1. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78

    Is it bad to introduce this type of character in a climax?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Elder, Nov 14, 2015.

    I am writing a thriller, and have a question as to if this type of scenario is bad for the genre or not. Basically in the climax, when the hero has no hope of getting the villain and it's a dead end, in some thrillers, another character will come in and have something, whether it's an object or a piece of information, that will bring down the villain and resolve the conflict. But is it bad when stories have a minor character come in with something to resolve the conflict rather than the MC doing it, on his/her own?

    Since I am into writing screenplays, I use movies a lot for examples, if that's okay. In the movie The Departed (2006) for example:

    SPOILER AHEAD

    The hero (Leonardo Dicaprio), is hopeless in getting the villain arrested, and thinks he is going to die, at a dead end. Then just when things couldn't get any worse, the mob boss's lawyer calls him and gives him evidence to bring down the villain. This puts the hero in an advantage and gives him the upper hand, when he was at a hopeless end before.

    So if you think about it, the lawyer, who never has any screentime, and was just verbally mentioned in the climax, is the real hero of the story, since his evidence that he turns over, is what is needed to resolve the conflict. Nothing the hero does is able to, but the minor character can.

    I am wondering, when it comes to stories, is that a bad idea to do it that way? If you find that your MC is trapped and painted into a corner, is it okay for a minor character to have the answer, and show up with it, to resolve the conflict, rather than the hero, using his own brain and ability to do so?

    The movie is a best picture winner, so a lot of people obviously do not have a problem with it there, but what do you think?
     
  2. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    If you're talking about introducing a character (ie. this is the first time we ever see the character, which is what introducing means) then, yes, it's a big no-no, no matter what genre you're talking about.

    But if the character is one we've seen before, there's nothing wrong with having him/her provide the missing element that allows the MC to save the day. Swain has lots to say about this in Techniques of the Selling Writer (which a lot of people on here recommend highly). Check out what he says about climax.
     
  3. X Equestris
    Offline

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2015
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    307
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    A character coming out of nowhere like this seems a bit cheap, even borderline deus ex machina.
     
    Bjørnar Munkerud likes this.
  4. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks. In my case, I can introduce the character before no problem. In fact, he can play a bit of a role in the first act it turns out. But even so, he is still saving the day by helping the MC. In a thriller, is it less suspenseful, if the MC receives help? Especially if it's one where the MC is out for revenge because the system won't help him? Would the story be considered breaking theme, if he wants revenge, cause no system will help him, but then another character comes in with exactly what he needs?
     
  5. Akarevaar
    Offline

    Akarevaar Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2015
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Gold Coast, Australia
    The hero doesn't always have to save the day, but they should have some part in it. You should also do a good amount of foreshadowing and dropping hints to indicate that this character will have a big role later on.

    On the matter of breaking theme: that depends what the 'moral' of your story is. If the moral is that 'you should seek revenge by yourself when the system doesn't help, and you should do it on your own' then yes, it would be. If it is something more like 'revenge is not a just motive, and you should accept help from others' then no, it works out fine. What message do you actually want to give to your audience?
     
  6. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Well I think the moral I would like to give the audience is the first one, where the MC should do it himself, because he is alone, with no justice. But at the same time, it's difficult for him to strike back at a gang of villains, all by himself. The gang already knows who he is, so he is not going to get close to them it seems. Wouldn't he need an inside man to help out? I guess it becomes a matter of plot vs. theme, and which is more important. Is it it possible to keep the first theme, and somehow still give the MC inside help anyways?
     
  7. Gisella_M
    Offline

    Gisella_M Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    17
    It doesn't need to be plot vs theme. Even if he needs things from other people he can still use his own talents/ingenuity/hatred to get these things. If he needs an inside man, than maybe he could blackmail someone so they have to work for him.
     
  8. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Okay thanks for the idea. I was thinking the same thing before, but earlier in the story the MC blackmails another character into working for him. However, this character cannot serve any usefulness in the climax that I can think of, the way the story goes. But if the MC were to blackmail another character later into working for him, do you think it could come off as repetitive if I use the same plot device 'blackmail', twice and with another character?
     
  9. Gisella_M
    Offline

    Gisella_M Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    17
    It depends how you do it, as long as it is not done in the same way it should be fine. It doesn't have to be blackmail though, it could be threats of violence, bribery or appealing to his/her better nature.
     
  10. Ryan Elder
    Offline

    Ryan Elder Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2015
    Messages:
    1,613
    Likes Received:
    78
    Yeah that's true. What if the main leader villain of the gang, came to the MC himself? He knows the MC is out to kill them all so what if he can to the MC, wanting to make a deal for the others, or agree to turn in evidence on the others who wronged him, so he does not kill them all? Could the villain do this, if I set up the character that way?

    But I suppose if he were to turn in evidence to be prosecuted so the MC will not kill him, he will turn it in to the police and not the MC, likely.
     
  11. Gisella_M
    Offline

    Gisella_M Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2015
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    17
    Well with out knowing more about the story I can't really say what seems plausible for different characters. What ever option you go for though it needs to have been foreshadowed, readers will feel cheated if they feel something has been crowbarred in to just to make the story work.
     

Share This Page