1. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    I'm afraid my "antihero" is too unlikable.....

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Blood Countess, Jul 2, 2012.

    Character Profile:
    Name: Joshua Franks
    Age: 27
    History: Father was murdered, and due to a corrupt fostering system, was placed in the care of a negligent "godfather" whom he had never before heard of. Suffering from new traumas(mental issues), Joshua mutilates himself to gain attention from his caretaker. After a while, he becomes defiant. His caretaker is shot dead in a town riot and, again, Joshua is forced into the care of another stranger, only this time with his foster sister who is mentally handicapped(very simple-minded). Months later, while teaching his "sister" to paddle water in the pond, she goes under. Mentally impaired, he finds her struggle amusing and watches her drown, all while the caretaker is in the house running errands. Joshua hatches an idea to use his "sister's" body to stage his own death, thus freeing him from the foster system. (Note, there is no DNA evidence during this time and Joshua was seen as responsible enough to watch his "sister" because he had done it numerous times before.)

    Currently: Joshua lives under another pseudo, hunting down the men who ruined his life(murdered his father and first caretaker). He falls in love with a woman who later commits suicide, and he ends up befriending a few people along the way. He achieves great feats that help many people, but he does it for self-gain(which is why I call him an antihero, and not to mention his bloody vendetta). Toward the end of the story, there is somewhat of a 360. He marries and many of his egotistical properties disappear. Joshua even allows one of his enemies to live.

    I'm afraid some of his good or "empathetical" traits don't balance out the horrible things he does or has done.
    What do you think? Advice?
    I was hoping to keep the atmosphere consistently dark and mysterious.
     
  2. Shane Grayson
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    Shane Grayson Member

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    I think this is great anti-hero; hell, for the right story, he could be the main protagonist. In my opinion, I like everything except for the "hunting down the men who ruined his life" aspect. That feels so "action" movieish. I personally have never heard of someone who was born into such situations and yet had a vendetta. Your anti-hero being raised in those situations would most likely think that this is how the world operates, as opposed as those men doing something wrong. He might even see them as it being a justified act. If you haven't already, check out The Violent Bare It Away by Flannery O'Connor.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The "finds her struggles amusing" is the part that would make me permanently dislike the character. Using her body to stage his death, even allowing her to die in order to use her body to stage his death, I can imagine forgiving. _Enjoying it_, no.
     
  4. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Its hard to make a anti-hero likable... But its possible to make them entertaining. Look at Kratos off God of War.
     
  5. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I have to agree with this. I don't see anything that he do later which will balance out this horrible act, unless may be he suffers the same fate as the little girl somehow.
     
  6. noodlepower
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    noodlepower Member

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    I don't see a problem with the character except watching his "sister" drown to death for his own amusement. That makes him seem like a sociopath which doesn't balance out with him wanting to avenge his caretakers' deaths. I think something better to balance that out would be something like he distracted by old memories, wrapped in his own misery or something, and by the time he snaps back into it he sees his sister splashing around and finds it amusing, not realizing she's drowning until its too late.
     
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Rather have him find his sister has drowned by accident (not his fault) and then he thinks to use the body to stage his own death. Because seriously, my mind is stuck on the point where he finds his sister's drowning "amusing" and that has forever tainted him in my mind as a psychopath and someone I'd hate. It especially does NOT fit into your 360 degree turnaround. Based on his background - esp the watching his sister die and finding it "amusing" - there's no way he's have the 360 degree turnaround unless he was clinically treated in a mental ward and still he'd need to want to be helped to change at all. But then your story would take a really different turn, as it'd be about his recovery in a psychiatric home, learning to feel remorse for his past deeds and being forgiven. Unless that's where you wanna go, drop the watching his sister drown bit and possibly tweak the 360 degree turnaround. These 2 facts are the particularly jarring ones.
     
  8. Lumipon
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    Lumipon Member

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    He doesn't actually seem like a hero at all.

    A traditional hero is made from his will to fight for the greater good against injustice. An anti-hero lacks this sense of self-sacrifice and works for his own selfish ends (but is not evil). Your character does work for his own selfish revenge, but it doesn't make him a hero. He doesn't do it to better the world or to prevent further murders. He just needs to vent his anger in the most foul way possible. And that is not heroic at all. And I can say for sure that I wouldn't like him at the start.

    This is not a bad thing, mind you, and only my opinion.
     
  9. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    I can see your point. I only applied "hero" to him because his decisions, no matter how foul, end up helping many others. It's hard to explain, but the entire country benefits from his vendetta. I'd say that about 2/3rds in, he ends up intentionally fighting for others instead of for himself. He really isn't evil in my POV because the people he targets are more than deserving of death(not that you should kill people, but that's what makes his "heroism" controversial).

    As to the others, I can totally see how that past event makes him unlikable. I was hoping this scene would exhibit how badly his psyche suffered from earlier traumas. He claims later on to have been unable to save her(hard to explain). Still, if this scene makes him look absolutely HORRIBLE, than I'll alter it.

    Very true! One of his friends/accomplice was suppose to have a large impact on him and how he would usually handle anger, remorse, etc. I think I exaggerated the 360. :p It's more of a "He can now live with himself a bit more" moment. His psyche is still damaged, but his self-control his strengthening with the help of his friends and new wife.

    Wow, I have a lot to edit. XD
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    To me, it does, though I may be misunderstanding the details. I interpret it as meaning:

    - He was observing the suffering
    - right in front of him (and therefore not "evening news" abstract)
    - of someone who was innocent
    - and he understood that it was suffering that he was seeing,
    - and he understood that the creature suffering was a living being just as he was
    - and he enjoyed seeing that suffering.

