1. Wynter
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    Wynter Active Member

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    How much can rage carry your character?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Wynter, Jan 24, 2015.

    I was thinking over this while writing and, how much should a desire for revenge, justice shape your characters journey? With mine I was considering having him solely driven by that desire, when he has his villain cornered and charges blindly, fueled with rage only to watch as one of his friends die because of it. He has companions, he has allies but all of them are insignificant in the face of his enemy, if they stand in his way then he removes them from his path, it's only towards the end that he realizes the full extent of his action/or rather his lack of action towards his friends that ultimately ruins him.

    But should the character have more, should there be more to him? Or is his embodiment of rage, fury enough to drag him over the line? In this case there's not so much character development in the MC but in those around him as they realize just how far he's willing to go.
     
  2. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Moby Dick? I like a good revenge tale myself.
     
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  3. Wynter
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    Wynter Active Member

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    Will ashamedly say I've never read it, or even know it's ending other than "man hunting a whale".

    Which actually surprises me haha, might check it out if I have time over the next few days/weeks
     
  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think we all know people whose every move seems to be motivated by some inner demon. People who blame everything that has ever happened to them on one other person, or on one event or circumstance. They can't seem to back up and look at the total picture. It's my no-good husband's fault. It's my controlling mother's fault. My evil teacher humiliated me in front of the class. Bla bla bla. Conversations with these people always seem to return to their point of reference. I think a desire for 'revenge' is only another degree of the same kind of behaviour.

    I think it's easy to picture a character who is so blinded by his/her own perception of justice and revenge that they fail to take into consideration what THEIR actions are doing to people around them.

    Making this type of character into a sympathetic one will be the challenge for you, as a writer. If you want us to be sympathetic towards this character, that is.

    This might be where choosing Point of View (POV) is very important. Are we going to be in this character's head, or watching the action from the viewpoint of some other character? That's something to consider carefully. Which perspective will yield the story result you want?
     
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  5. Wynter
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    Wynter Active Member

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    I'm definitely considering 3rd person in place of my usual first, and occasionally bouncing it around to other characters.

    In a way it helps me build that rage, in contrast to first person where if all the character is doing is chasing this one person, his reasons will be revealed, the entire thought process he has will be dedicated to this one person. He and subsequently the reader could be reduced to thinking about this character to the point of ad nauseum. Third person helps encapsulate the race to find the villain, his attitudes towards his friends and those around him and you can see it more clearly, how he's destroying himself with his actions.

    I really want to be careful about motivation though, this is a person chasing a man with lethal intent being the only thing on his mind, if the excuse is flimsy it throws the whole novel off kilter.
     
  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I planned a character who was at first solely motivated by revenge... He started to feel like a cardboard cut-out. When I tried to write his thoughts, they felt unconvincing and cartoonish. It felt better to give him other qualities: a strong sense of duty (not even his thirst for revenge will stray him from obeying orders), an ability to develop real feelings (not just romantic) for people who actually care about him even though for a long time he felt numb with grief (that's the development part), and finally a realization that his goal is selfish and only hurts those who love him, and since he's not a sociopath or anything, he can't just shrug off the guilt he has felt and will feel again. In the end, another person will continue carrying his torch, and her revenge story will be a bit different, but this time I'm prepared to add more layers than just rage.

    I'm comfortable with this, but I don't know if it's the best or the right solution (could be clichéish). If I were you, I think I'd approach it from the direction of what feels real. You probably want him to feel like a real person, instead of a cartoon character, and real people are pretty complicated.
     
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  7. stevesh
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    stevesh Banned Contributor

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    Moby Dick was written in first person, but from the point of view of one of Ahab's crewmen ("Call me Ishmael.") Worked fine as a means of describing Ahab's obsession without the filter of his own (Ahab's) insanity.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Best Served Cold is a good example of a revenge novel in the fantasy genre, and how far that can sustain a story (though it's a grim tale).
     
  9. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    It may be just me, but I see "rage" as the blaze of emotion that carries you through a particular event. Long term, it is more hate than rage. Obsessive hatred is usually ineffective/self-destructive. Historically the most effective revenge efforts are accomplished by people who coldly and carefully plan their actions rather than allowing the desire to overcome logic and cunning.
     
