1. Kursal
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    Kursal New Member

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    I have a main character...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kursal, Apr 2, 2009.

    I have a main character and I have decided that I don't like him. He's perfect for the part but a little bit of an anti-hero to begin with. I'm sure this must have come up before. When you find yourself writing something you don't like or you don't agree with, how do you know you're not going too far away from what is acceptable?

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  2. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor New Member

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    Why worry about what is acceptable?

    Write what you want to write.
  3. Castlesofsand
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    Castlesofsand Banned

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    i agree with D there, you don't have to like the character, just have to create him/her fully enough to see why.
  4. Kursal
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    Kursal New Member

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    Yes, I see what you're saying. I don't want to go too far with him because you're meant to end up empathising with him and I do worry that I will have a hard job writing that if I take him too far.
  5. Rei
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    Rei New Member Contributor

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    I don't think anyone had any trouble empathizing with Vader once he finally redeemed himself at the end of the third Star Wars movie. He blew up entire planets cut of his own son's hand. Also, just because someone is not likeable in the same sense that we like friends, family, and co-workers doesn't mean we can't like reading the character. We can have fun with how much of a badass he is. Or we'll spend the book wondering if he ever will become "good."
  6. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn New Member

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    I always think it's fun to write from the perspective of someone you disagree with because it challenges your skills as a writer and as a human being. It challenges you to understand why other people think in different ways than you--I guess that's one of the reasons I love writing so much--there's so much diversity.
  7. Kursal
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    Kursal New Member

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    Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm having great fun writing him. I just worry that he is too unlikable.

    @Rei

    Yes I see what you're saying about Vader. So, it doesn't matter how bad he is as long as the redemption is of significant value to counter that? I'll have to come up with something suitably humbling.
  8. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor New Member

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    I've heard some people (one of my friends in particular) tell me they didn't like books where they didn't like the main character, but not everyone is like that, and it really doesn't matter as long as the story is well told and enjoyable to read in the end. If you want to make him likable, make him funny, maybe. Keep all the sinful things he does, but make him funny, and that will give people something to laugh at.

    Another angle: I'm currently writing a story about two brothers' conflicting lives, in which the main character becomes jealous and underhanded even when his brother has done nothing wrong - this character is not likable, but he is human, and that was the appeal behind writing him.
  9. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn New Member

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    This is a very good point to me. The appeal of a character doesn't have to be his likeability, but rather his humanity. I think this is definitely something every writer should keep in mind when confronted with these types of issues.
  10. whenchristianwrites
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    whenchristianwrites New Member

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    There doesn't even have to be a redemption. Have you ever read a book with a character that is evil all the way through and at the end you get mad that he never became good? It's frustrating, yet it makes it all the better. At least it is to me.

    Add internal struggles to make it hard for the so called 'hero' to give the reader doubts that he is bad.
    Thats what I would do at.
    Good advice or not, I don't know.
  11. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn New Member

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    I love the books where the main character is bad all the way through and is always struggling with the different paths he can choose and never ends up choosing the right one. It's frustrating to read but it's intriguing because here's real "evil/darkness" at work and it's an intriguing part of the human psyche.

    I love protagonists who are "bad" guys trying to become good but failing because it shows that not everyone is able to find redemption (of whatever sort).

    ~Lynn
  12. whenchristianwrites
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    whenchristianwrites New Member

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    The hardest part of that is getting into the mindset of one of those people. If you can't understand you can't write it to the full potential that the story might have. So if the writer, Kursal in this case, doesn't understand how a person could do it and understand the logic the character would use. They would have to stay away from that
  13. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn New Member

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    While that's true to a point, there's always research--a tool all writers should take advantage of in situations such as these. I also think it's entirely possible for us all to understand how any person could do any act (just by finding some similar situation in which we would react similarly) so it's possible to get into anyone's head. That's just a personal belief. I do think that something like this might be difficult, but in the end, there's always research (a writer's best friend).

