. So the bad guys are actually fighting for the common man. Whose side are you on?

    If you look at the Peasant's Revolt of 1381, the peasants were in rebellion because of a number of factors, culminating in high taxation to pay for foreign wars. Yes, they killed a tax collector, but they'd been milked and left without enough food to last them the winter on a consistent basis for many years. And they get bought off with a royal promise of "something will be done" - and all that was done was the leaders were killed.

    Bear in mind that the USA was born in a rebellion against the powers that be because of a perception of unfair treatment.
     
  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like you are saying since there is an understandible reason for the position, there is no reason to hide the position.

    Does that weaken the resolution though? Of the MC admitting she is a bad person but walking ahead in spite of that?
     
  11. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are multiple perspectives then:

    -MC's
    -The rebel/terrorist/whatever group
    -Society
    -Government
    -Readers

    Maybe the moral judgment can be flexible. She disagrees with the group, but the reader finds their acts justifiable. Society is torn half and half, the government wants their heads. Readers are swayed between love and hate. I don't know how to manage all this though!

    The key in your scenario is the empathy the readers built for the group for having helped her. If we're to like killers, there must be some justification for the killing -- sometimes. I could be wrong...
     
  12. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you put it like that. You make it sound hard as heck!

    And awesome if I manage to pull it off. That makes sense though. Thanks
     
  13. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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  14. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why does that have to be the resolution?

    She's had a shitty life; she finds a group who accept her, give her a purpose; she dies in a car-bomb; she dies happy/tormented. You don't have to tie up that loose end.
     
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  15. Hubardo
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    Hubardo Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, or she gets caught. She gets tortured by the CIA and you get to write what that's like. She turns on the group, double agent style. Turns, turns back, tries to get away. So much room... :)
     
  16. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, because it is her. Hard to answer better than that. In a sense she is torn between to moral issues. The debt to those who in a manner of speaking saved her life and her own view of morality; being that killing is wrong. I always figured the way she would resolve this is by saying something like. "Killing is bad and thus I am bad." Because in spite of not wanting to do that she can't bring herself to turn her back on them. Damn this is sounding more awesome suddenly. lol Just me?

    LOL. Actually once again with most of my work. This is kind of an origin story to a future supporting character. So no getting caught in her future plans. lol. Well even if it did happen, the organization would likely jail break her because she becomes a MVP.
     
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  17. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think both perspectives can work. I'm not sure how long you can keep her working for the bad guys in the dark, though. It's not like in Alias or La Femme Nikita. I think your reader might smell a rat sooner or later, or you would have to rely on gimmicks to keep her real agenda hidden. Otherwise, I like this idea. Twists are a lot of fun.

    The second option is interesting and can work very well, too, and, really, you don't have to worry about making her likeable to keep your reader engaged. The protagonist of American Psycho is terrible but interesting. There is one asshole character who appears in a couple of Chris Ryan's books (yes, I read that "garbage". Someone's guilty pleasure is 50 Shades, mine is mindless military fiction) called John Bald; he's been the main protagonist as well as a side character. He's such a heartless bastard, ready to work for terrorists for profit, yet I find him fascinating. Dexter is eerily likeable in the books (and the TV show). You don't want to like a sociopath, but he wins you over. Yennefer's character in the Witcher books is pretty polarizing too, and Geralt (the witcher) isn't much nobler. All these characters deal differently with their moral dilemmas, some don't struggle at all, others draw the line somewhere, etc. I think it might help you to find the limits of your character by simply writing her, see how she deals with the situations you throw at her.
     
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