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  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think that's right. In the example I gave, for example, it is Monza's hate that drives things, though that hate can spark back into rage at various times. It is not a constant state of rage, however.
     
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  11. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    Revenge can carry a lot. It is a complex emotion, and all of us, at some point, may desire it.
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Hatred goes on a bit longer than rage. Rage is a sudden spark, the ignition that turns the flight/fight response on automatic high. Hate is like a simmering water that boils in the background. If your character hates someone enough, he/she could use that hatred to coldly plan and execute a revenge plot.

    I'm with @KaTrian on this one. Even if your character is full of hate and wants nothing more than to see a perceived enemy punished, he/she should have other sides that aren't 'I hate this person'. One of my characters, for instance, hates Estonians for something that happened when he was a child visiting over there. He's an ass and he considers his poor treatment of two of his Estonian students to be the perfect form of justice, but that's not all he is. He has hobbies, interests and desires that aren't 'feed upon my own hatred! Muwahahahaha!' Otherwise he'd be a cartoon villain and may as well be petting a cat while twirling a mustache.

    But how much rage/hatred can your character carry? There are people in our world who spend their entire lives hating someone or something and picking out perceived 'enemies' to lay blame for everything they think is wrong with their life. Some eventually figure out that they're only hurting themselves and those around them, other's don't.
     
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  13. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    It depends on what your character is raging over.

    Rage because some bad driver cut you off and made you slam on your brakes? Probably not.

    Rage because someone framed you for treason, murdered your wife, kidnapped your daughter, and plan on using her for some diabolical plan? Rage on!
     
  14. PandaPrincess
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    PandaPrincess Member

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    I think it depends on when the incident inciting the character's need for revenge began. If it was an event that happened in childhood, the trauma could have affected them to the extent where it became embedded in their psyche. If the memories have been with them for is essentially a life time, it is feasible that it could shape their very essence as it will be all they have ever known.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm confused. Is it that he seeks revenge for the death of one of his friends, but he allows his newer friends to die in the cause of that revenge? Or is the revenge for something else? If it's the first, allowing friends to die in the cause of avenging a friend seems inconsistent.
     
  16. Jenurik Name
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    Jenurik Name Member

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    ^ So. Going by avatars, I think I'm the cooler rooster. :D

    I think as a motivation rage is more than sufficient. It also depends on the kind of work you're undertaking. The longer and more sprawling it is, the more you have to find something else. Needing to find an answer, or keeping those he loves safe.

    The Dark Tower series by Stephen King started with Roland Deschain driven solely by his need to track down the man in black and avenge the fall of Gilead. But as the series goes on leading his ka-tet and keeping them safe becomes an equal priority.

    I generally think for a stand alone novel that a purely violent motivation can carry the plot. The protagonist needs to kill his mortal foe, who is moving and weaving throughout the setting, so the pursuit gives you a lot of flexibility to construct the story.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2015
  17. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^I am definitely the best rooster here.
     
  18. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    I don't quite know where I stand on this one. I have a story where I suppose rage is a rather large theme; one character becomes so enraged that he leaves his friends so that he can conduct his own personal revenge, although a part of this is also a desperation to save a friend. I suppose another character in the same story represents what you have best, though; he is told he must fight two of his friends to the death in order to go free and, due to the rage that he has against the people forcing him to do so which makes him think he can defeat them if he is let go, goes to kill his own friends. He is, in the end, saved from this fate but he would have done it. I think that rage must be handled with extreme care; if a character actually kills his friend because of it he can become unlikable to the reader, even if he shows remorse for it.

    But I don't think that a character necessarily needs to have more to them than rage. Every character has a reason for what they do - a sense of justice, a lust for power, a need for revenge, etc. Sometimes a character is driven by one thing and that's it.
     
  19. CGB
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    CGB Active Member

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    Anger/rage is often the superficial expression of what actually lies deeper and at the heart of the problem (fear, disappointment, whatever). That is what I was taught at a "how to deliver bad news" seminar during my second semester of medical school.
     

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