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  1. Gateship
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    Gateship Member

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    Introducing my antagonist

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Gateship, Jan 6, 2007.

    The novel I'm working on has three main characters - the male protagonist, the female protagonist, and the male antagonist.

    The MA is an older man who heads up the biggest corporation on the planet. He's... oh I don't know - an evil Bill Gates with a dash of Lex Luthor, lol.

    At the moment, his first scene is back in time ten years from the major action, and is between him and the MMC. Although it doesn't seem important, the scene is setting up a major fall for the MMC later in the story.

    The thing is, I want to tell the MA's backstory, why he's... not evil, but why he's twisted (absolute power, etc, etc) - however, this means going further back. I don't know whether to start the chapter with this backstory, or for him to reflect after the confrontation with my MMC.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Robert
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    Robert Banned

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    Are you sure you need to explain it? Can you not hint at it without all the backstory?
     
  3. Gateship
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    Gateship Member

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    Possibily. But even though absolute power corrupts absolutely, it's still a gradual process. I don't want the reader thinking that my antagonist just woke up one morning and decided to want everything his own way.

    Also, it's not going to be in chunks, because some of his backstory is a major plot point that I don't want revealed until much later in the story.

    Thanks for giving me something to think about though.
     
  4. Robert
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    Robert Banned

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    Backstory stops your story in its tracks while it explains something. It can be done well, but often isn't. If you're sure you need it, fine.

    Sometimes a better idea is to begin your story earlier, so that the backstory becomes the beginning, an early chapter or even a prologue (but who likes prologues, right?)

    It's not that you should avoid backstory, but be sure your reader really needs it. I didn't need to know much about Darth Vader to find him effective. Sometimes less is more.

    Cheers,
    Rob
     
  5. Gateship
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    Gateship Member

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    Ooh, good point. Okay, I'm obviously being too anal over this chapter and should write it.

    I have a prologue actually. Though it's more a literal version of the "teasers" you get for television programs before the credits...
     
  6. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    It sounds like you have answered your own question:

    If you are thinking this then so will the reader. If it’s a plot point then it’s going to be needed during the actual story and not necessarily in the exposition, which, in my opinion and my style, is not really all that useful other than to keep as a writer’s notes.

    If you are doing your job as a writer correctly (interpret that anyway you like) then we will figure out for ourselves whether your antagonist is evil or twisted in his nature. It’s a common mistake to want to explain everything. Just trust the reader, put your confidence in them.


    Do you understand the technique of deep characterisation? This may help you out with your character construction so that you won't need to rely so much on writing so much exposition.
     
  7. Gateship
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    Gateship Member

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    I've done a great deal of characterisation and profiling, but I don't know if this classes as "deep characterisation".

    I don't write large chucks of exposition, and I try and work it into the story so that it's not breaking up the flow.

    This is my prologue to give you an idea of my style.
     
  8. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Deep characterisation isn't a technique, it's a goal.

    Gateship, there are many ways you can pull off what you want. When you flashback ten years, you can simply have his behaviour differ for a start. You can have other characters mention things about him; having your protagonists do this would be a great tool. You can have the guy reflect on it himself, or show it in his mannerisms ect. ect. There are many, many ways you can make this guy the tragic villian-type figure.

    Also, make sure he's not 100% bad, even after his change. He's still the same guy. Give him some redeeming features, just as you should give the protagonists flaws.

    - FoY
     
  9. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    No, a goal is incidental to characterisation. :rolleyes:

    Deep characterisation involves the deeper state of subconscious in a character; the things they say to themselves in a given situation, etc that could be the motivating factor of their actions.
    Techniqe is what you develop within the craft of writing.
     
  10. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Deep characterisation is something to aim for in your writing. Thus, it is a goal.

    Giving a character motives and thoughts does not make the character in anyway real, or in anyway deeply characterised.

    I'm curious. Would you like a diagram, or are you content to follow me across the boards with this tripe?

    - FoY
     
  11. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    First of all mate, you're subscribed to the same forums/threads as me. So inevitably I'm going to get the e-mail prompts.
    Secondly, familiarise yourself with the technique of writing from the inside out.
    If you're writing a scene whereby a guy is about to announce to his wife he wants a divorce it's going to be a pretty good thing to know what is in his head before the scene actually starts, no? That way anything not deemed predictable can result.
    Many tools are available to a writer to construct the event of a scene. The example I gave is one of them.

    There's your diagram.
     
  12. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    If you're writing a scene whereby a guy is about to announce to his wife he wants a divorce it's going to be a pretty good thing to know what is in his head before the scene actually starts, no?


    Actually, no. I'll ignore your idiotic retorts and give you some advice, since you've said the above more than once. What you're describing is an info dump. Someone has probably told you what one is, and that it's bad, so you've probably vomitted it back up somewhere. Exposition is something you regurgitators view as a gold mine, but it's not.

    While I'm not sure what the point of the example you gave is, or its relationtion to what I was saying, you should avoid dumps of exposition. You can explain to me his reasoning in the scene, instead of telegraphing it to me in one load. You can pepper the scene with his thoughts, with his dialogue, with his actions, and the competent reader will understand - so long as you can write.

    Here's your summary, Max.

    Exposition = naughty
    (Understand?)

    What I said was a character having thoughts and motives doesn't make him real. You gave me an example of a thought and motive, which I fail to see any point in. You haven't proved me wrong, haven't made a new point, haven't even said something correct!

    And since you seem to have deviated even more from the deep characterisation point which you so graciously also got wrong, I'll repeat my point.


    Deep characterisation is something to aim for in your writing. Thus, it is a goal. Not a technique.

    Foreshadowing, euphamism, rhetoric, satire, fragments, and so on and so on. These are techniques.

    - FoY
     
  13. Max Vantage
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    Max Vantage Banned

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    No, it's called substance. Thanks for blatantly pointing out you know jack about it. Where exactly did I say you had to write and use a plethora of exposition?


    I'm curious to know who taught you how to read, because you're not exactly displaying much of it here. Refer to my very first comment on this thread to know how I feel about exposition.

    See above.


    Again, see my first comment in this thread.

    Not knowing your characters inside and out = cliche
    (Comprende?)

    Maybe I was being a bit vague in my response concerning this quote. This info dump you mention above; it's not something to include in the actual writing. I implied it as note-taking. This is the method that I use to create believable characters. Going deep into them helps me to understand my characters more than simply putting them in a situation not knowing what's in their head. If I don't know that detail then the scene becomes underwritten.
    Again, what I gave was a (very rough) example of how to create a character with substance.
     
  14. Gateship
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    Gateship Member

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    Um. Okay.

    *backs away slowly*
     

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