    ~Lynn
  14. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Member

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    You dont have to empathise with the protagonist, but he should definitely engage the reader. An interesting, credible character is all you need, as long it triggers an engaging reaction in the reader thats all you need.
  15. whenchristianwrites
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    whenchristianwrites New Member

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    Well I see it like art. Some people can just do it naturally and others can't. So what is possible for you might seem or even is impossible for another.
    If someone just can't get into another's mindset either good or bad. Then it might fit in that situation.
  16. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn New Member

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    Mm.. and here's where I'd have to point out that Psychology is a science :p
    Not that we are all capable of being psychologists, but we're all capable of learning the theories behind psychology. Therefore we're all capable of using those theories in writing (though some of us fare better than others). However, I happen to be of the opinion that writers have to be adaptable to their environment and be able to understand what motivates people (and how everyone is differently motivated) in order to write well. Just a thought there.

    ~Lynn
  17. whenchristianwrites
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    whenchristianwrites New Member

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    True, but there is a diffrence between theroy and execution. Sure you can learn it and in theroy you should be able to trasfer it into writing. In some cases however it might not be that simple. I will say that most people can do it. Just pointing things out.
  18. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Member

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    A bsaic knowledge of psychology will always help. Creating characters requires a bit of psychology in itself. ;)
  19. LordKyleOfEarth
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    LordKyleOfEarth Senior Member Contributor

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    Just make him a complete person. If he is truely human we will be able to empathise. The Vader example was the one I was going to use, great call Rei.
  20. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Member

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    Take him too far anyway. Take him so far into the depths of anti-heroism, that you may not understand HOW in the hell he is the protagonist in the first place!? \

    And then write about his redemption at the very last moments.
  21. Stanito
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    Stanito New Member

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    I know how you feel. I wrote a first draft of a novel before I realized the story would have been more interesting with a different main character. :(
  22. ABStarns
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    ABStarns New Member

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    Go go search feature.

    I'd like to add my own variation on the question asked, if I may -

    My focus is YA and the main character I'm considering is unlike most of the genre. She is popular, self-involved and extremely selfish (think Brooke McQueen from Popular if anyone actually remembers that show).

    My worry is that she won't be likable as a main character in a genre with tends to focus on either social outcasts, academic types or just "average" teenagers.

    Any thoughts, ideas, rants?
  23. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Senior Member Contributor

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    If I liked every character I created, I wouldn't get so annoyed when they come up with a load of crap to justify some stupid mistake and then get away with it. But I do - it's who they are.

    If you have made a character, why make him into a different one just because you watched a film that did something a little different to your plans?
  24. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 New Member

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    I look at it this way, a villain is a character without a single redeeming quality. An anti-hero much like Batman, Venom, or the Crow have some redeeming qualities there that make them understandably human. A hero always tries to do the right, self-sacrificing thing for the sake of either the one they love, or all of humanity.

    An anti-hero can have many villain qualities, but there is a twist of humanity, it can be a single act of selflessness, or the reasoning behind why they are an anti-hero. They may not be the most likable characters to settle in with, but they are extremely interesting.

    I think some characters who fall into the anti-hero category are much better than the sugary sweet hero types. Because a hero that is always good seems less human, because let's face it none of us are really that good all the time. We all have an evil streak in us, it's just a matter of how much we use it that makes us either generally good people or bad people.

    Take Lestat for example. He is that type of character. A selfish, self-centered being who does some really bad things, but there are some redeemable qualities to him here there that make him likable. He was lonely in Interview, so he makes Louie. But that was a selfish act. But being told from Louie's perspective of whining, Lestat seems worse than he actually is. In Lestat we find out more about him as a character. Then in further books we see him do some horrible stuff, but then there are little things, little moments where he really is a good guy underneath it all.

    Does it matter how far you push the envelope? With an anti-hero type no. You can push it as far as the story lets you, as long as there is at least one redeeming quality to your character that people can empathize with.
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