1. ObsidianVale
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    ObsidianVale Member

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    NO bad guy

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by ObsidianVale, Sep 30, 2009.

    Ok so i have this idea for a story. Its a fantasy but there just one little problem..... i have NO bad guy. I keep trying to think of one and im am getting nowhere. I do have plot points where for example : main characters mother hides MC in a different world and dies leaving the MC to grow up there and eventually find her way back by accident.

    now i know the mother was on the run for some reason but i have absolute no idea why.

    i just seem to go round and round in my head and nothing ever gets produced. This has been bothering me for a looong time and i am finally become sick of this stand still.

    has anyone ever experienced this before? what did you do to over come it? even if you haven't experienced it what do you recommened i do?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I know you're writing fantasy, and maybe that genre doesn't do so well without conventional hero/villain dynamics (I don't read it, so correct me if I'm wrong) but general/literary fiction does perfectly well with no conventional villain. Maybe stop thinking along the lines of good/evil, hero/villain and just see what conflicts seem to be arising in the text and see what you can make of those.

    Maybe read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader--it's the only of the Narnia books not to feature that kinda set piece battle between good and evil, and while it has heroes, the villains are more amorphous and less easily defined, so it might help to see how you can have an adventure in a fantasy world that resists the basic opposition of good/evil in battle.
     
  3. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Where is it written that fantasy automatically means the need for a villain?
     
  4. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    As I said, I'm not widely read in fantasy, but it seems that the classics in the genre and the few works I have read have very definite good vs evil conflicts, usually with quite clear-cut villains. That's not to say the characters aren't complex or badly constructed, just that the basic idea of good vs evil was always pretty evident. At least in all 4 fantasy titles on my book shelf :)
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't let what is in four books of a certain genre dictate what belongs in that genre. That would be like reading for Agatha Christie books and deciding you know what a murder mystery is. Fantasy has a very simple definition: a story with ONE element of the impossible. It says nothing about what belongs in the story.
     
  6. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    To the OP I hope your plot points are a far deal more inspired than the one you've given us because the whole mother abandoning the mc in a distant realm thing is done to death. Not that people don't like an age-old concept but if you don't have a villain, then I wonder if you have a conflict?

    A villain isn't required for conflict, but you sound like you want to write a conventional fanstasy, in which case the antagonist causes much of the conflict. So what I mean is if you are sticking with this idea, don't let your villian be cliched as well. He/she might very well be the key to your book.

    If you want to see 'villains' who don't fit the mold ( or heroes who don't fit the mold either for that matter) read A Song of Ice and Fire, the greatest fantasy series of our time:D.

    You don't need 'a villain', just villainous people.
     
  7. Spirit
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    Spirit Member

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    Try having two sides of the same story, have two people, indoctronated with different ideals, and set them against each other. none of them is any worse or better than the other, yet there is conflict, that way you can have the real villain as a concept such as religion.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I know that its not involved in the definition of fantasy, but you can't deny that it is one of the foremost conventions of the genre and is perhaps over-represented. I've read more than 4 titles (though those are the only ones I have here now), and seen dozens of 'fantasy' films, and in all that I can think of, the hero/villain dynamic is prominent, and more pronounced than in other genres I've read. So, I agree that its not necessarily a defining feature of fantasy, but I can't accept that its not one of its greatest and most used conventions. And maybe that's whats tripping up the OP, confusing something you often have for something you need to have.
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Certainly, it's a great convention in any genre, but it's not always needed, and if you can't find a way to work in a "proper" villain, then don't worry about it.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the antagonist/'villain' can be the forces of nature, not a person... or even inner conflict, the protagonist battling his/her own demons, not actual ones...

    there's no law that says every story has to have a live villain...
     
  11. wt6869
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    wt6869 New Member

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    I think you've confused a villain with conflict. You need conflict but you don't necessarily need a villain. The conflict in the story can come from the hurdles she overcomes to get back home. You can also explore the emotional conflict of the MC. Why did her mother abandon her? How does the emotional conflict shape her world view?
     
