1. cavyboat
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    cavyboat New Member

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    Making humans unpopular without angering readers.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cavyboat, Mar 7, 2013.

    Most of my characters are non-human extraterrestrials. Humans repeated a lot of history when they invaded the rest of the galaxy.

    Every species has flaws and strengths. Every character is a mix of good and bad traits. Even the worst of the worst are (or believe they are) doing the wrong thing for the right reason, and the best of the best screw up at the worst times.

    I really don't want to criticize humanity, put the aliens on a pedastal, or vice-versa. Any advice on how to get the true complexity and balance of my characters and plot across to readers? It's YA science fiction. Right now I am writing scenes and seeing what my characters do, but I don't want anyone to sound or act preachy. Especially my MC, because everything is from her point of view, first-person.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Sanjuricus
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    Sanjuricus Active Member

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    Make both sides "bad" or at least seriously flawed and write from the appropriate point of view.
     
  3. mbinks89
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    mbinks89 Active Member

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    Make both sides flawed, but neither evil or treacherous. You can depict the humans as just being members of a colonialist species that they had no part contributing towards, and loving their family, and then describe an alien thinking about how much he hates how humans have invaded his planet, and all the while he's a nice guy
     
  4. blenderpie
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    blenderpie Member

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    I've read several books where humans are portrayed as stupid, impulsive, and greedy in comparison to other races. It never bothered me because humans are all of those things. As long as It's accurate, I don't think.anyone will mind.
     
  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Avatar did it well. I thought so, anyway.
     
  6. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    This is an issue I always work around because I don't like defining things as good and evil I prefer to divide them by the reasons, goals, and means to accomplish.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...no surprise!... only to be expected from the most violent/aggressive species on earth...

    ...why even worry about it?... write it as you see it and let the blame lie where it belongs... just don't get all preachy about it... treat it as a given, which it is, and make it the best story you can...

    ...bravo!... i, for one, would love to see such courageous honesty in a novel, as i'm sick and tired of excuses being made for humankind's base nature... if you need any help with this, i'm here for you...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  8. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Couldn't agree more. You can make them seem as bad as you want, but be careful to keep it believable. Everyone can imagine humans being cruel and imperialistic, but if you make it seem like they are evil just for the sake of being evil it might bother your readers.
     
  9. creative_nothings
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    creative_nothings Member

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    This thread follows along with what I am writing at the moment and I've been having the same dilema. I think the key is to make the reasons for human actions believable. In my story, humans go to war out of fear of another race and the power they hold. In doing so, they find a way to control and harness the abilities of that race and use it for their own benefit. Power is a strong motivator of many evil MC's and I'm trying to use this to my advantage.

    In any case, I say go for it. Just don't make the motivations/actions of your humans trivial (i.e. those damn aliens are ugly, lets kill them) and I think you'll be fine! :D
     
  10. Devlin Blake
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    Devlin Blake Member

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    Sounds like you're stereotyping us humans. Now, granted, as a species, we've done horrific things, to each other, other races, and probably to an alien race if given a chance. One of the reasons I hated the movie Avatar (yes, gasp,) was becasue it portrayed us humans as stereotype of ourselves.

    Humans are interested in money, that's true. We're scared of the unknown, also true. When you put a people in large groups, 'groupthink' can overwhelm our reason. But few humans are evil for the sake of being evil. If you portray them as real people who make bad choices, that should be fine.
     
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  11. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    When you look at the Persian invasion of Greece in 480 bc, what you learn at school is that the brave, noble Greeks were defeated at Thermopylae by the massive numbers of Persians invading (the Immortals, Xerxes' crack regiment outnumbered the entire Spartan army by a factor of 30).

    In fact, the Greeks were betrayed by other Greeks...something that would never have occurred with the Persians...later, Philip of Macedon "conquered" much of Greece by bribing them...honour was a curious concept to the Greeks!

    The Spartans, whom many hold in high regard (as a result of their noble self-sacrifice at Thermopylae) were largely illiterate because their youth was devoted to martial arts...and they would, famously, expose (to the luck of the elements, which generally meant death) babies that seemed less than perfect.

    The whole civilization, while being famous for democracy, was supported by masses of slaves, and Athens imposed its Empire, by force (under the pretext of being an anti-Persian league - anyone thinking Protection Racket?), on most of the Greek islands in the Aegean.

    Plenty of "bad" things to pick up on, along with all the good things about education, philosophy, art...
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'll tell you a secret: We humans are dumb animals who flip all the tables over the most minor provocation. ;) While I usually attempt to see the good in humanity, I don't ignore that we've done some seriously ****ed up things to each other and to our planet, so be honest about it. Don't whitewash humanity and depict us as godly saints just because a few humans will get a bit snippy about it. :D
     
  13. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    Lots of responses here that I'll have to read when I have more time.

    I'd check out some movies or other books. Humans are always doing bad s**t but people still make stories out of them. Take Avatar for example. Now, I realize it was overhyped and I'm not a gigantic fan of it, so whether you like it or not, watch or rewatch it as a necessary study. But humans were guilty of a lot of stuff in that movie, the least of which isn't--if I remember because it's been a while--taking over another species planet and trying to kill them off? Was that what was going on? Anyway, my point is people flocked to that movie and it made swimming pools of money. Sure, humans played both the protagonist and antagonist sides, but see what James Cameron did to figure out how to make your humans bad guys but still make the story appealing. And there are a number of other similar movies, I'm sure.
     

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