1. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    Overpowered characters unacceptable at all times?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kita, Jul 10, 2013.

    I have a story in mind which is something along the lines of the Christian apocalypse. Replacing the horsemen are four demons that each control one of humanities darker emotions. They are Fear, Pain, Hatred and Ruin. Each one more powerful than its predecessor but they will not be the main characters of the story. It will be more centred around humans fighting back in vain.

    I intend for this story to end with the world in ruins and humanity wiped out so I have made the four demons far superior to anything the remnants of humanity can muster though I have questioned whether this is wise. Should they have some weakness to allow the humans a glimmer of hope?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There needs to be something to give room for the human characters to show what it is you want to say in this story. If there is zero hope and it's just a portrayal of how the last humans on earth die, then there's little point in reading it. That's a written version of a snuff film.
     
  3. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    Possibly talk of a safe haven? Maybe their salvation lies with eliminating the emotion that each demon manifests or a way to contain them?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm trying to picture what the struggle is in this story. Evil comes, wipes out humans.

    Do they almost win but fail in the end? Do they fail because as the story progresses the humans turn out to be more evil than the evil? (That might be interesting.) Anyway, what might be missing is the story. The outcome is not a problem.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Ok...

    I would ditch the first idea. Done to, done to, done to death! Every zombie film has a "safe zone" or a "plague free zone".

    But...

    I like the second idea muchly! :D It's a great way to say something about the human condition. Each of the 4 demons is a negative human emotion, right? Their need to eliminate/control/subsume/deal with/manage, etc. that given emotion is a great venue for talking about how people handle those emotions in real life. ;)
     
  6. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    I think I shall go with that idea. It could work quite well and that was always my purpose for writing it. I had intended for the demons to be present since the dawn of man but never fully manifested. For example, Fear manifested in things like spiders, sharks and snakes. Pain manifested in torture devices and cruelty in peoples hearts. Hatred was hidden in weapons and in the hearts of men. Ruin is the cause of empires crumbling and companies falling into ruin.
     
  7. Aeschylus
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    Aeschylus Contributing Member

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    It really depends what kind of story you're trying to write. If the plot centers around action and your story is filled with fight scenes where you know the heroes can't win in any way ever then it's hard to keep the suspense of the reader. On the other hand, if you're writing a character story and the action centers not around the battles themselves but the psychological impact this has on the survivors, then having invincible, all-powerful antagonists could create fascinating, existentialist drama. That's the kind of story I'd make it, but that's just me.

    Same thing with overpowered protagonists - in an action movie, it's boring to watch if the protagonists are so overpowered there's never any challenge. But if you're writing about the psychological and moral ramifications that power has on the main characters and their enemies, it can be fascinating - case in point, the movie Chronicle.
     
  8. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think, personally, that giving humans a glimmer of hope throughout the story would be necessary. They can still get wiped out at the end, but the reader shouldn't be able to deduce that earlier on. Let them win a few battles but lose the war.
     
  9. Macaberz
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    Macaberz Pay it forward Contributor

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    I think the question is malformed. Yes, overpowered characters are unacceptable because they are precisely that, overpowered. Its a different thing entirely to have very powerful characters, as long as those characters are still faced with challenges and obstacles. Just know that one of the central values of writing that keeps a reader going is conflict. If you have very powerful characters that can overcome almost anything, then there is no conflict. Without conflict there is hardly any progress and without progress your readers will get bored.

    Also realize that having powerful characters can limit the amount of dramatic impact you can have. If your character can cause an mushroom cloud explosion then you will soon hit the wall on topping that off. Death and destruction become absolutely meaningless in such a context. Personally, I like flawed characters much more, though I do recommend that your characters have a particular skill at which they are very good. But once again, overpowering your characters, whilst not undoable, will send you crashing into all kinds of walls and limits. It is the flawed characters that you can have the most fun with and that give you the most liberty, in the end.
     
  10. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    I once read a book by Brad Thor where the bad guys were too good. They didn't have super natural abilities, but they were always one step ahead of the main character right up until the end. I found it insanely aggravating. Food for thought
     
  11. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    There is one thing I forgot to mention about this. With the exception of Ruin, each demon has minions that do most of the work for them. Fear controls things live giant sharks and spiders. Pain has a legion of demons who wear executioner masks and like drawing out their victims demise. Hatred has an army of skull faced warriors who use weapons that range from swords to rifles.

    These will be most frequently encountered by the human resistance so the demons take more of a back seat role in things.

    I should also apologise for responding a little late, I hadn't checked back on this thread in a while.
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Considering your story sounds rather deep, I'd say these symbolic things you mention above might actually serve to cheapen your story - it's too obvious. Also, it doesn't always work - spiders, sharks and snakes don't scare everyone. If you're talking about the human condition, it should be something more universal, surely? I'd also be wary about demonising wildlife.

    If you're talking about Christian symbolism - I'm surprised you have chosen Ruin above Pride. God hates pride above all, and it is usually pride that ruins us. As for fear, more often than not, it's the fear of the unknown, of the alien, of the "other" that drives much of our hatred. The more you understand something, the less you fear it.

    I'm also surprised you hadn't tapped into the idea of Rebellion - much of God's wrath was poured out all because of Israel's disobedience - a mixture of pride and lack of faith in God.

    And your story has a loop hole - Pain is not always bad. What if I am in pain because I have compassion for the suffering of others? Pain, overall, serves to protect - it is why it's such a tragic thing when lepers lose their ability to feel pain, thereby causing them to not know when they've hurt themselves and then losing their fingers and limbs. It is the LACK of pain that causes their eventual suffering. Pain was the thing that protected them.

    Lastly, be careful your characters don't turn into caricatures. That's the trap of many Christian novels - they're so busy trying to convey messages and make everything into a symbol of the Ultimate Truth that the characters become 2D cardboard figures and the whole thing becomes a joke. The best thing you can do is to write this like any other story with realistic characters - because realistic characters will have their own flaws, their mixed motives, their warped intentions, their deeds of evil done with an intention to actually do good or evil deeds done under the illusion that it's love, mistaking sweet water for bitter and bitter water for sweet.

    All the best to you anyway.
     
  13. Kita
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    Kita Senior Member

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    This is not by any stretch of the imagination a Christian novel. I used it as a comparison as the four horsemen where my inspiration for it.

    Pain doesn't represent emotional or accidental pain, he's more towards pain from devices of torture or other nasty things that inflict needless pain.

    Although I do agree with you on Fear, I may switch this to grotesque demons and deformed shadows. I had intended to explain them having partially manifested in reality for millions of years through things that cause what they represent so animals that people commonly feared seemed the easiest to write for him. That I think shall be changed to nightmares and the creatures that dwell within them.
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oooh that sounds like it'd be very interesting! Definitely do that! :D
     

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