1. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    How far is too far?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheDarkWriter, Jun 9, 2016.

    So in one of my stories that I'm working on the main character is very messed up in the head he didn't always use to be but in his past he basically went through his own odyssey thats akin to Oliver Queen's(from Arrow) five years on a hellish island. Except my main character was framed and put in a prison slash mental institution where a lot of horrible things were done to him and he became really unhinged.

    Basically a lot of what he endured ranged from rape, mental torture, garden variety psychotic experiments, and that was just in the first year of his odyssey back ground so you can probably imagine how screwed up in the head he is. He's tempermental, an alcoholic, has a girlfriend whose an addict and he's abusive.

    The irony is he's the good guy and his villains make him look like a well rounded guy the bad guys are that crazy. The story is like Outlast, Supernatural, and Constantine rolled into one. I just don't want too go to far with his crazyness because he's not very stable and he knows he's but refuses help because he understandably has issues with doctors. He also does a lot bad things and while I want to make it clear he's damaged both mentally and emotionally I don't want him cross a line where readers will no longer root for him.

    So how far is too far?
     
  2. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    Make the girlfriend mutually abusive and keep it clear that she's in this relationship because she want to be or wants a challenge, not just because of the abuse. Make her fierce, and people will see the relationship as messed up, but not bad persay. Never let him sexually abuse a child, and you could add a bit where he keeps them out of harms way. Or maybe he keeps a kid safe without realizing why he did what he did, and it takes another character to tell him. Of course, if this isn't something that could fit in, feel free to disregard this.
     
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  3. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    That point where he gives in and has no regret what so ever. Doing something so batshit insane and devastating to another character that it permanently damages them forever, and not even remembering who he really is. No 'sorry' no nothing.

    In this particular character, I respect their power to resist their own insanity. I love their constant battle within their own mind, and how even if they do something wrong, they recover and come back, and understand that it was bad. Then they attempt to make some sort of amends. When they do that and don't recover, that's when it's too far. But then again, it's not about rooting for him anymore, it's a real change in story dynamic - and that's not bad reading.
     
  4. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    I plan on making her mutually abusive to she's pretty much as screwed up as he is she provokes him a lot and gets off on his abuse. Though there are a lot of times that he scares her. Though there will be a time skip where they meet up and are both better now that's the part that's driving me nuts how should she as a clean person interact with him as a sober person?
     
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  5. Yume No Okami
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    Yume No Okami Member

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    If she's been sort for a while, make her flat out scared, but I suppose trying to control herself around him, still turned on? Hrm. I think the problem might be that he doesn't sound like a real life abuser- a real life abusive partner goes through cycles with a honeymoon period where they're a perfect partner. If he's like that then she might be less hesitant to stay.
    If they shack back together make it a playful abusive. Like they still get turned on by it, but it's clear that they aren't serious and it's a remnant of the past more than anything.
     
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  6. TheDarkWriter
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    TheDarkWriter Active Member

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    That's pretty much what I'm going for my main character he's destructive and does a lot of bad things but will start out trying to do good. This is his pattern he starts off picking himself up and it gets to a good point then something bad happens or multiple bad things happen and he falls off the wagon. Then he does something really bad and falls into a depression and tries to pick himself up thus causing the cycle to restart.
     
  7. Samuel Lighton
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    Samuel Lighton Contributing Member

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    Then run with it :) you'll figure it out, they are your characters.


    I think part of the grim fascination with characters like this is just seeing how far they can go before they break. And then seeing what they turn into when they do.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2016
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  8. Kallisto
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    Kallisto Active Member

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    Good question. Not everyone emotionally damaged becomes violent. Some people become passive.
     
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  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If he uses sinister methods to fight a bigger evil, his own shaky ethics could be forgiven by your readers. If he starts to seek redemption after doing a Horrible Thing X, your readers may forgive him, depending on what he did (some acts are unforgivable: we can forgive murder, but child abuse, sexual abuse, and rape are something your readers most likely can't get over). If his actions are "justified" in some other way (vendetta, PTSD), your readers may extend some sympathy to him, but it also depends on what he has done. If he's in a mutually abusive relationship, he's as much a victim as the woman, which can make some people sympathize with him, at least on some level.

    How far is too far will depend on your reader, so it's a bit difficult to say what would be completely unforgivable. Readers put books down for different, often personal reasons. I once asked how readers would feel if there was a false rape allegations in the book, and this was one of the responses:

    So something you think might fly, could be a total deal-breaker to another reader, depending on their personal tastes, experiences, values, etc. so it's difficult to determine when you've gone too far.

    Recommended reading:

    Tammy Cohen's Killer Couples. That should give you plenty of ideas for their relationship, his violent nature, and what monsters do and why.

    Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim novels: the titular character was tortured in Hell and had to fight all kinds of hellbeasts there to survive. He came out fucked up, morally corrupt, but not too evil. These books might interest you.

    Brandon Sanderson's The Final Empire: one of the main characters, Kelsier, was tortured by the main villain in some kind of hell pit. He came out scarred physically and mentally, and he makes morally suspect decisions sometimes, but he's still likeable.
     
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  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "Provokes him" isn't going to excuse the abuse. Now, plenty of characters do wrong things in book; I'm just saying that provocation doesn't make it less wrong.
     
  11. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    I don't think there is a 'too Far' and ya up to you what you put in your book as long as your happy with it.
    I can imagine 'he' would see his girlfriend as provoking him to abuse (not that it's right or wrong) it's all about what he is going through and what's going on in his head!
    So if he thinks he is doing right then he will just do it... Correct me if I'm wrong :)
    I like the idea of that he is in-hinged, and yet for all the bad things he has done/does he is the good guy in comparison! That to me sounds like an interesting story, like I said I personally don't think there is a too far! It's up to you :)
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Nobody is going to be able to tell you on this thread how far is 'too far.' It all depends on how you handle it, and even then, folks will jump ship for all sorts of reasons. Just write the story as you feel it needs to be written, and try to be realistic about who your target audience will be.
     
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  13. Ethek
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    Ethek New Member

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    After so many years of phyical and mental abuse he must have died, a human mind can only take so much before it snaps and your hearts gives up.

    Maybe you did went a little too far.
     
  14. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Reminds me of Pandora's box.

    Even with all the evil in the world, hope keeps us going.
     
  15. SomePenName
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    SomePenName New Member

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    Nothing is too far. If books like Lolita by Nabokov or American Psycho by Ellis can be celebrated, it just shows that readers can attach themselves to anything, even if it's pure evil wrapped in flesh like Patrick Bateman.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Read Ian Graham's fantasy novel Monument. The main character, Ballas, is thoroughly despicable. No redeeming characteristics.
     
  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    It needs to make sense. 'Too far' is when it's silly, unrealistic or doesn't seem necessary. The context and the descriptions are key. Why is it happening, how is it happening, why does he behave in a certain way, and how does it impact the individuals involved. Batshit crazy can be very interesting if the character makes sense.

    There's a script in the workshop that goes 'too far' even though it isn't as vulgar or excessive as other works I've seen or read, but it was the way it was written that came across and exploitation, not story.

    If it seems silly, doesn't make sense, or seems like it's just been put there to look bad or excessive, it's too far.
     
  18. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    You just described the plot of my book.
     
  19. Buttered Toast
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    Buttered Toast Active Member

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    It's a story... You can write whatever you like in your own story and as its fiction that gives you the go ahead, in my opinion lol
    If you want it to be consumed by 'the logical' then do that instead, I just think it's up to you to decide what is enough, it's your book!
    Also like I said before I like your ideas and would be interested in reading it :)
     
  20. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    The only line is the one you draw in the sand.
    Your MC sounds like a good read, others have said it before but its your book and your ideas. I think however if you want your character to be one the readers root for then whenever he does something which makes you think the readers wont like him anymore than you could trump what he has done or is about to do by something much worse. I.E say at the start of a chapter you MC is punching his GF in the gut as hard as he can, folding her in half. Then it could be explained she had cut his dogs head off. By presenting it in that order your readers will start by thinking the MC is a horrible person but as the chapter develops the reader may think his actions are justified or maybe he didn't go far enough he should have stamped on her head too.
    Just my opinion btw.
     
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  21. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    As mentioned is your story and you can do what you like with it. But if he's supposed to be a protagonist we like and root for you have to be careful. I'd suggest looking at books/tv/films/games with violent anti-hero protagonists for examples of what the best and worst people do and get away with are.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2016
  22. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    OP-I think he means Ant-Man
     
  23. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oops. :bigoops: Fixed. Thanks!
     
  24. joeh1234
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    joeh1234 Active Member

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    Haha I wasn't being mean, I just got the image of Ant hero's and was laughing to myself :D
     
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  25. FireWater
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    FireWater Active Member

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    Maybe when he's doing something abusive--say, to his girlfriend--you could show through the writing that he was somehow triggered, like in that moment he perceives the girlfriend to be one of his past abusers and he perceives her as doing something to hurt or threaten him in the way that the abusers would have done.

    For example: if he was tortured with hot irons when he was little by someone with a blue jacket, then maybe one day the gf is wearing a blue jacket and is taking something out of the stove with hot prongs and then starts to walk toward him. She could be totally oblivious and clueless, with no harmful intention at all, but you could show through his internal thoughts that he's knocked into trigger mode and perceives himself to be acting in self-defense when he hurts her.

    This way, even if readers recognize he's in the wrong, they can still see how messed up he is and they can get where he's coming from.
     
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