    If you eliminate any _one_ of these, then I might be able to imagine him being redeemed. If the whole package is there, I couldn't. He could still be interesting, in a Hannibal Lector kind of way, but he could never be anything but a monster for me.
     
  11. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    Oh my! He didn't enjoy seeing the suffering. Sorry if I made it seem that way. He was just in "awe" about it. It was new and interesting, and his first time seeing life actually leave the body whereas prior-to he had only seen the aftermath of death. He was intrigued by what he was seeing. Think of a child playing with fire. They know its dangerous, they know they shouldn't, but it's just TOO interesting to stop. They only regret playing with fire when they get burned, get in trouble, or when the flames grow beyond control.
    Joshua knew he should have helped his sister, but the scene was much too interesting for him to stop it or even think to stop it. That's the damage of his psyche. XD His current position is now like a child burnt by the fire. This memory of not intervening sticks with him.

    As for your fifth point, my character has come out to be a little detached. He can care for people, as he did his sister, but his ability to feel as they do is lacking. I can only describe it as a "veneer emotion". He can feel emotions toward people, but he cannot recognize and share emotions with people. It's like I can care for you, but when you're in pain, I can't understand it, nonetheless empathize with it. This is also a reason why he can appear to be egotistical. He can only recognize and empathize with himself.

    Oui, he's very hard to explain. Does the above elaboration excuse some of it, or am I still in need of tweaking? And I'm terribly sorry if this is becoming more confusing by the moment.
     
  12. michaelj
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    michaelj Senior Member

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    Well, you also need to give some redeeming qualities to make him likable, anti-hero or not. And what is he saving? If he isn't saving anything then hes just a complete a-hole.
     
  13. Samo
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    Samo Member

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    He doesn't have to be 'likeable' or 'good' to draw empathy and your character could be excellent as you have him.

    In order to gain empathy, you have to bare the character's humanity so we readers see that he is like us. Being an empathetic character and being likeable - these things are not mutually exclusive.

    As your guy watches his sister drown, we gain insight into his character as this is an action he has chosen under pressure. He is like us - we sometimes do bad things just for the sake of it. Not necessarily as extreme as this, though I did shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die ;)

    If you then show the character (probably later on) performing an act that is contrary to what we have seen before, you present a new dimension to the character. This is almost exemplified by him sparing an antagonist he has previously been out to kill. You are right to point out balance, though, as the contrary act must be of greater measure than the first. Sparing a man does not equate to drowning for the fun of it and so you should look deeper to discover the absolute limit your character is willing to go to and then push it further and then force him to choose.

    Don't be scared into thinking that people will only relate to the character if he is a likeable guy and laden him with good and redeeming qualities. Show us convincingly how and why he changes from cold-blooded killer to humble forgiver through pressured choice and we'll all go home happy and satisfied.
     
  14. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    Wow, thank you Samo. That's actually a relief to hear.

    I'm not sure if I said it earlier, but he didn't drown the girl for fun. XD I've heard this twice, so I must have given that impression somewhere.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It was this, for me:

    "he finds her struggle amusing "

    Did you mean something other than amusing?

    Edited to add: Well, that is, I realized that _he_ didn't drown her, but "amusing" still communicates, to me, that he found her drowning to be fun.
     
  16. The Blood Countess
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    The Blood Countess Member

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    I was using "amusing" as a synonym for "intriguing" or "interesting." My mistake. XD
     
  17. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think you should probably balance out his childhood a bit more, by giving him someone to love or a character that loves him no matter how minor.
    I've known some really abused foster kids in my time. They don't do 360's. They remain just as messed up in the grown up years as in their childhood.
    They never trust anyone, don't marry, and rarely hold friendships. I could be nickpicking because this afterall your book is fiction but from what you described I don't think I'd buy the turnaround without some foreshadowing hope.
     
  18. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ah, I see. For what it's worth, "amusing" would suggest that he found it funny and perhaps laughed. I'm not trying to harp on the misunderstanding, just clarifying the word in case there's any leftover ambiguity. My first suggestion for a replacement word would probably be "fascinated."

    To clarify it even more, "amused" as in, "He amused himself by rearranging the salt shakers in the shape of a heart," wouldn't suggest laughter, it would suggest a sort of low-key interest. That may be where the "interesting" meaning comes from.
     
  19. Quabajazzi
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    Quabajazzi Member

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    Even if you're using 'amusement' as 'interesting' or 'intriguing', there does need, even if it's subtle, some balance. Now don't think this has to be over time balance; it can be straight away. Even if, at first, he tries to reach her and his hand slips or she is too deep under; even if he is unsure or even afraid (probably too strong a word), and watches her drowning which doesn't completely intrigue him, but partly does with the rest of his emotions being that of fear at first (both her drowning and being in trouble for letting it happen), then maybe a blank emptiness and finally you could add a relatable feeling of hope: now he might be able to escape, or something. As for not knowing wrong from right and hunting down the people who ruined his life, maybe there could be source where he learns to identify that what these men did was 'wrong'. You could develop that theory as well as even why they did it, and how he finds them. But besides that I really love the concept of this character! Goodluck developing him and your story!
     
  20. Jamie Senopole
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    Jamie Senopole Member

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    I agree with this. I think that he sounds like an interesting character to be able to read in first person. When seeing his actions through his eyes and what he's feeling when he does them, I think will make the readers really care for him.
     

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