1. NomNomKing123
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    NomNomKing123 New Member

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    Opinions on my MC?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by NomNomKing123, Feb 29, 2016.

    I haven't posted much on this forum, but i would love to get some feedback on my writing. Sorry if this is too long or confusing, i'll try to summarize it if that's the case.

    My WIP medieval fantasy novel is told from the points of view of three friends/allies. The king of a large and powerful land (and who i would consider the most important protagonist of the three), is who i want to talk about.

    As of now, not much backstory has gone into my character's life. He comes from a rather low class family, however at a young age he makes a name of himself by becoming friends with the king of a small but powerful archipelago. Towards the beginning of the story, a few of my MC's friends begin a rebellion against the king. Not knowing how many people were unhappy with the current king they gain a massive following and eventually win their rebellion. In the aftermath of this war my main character is elected the king of their new country and the story takes off from there.

    On the physical side, my character is described (through the other character's eyes and sometimes one-off characters used in the prologue and epilogue) as having messy brown hair and green eyes, oftentimes sporting stubble or 5 o' clock shadow, and he doesn't usually wear a lot of royal/expensive garb like a king would. In a certain scene in the later part of the story when my character is visiting another king, he remarks how my MC looks more like a peasant than a king. If it helps, i imagine my character looking somewhat like David Tennant or Tom Hardy in Mad Max: Fury Road.

    Although my main character has stated multiple times he doesn't enjoy politics or running a kingdom, he shows great skill at it. He is sometimes underestimated by other kings or noble figures, but it it also well known by many people that my character is a very powerful man. My main character soon owns the largest fleet in the known world, and he is good friends with some of the most skilled battle commanders and ship captains. He also has a large sum of money and has shown he knows how to handle it.

    Emotionally, my main character is (in my opinion) quite unique. He is very forgiving, and sometimes too forgiving. In the best way i can say it, he does not love or hate, he only likes and dislikes. He has loved very few things/people and it seems to me that he has never hated his enemies. In a confrontation between him and his traitor wife who killed a lot of people close to him, my MC couldn't bring himself to kill her, and his last words to her were "I'm sorry". My main character seems to not care THAT much about terrible things happening, and i have blamed (is blamed the right word?) his apathy on his idea of how cruel the world is. I also want to point out that he cares much for his own kingdom, i meant that things which would cause some people to grieve or get angry, my MC stays calm. (I don't want to quote Hunter S. Thompson, but this sums my MC's emotions up quite well. "He who makes a beast of himself, gets rid of the pain of being a man.")

    Opinions? Things you don't think would work? Problems you see? Comments?
    I would love to know your thoughts.
    Thanks
     
  2. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The main problem I perceive with this scenario is the idea that a man from "a low class family" would be able to rise to lead an army and win a kingdom.

    It's a bit like A Knight's Tale - and that was a comedy.

    If you take Game of Thrones, John Snow, although a bastard with (probably) a low-born mother, is adopted by Lord Eddard Stark and raised as a nobleman's son, complete with all the training in weapons-handling that a nobleman would have received - and, perhaps more significantly, the protein-rich food that the wealthy had access to. Then, when he joins the Night's Watch, he is head-and-shoulders better than all the other recruits.

    And it's a bit incredible that a nation sufficiently divided to be conquered by a jumped-up peasant and his peasant mob would soon have the largest fleet in the known world. Look at the lifetime of campaigning that a very competent duke-become-king like William the Conqueror had to put in to subdue first his duchy of Normandy, and then his kingdom of England.

    You're also making him too humble (uninterested in politics - but good at it), too forgiving, too unemotional (he has never hated his enemies), so he's incredibly bland. In fact, you've made him such a goody-goody it's hard to like him. You need to give him some weakness to give some depth to his character.
     
  3. Mars
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    Mars New Member

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    He seems too overpowered (ending up King without even wanting it, and still being incredibly powerful), unrealistically down-to-earth (imagine the president or the prime minister wearing jeans or short whenever they felt like it -- it's unprofessional and the common people wouldn't like it), and too nice (letting his traitor wife doesn't sound like forgiveness to me, it sounds like naivety).

    He doesn't sound like a realistic person.
     
  4. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    George Washington was asked to be king of the United States but refused. When the office of President was created he reluctantly accepted his election. You could do worse than to model some of you king character after him. GW was, however, not a peasant. Like many in his time he gained and lost fortunes but ultimately was a man of some wealth. Your MC need not be a peasant to be a man of the people. GW was also conflicted about slavery; though he owned slaves he set them free upon his death.

    I'm a bit fond of GW as I found he is a distant relative through marriage but he is a fascinating historical figure beyond that. Certainly king-worthy.
     
  5. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Something to remember - For the vast majority of history power has been wielded by some form of aristocracy. Washington along with all the founding fathers were very much a part of this monied, landed political class. The American founders certainly had far better intentions than most but even their commitment to liberty wasn't able to eliminate the idea of a political class. It wasn't a true aristocracy anymore and that at least is a step up but money and power tends to accumulate around those who already have it rather than with people who don't. Every revolutionary leader is reputed to have been reluctant to take up the reigns of their country (seriously; I've heard that said about Lenin and Trotsky, Castro, Che Guevara, Oliver Cromwell and Citizen Robespierre). That doesn't make it not true of course; I dare say when you see your friends murdered over ideology you probably aren't keen to become the monster you just killed; but equally if you thought you were right then you hopefully believe you could do a better job than the other lot.

