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  1. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    How creepy can an MC be?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by R-e-n-n-a-t, Dec 8, 2010.

    Where would be the creepiness "kill-point" of the protagonist where you would no longer want to read a book, assuming you had no prior knowledge of its quality? Would a partially human chimera be too creepy? An alien parasite? A chitinous insect humanoid?

    At what point does a character become too visually disgusting for you to be likely to start reading the book? I personally don't have much of a stake in this question, but someone I know does.
     
  2. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    Oh god no Giant Roach MC's, *shivers*
     
  3. PurpleCandle
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    PurpleCandle Senior Member

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    Have you seen that movie District Nine? Well, I felt bad for those prawns...because the movie writers wanted me too. I was so into the movie that I began to think of ways to help the prawns (oops, I know calling them prawns is a racial slur)

    How far will an audience go before a character is too creepy...I think that question really rests with the author's ability to make readers want to care.

    Think of all the horror movies and those desperate housewives...have you ever wanted to say, "oh, you're evil and your face looks like leather covered in snot...but I know there is some good in you! I will keep watching to see what happens!"

    Forget visuals, think emotional connections.
     
  4. wolfi
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    wolfi Contributing Member

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    All i have to say is I've read some books that when they described i had to keep the lights on\never go down a dark ally




    that being said i tend to read those type of books more :D


    so there is no limit but some people wont like it
     
  5. Bartleby
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    Bartleby Member

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    Creepy is in I think now :) we are all a little more abnormal then we were before.
     
  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    For me, keeping the book in my hands is about the quality of writing: for me, the most important quality traits to have are 1) fast-moving plot: no info-dumps or long pages of nothing happening or at least being built up; 2) realistic dialogue (even if it's fantasy, I don't want to see ultra-archaic purple prose), 3) good voice etc...

    As far as subject matter ,I don't think any type of creature protag is too weird. I have a phobia of cockroaches -- a legit phobia, not just "I think they're gross" -- and I loved The Metamorphosis.

    Now I'm super curious...can you please tell me what kind of protag you have in mind?
     
  7. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    I have nothing particularly controversial in mind (at the moment), but my brother is writing something with at least one important character who's a human-chimera. If anyone's unfamiliar with the term, it's somebody who was genetically altered before birth to have some animal DNA. The thing from Splice was a chimera, although it's unlikely that a real one would be inexplicably violent.

    In the past I was thinking of a sentient alien parasite, which resembles a snail without a shell and spiked bristles lining its underside and stubby tentacles. It would latch on to the back of a recently deceased or unconscious human, use the bristles to tap into the nervous system, and for all intents and purposes, take ownership of the body. The body would be revived, and fully functional as if the parasite was an external brain. Ultimately there would be a moral conflict; the parasite, who is the MC, needs to take a host to survive, but that's bad for the humans obviously. I never did much with this idea, but it's on my "future writing" list.
     
  8. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    That is an AWESOME idea. Now go write it. Right now. :D :D
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I don't like reading stories where I can't like the character - physical has little to do with it. However mental, emotional and character do.

    I personally can't stand Perfume, Catcher in the Rye etc I will forgive a book with engaging characters that is badly written. Don't care how well it is written if I don't have a main object or character to get involved with.
     
  10. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    It will vary by reader.

    One reader's "ewwwwww" is another's "meh - been there, done that".

    -Frank
     
  11. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even the most repulsive MC will get more sympathy from me than a Mary Sue.
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Also, if the reader is grossed out by a slimy and bristly MC, it's a good thing if it rivets them. People can be fascinated by the same things that gross them out.
     
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  13. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    The book American Psycho has Patrick Bateman who is much more heinous than in the movie and both have been extremely successful. I found the book to be a tough read at times but the extremely dark humor and weirdly mundane interests of the character cut the tension after the very gross and pornographic (in every sense of that word) fantasies the character had.

    Personally, I would not want to create a character like that, but if you wanted to reading the book would be good research.
     
  14. thinking
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    thinking Member

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    well, why does he have to be repulsive?

    If you're making the main character disgusting for a REASON, like the point of your work is to show that people society look down upon still have value, then go ahead.

    But if the point is just "ooh, let's see how gross I can make this guy," most readers will put the book down.

    I've started plenty of books that I haven't finished because the gore didn't serve a purpose. Most readers will not appreciate being grossed out for no reason.
     
  15. MetalRenard
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    MetalRenard Member

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    Erm, is "Very" too much of an easy answer?
    Just write it well.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't think there is a limit. Depending on how far you want to go, it may become more difficult to pull it off, but so long as you do a good job with it you can go as far as you like, in my view.
     
  17. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Your MC can be as creepy as you dang well want him to be.

    One of my MC has a friend (that isn't really his friend per se...) who has a sickening fetish that I won't mention here.
     
  18. rainy
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    rainy Senior Member

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    Creepy is mostly subjective.

    The physical aspects of the MC tend to have less impact than the emotional development. Though the characters in Watership Down aren't creepy (unless you're afraid of bunnies), it's a classic example of how well you can develop a char that isn't human. In fact, the MC doesn't even need to be agreeable--there just needs to be a reason why someone would want to read about him.
     
  19. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    In an answer to Thinking's question, yes, the MC has to be creepy. A large part of the plot is about how the general populace of humans consider the (deliberately misnamed) Myxini species revolting and dangerous.
     
  20. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Oh damn. Most of my darker stories are based around an alien, parasitic chitinous humanoid partially human chimera. Or something even creepier.
     
  21. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    Patrick Bateman...one creepy MC.
     
  22. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    In real life, a "chimera" is an organism with different genes in different parts of the body. For example, if two non-identical twins grew together in the womb and became one organism, it would be a chimera.

    An organism which was modified to contain genes from another species, and then grew from a single cell, would be called a "hybrid".

    Depending on how you write it, a human/animal combination need not be creepy at all. Furries love them.
     
  23. Allegro Van Kiddo
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    Allegro Van Kiddo Contributing Member

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    I believe the mythological term came first.
     
  24. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    Here's what I think: you can go as creepy as you want, if you can pull it off. If you're good enough, you can make anything work. But it can't just be casual. You need to think of a unique perspective, tone, and theme that fit this bizarre protagonist, and then live up to those decisions. If you can achieve a suspension of disbelief and make it readable and interesting, it could be great. Of course, some readers don't like reading creepy stuff, but that's unavoidable, there's always someone who won't like it; but others will read it in horrified fascination. :)
     
  25. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    lol.

    I think the idea was that the chimera/hybrid would be modified on a cellular level, before conception. I'm fairly certain Chimera was more of a slang term used by the general racist/speciest populace.
     

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