  12. stavious5
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    I think it is heavily advised that you DO have a villan in a fantasy genre novel. Let me explain why.
    It is true that conflict can occur in many forms, man vs. man, man vs. society, vs. nature, vs. fate and etc. However fantasy is an example of our real lives, only with everything exaggurated and every metaphor is given a recognizable face. That is why it is so easy to understand for many people and why it can still be relevant for our everyday lives, and thus interesting. The elves are always generically good. Though no purely good people exist with pointy ears who live in the woods, they are a social example of what could happen if people tried to live perfect lives, and often they end up difficult in unexpected manners. Just take Tolkien's books for example.
    Therefore I think that it is very important for your evil to have a face, because that is what is so extreme and exciting about fantasy, every dilemma is possible in the most outragous ways. Instead of an elderly man having a disease, it becomes a curse put on him by a wicked witch, which is a clear present villan. While in The Wizard of Oz all of the conflicts faced by the four characters are internal, the Wicked Witch of the West still personifies all of these and is present as a totally recognizable challange.
    This doesn't mean that your villan has to be cliche, as many sophisticated villans do exist in fantasy fiction, such as Dragonlance's Raistlin, or Lord of the Rings's Golem, but a face to evil is a key characterization of the fantasy genre. It doesn't have to be as black and white as the Narnia Chronicles, but it requires a profound presence nevertheless.
    In my opinion.
     
  13. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    To make a story, you don't necessarily need a physical villain, no matter what genre you decide to put it into. As long as you deem your story interesting enough without the villain, then I suggest you move on. There is never a need to write a story containing a bad guy. If you write fantasy and there is no villain, that should be just fine. In fact, it would be quite different. I don't remember reading a fantasy novel without a villain.

    However, you can write just about anything without a villain and make it work.
     
  14. yournamehere
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    I agree up to the last point. Villians aren't necessarily the easy way out. Most of the time (for me) they make the book worse.

    peace,
    -nick
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    how does that not agree?
     
  16. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've seen my share of fantasy novels that have no true villain. They are just as good as the ones that do have them.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    so have i. . . and yes, they were. . .
     
  18. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Your conflict can be...

    Man vs. man (assuming your characters are human idk)
    Man vs. nature
    Man vs. society
    Man vs. technology
    Man vs. self

    It goes on and you can have a combination of all of these. Don't just stick with man vs. man, that'll get old quick with your readers. I remember a friend telling me about the Conan books and it was a combination of all these elements.
     
  19. Lydibug
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    Lydibug New Member

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    I feel your pain! I tend to stick to fantasy, and I used to have this problem myself. This was overcome when someone said to me "Pick the character least likely to be a villian. Someone that had done something to the MC for 'Good'"
    This really worked for me, as I love writing the Evil side of stories. Try making the mother into your villian, Who knew her child would be her ultimate downfall, or who hid her child from the persecution of the public (or whatever species you are) Or even Herself, because she didn't want to corrupt her own flesh and blood, and the story is about the child's fight for justice etc...
    If this isn't floating your boat, try using saying for any character.
    If you end up using a "goodie" as the evil one, make the main character neutral, often changing sides.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    fox...
    there are really only 3 major ones:

    man vs. man
    man vs. god
    man vs. self

    and those three were all painted on their authors' walls, way, way back... everything written since, is just 'creative plagiarism'... ;-)
     
  21. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I have to disagree a little with that oversimplification...its entirely possible to have an entirely secular conflict between man and nature, and the idea of bringing god into anything at all is something that can only be decided on a person to person basis.

    The most popular list of plots says there are 7 key ones, endlessly repeated:

    1 - [wo]man vs. nature

    2 - [wo]man vs. man

    3 - [wo]man vs. the environment

    4 - [wo]man vs. machines/technology

    5 - [wo]man vs. the supernatural

    6 - [wo]man vs. self

    7 - [wo]man vs. god/religion

    If you really wanted to, you might get awaywith shrinking that list down to 5, but beyond that you're pushing things a bit too far....
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are lists of varying lengths, but as Maia says, they can all be reduced to the three she listed. If you prefer a longer list, feel free. But the essence still boils dow to those three. They represent external adversarial conflict, internal conflict, and struggle against forces with no identifiable agenda or persona.

    Two of the three do not have a bad guy, and even adversarial conflict need not label the adversary as bad. That is what is relevant to the question, not how you choose to split the follicles.
     
  23. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I was taught more in school. I draw the second category out because a. I don't like to use the word god and b. when I was first shown that I had no idea what god meant, so I assume others don't as well.
     
  24. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you find the word god uncomfortable, feel free to think of it as Man vs the Universe or Man vs Nature. Again, this is a trivial nit to pick!
     
  25. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Yeah I know, but I'm defensive and we all love nit picking :D Anyways that one always confused me and maybe my teachers felt the same way I do.
     

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