    Anyway -

    I would shy away from the 'King from the lower classes' stuff in favor of 'scion of a lost aristocratic house'. I know you want your hero to be an every man but without some reason for people to congregate around him it's hard to see why he particularly should be in charge. If he has some historical claim to the throne, one that both his soldiers and his opponents can understand; then it's natural why people should look to him as a leader, it's natural that enemies of the regime would seek him out. That's someone who could convince people to die for him; who could forge an army and beat the regime. But just some dude who's mad as hell and not going to take it any more? That is a guy who is going to be dead in a muddy (soon to be bloody) puddle because no-one stands up and follows him.

    Secondly; I hate to refer you to that big list of revolutionaries but the one single thing that every successful revolutionary shares is ruthlessness. Remember what a revolutionary is; someone who is using violence and murder to back up their point of view. In the world of fantasy you can make the bad guy genuinely, unarguably evil, but even then the revolutionaries who fight Mecha-Hitler will have to have the killer instinct. They have to have it in them to bring a gun to a knife fight and send one of theirs to the morgue; otherwise the Space Nazis are going to win. No matter how good your intentions there's going to be civilians killed, children starving, all kinds of nasty stuff because you started your war right next to their home. You can't do that if you are a famously temperate person.

    In Che Guevara's diary while fighting in Cuba he writes about personally shooting one of his own men for betraying the revolution in the same tone as he describes his asthma playing up (I swear that's true). That's the kind of person who wins a revolution. If your guy can't do that he isn't going to win anything. If he doesn't have it in him to kill someone who lied to him, betrayed him and murdered his friends then he is not a revolutionary leader. If he cannot kill someone who manifestly deserves it how is he going to kill some dude in an ill fitting helmet who joined up to help his mam make ends meet.

    He's got to have killer instinct. If he doesn't then someone who does is going to kill him and take over the revolution.
     
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  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry too much about the common man becoming king. That has a long history in fantasy, going back to the venerable Conan the Barbarian. Fantasy readers are fine with it, and there's no reason succession or social mobility in a fantasy world has to be the same as what it was historically in the real world.

    I do agree that if the nation is as powerful as you say it is going to take a lot of work to write a convincing takeover of the country by your MC and his followers. That's the sort of thing that would take a long time, a lot of money, political backing, and the like. If it were a relatively small, inconsequential country it would be easier to put a more convincing takeover together. Nevertheless, I think it can work, it's just a matter of setting it all up in a realistic way that the reader can buy into.
     
  7. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    Someone mentioned this already, but your character needs some flaws. He is far too perfect. Your audience is not going to sympathize with him if they don't see any flaws in him, because we're all human, and no human is flawless. Also, beware of "flaws" that are "too good," if that makes sense, because I noticed a few of those in your description. For example, being "too trusting" isn't a real flaw. Instead, make the character trust all the wrong people but be distrustful of people that he should trust, or something. Or the character doesn't usually hold grudges, except for this one that consumes him...and so on. In order for this character to pull off being this perfect, he needs one heck of a flaw!

    Overall I like the character idea, I think you just need to think outside the box and mix it up a little and you could turn a decent idea into a fantastic one. I hope your story turns out! :)
     
  8. LostThePlot
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    LostThePlot Contributing Member

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    Of course it can work, it's just a bit tortured and just tiny little changes can make it fit better. The important thing here is legitimacy.

    If the revolution doesn't have a figure head with a claim to the throne then just killing the present king doesn't get them anywhere; a new king somewhere else is now the legitimate ruler and the revolutionaries can't really argue with that. That's how inheritance works. You aren't going to convince a serf-farmer that if I kill him I get to keep his wife and his land instead of going to jail, even if he's a jerk. This is exactly why during feudal times revolution always centered around someone with a tie to the throne, even if that went back hundreds of years, because (after pressing his claim) that person could simply step into the vacant space and take over the existing power structure. Once in the nobles have to respect him and pay their taxes and things go back to normal.

    Without a legitimate claim on the throne those power structures simply are not going to see why they should support you and without those structures you can't rule a whole lot of anything. You are going to have to kill a lot of people after the revolution to remove the old structures and create your own. Your nobles, upon whom your power ultimately rests (since they raise the army you exert authority through) are likely to immediately try to break away or usurp you; after all you have just proven their historic claims to title and property are in jeopardy. You are actively dangerous to them and their families. How can they not fight against you?

    The point here really is this - If you don't have a claim to the throne why bother trying to put yourself on it? The crown doesn't give you authority if you are a treasonous usurper. This is why Cromwell and Washington didn't let themselves become kings; it simply did not benefit them to do so. A far better option is to make a new title and a new government. You're already tearing down the structures of power, already killing a good chunk of the nobility; you've done the hard work so why just install another autocratic, feudal regime? Why not create a parliament?

    TL DR version:

    If you want your guy to be successful as a king he needs to give the nobles (who are his only way of exerting power) a reason to accept him as their ruler so you can't just be a popular peasant.
    If you are going to remove those noble anyway then why do you care about being a king?
     

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