1. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Preventing people from liking my villain.

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by stormcat, Aug 25, 2014.

    In most works of fiction, there are villains who we admit are evil, but you can't help but like them. Loki from the Avengers, Jim Moriarity from Sherlock, Azula from Avatar: the Last Airbender. We admire them instead of being repulsed by them. I'm trying to make sure nobody (or as few people as possible) likes my villain.

    He's Based off of Twilight's Edward Cullen, So while he is very pretty (no sparkles this time) he is a controlling, obsessive, physically mentally and verbally abusive, manipulative stalker. This villain is my way of dealing with my sheer hatred of Twilight and everything that went into it's unholy creation. It will have all been for nought if the majority of people like my villain. He needs to be a complete and total monster.

    Over the corse of my story, he does the following things:

    - Run an "Institute" based off the magdalene laundries, where he regularly abuses the workers there
    - Takes an interest in my MC and makes it his goal to "tame" her as if she were a wild animal
    - Abuses his fiance with regular beatings, and often ties her up to prevent her from "hurting herself"
    - Psychically abuses my MC, such powers include the ability to send swarms of rats into her house, make my MC suffer disturbing hallucinations, and in general scaring her.
    - Shoots and kills an innocent little boy and mortally wounds the boy's father
    - tries to burn down my MC's house, with her still in it

    Is this enough to make people be repulsed by this character?
     
  2. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    ...you uh...don't think you might be...overdoing it? Like, just a little?
     
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  3. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    I did say He needs to be a complete and total monster. Then again, maybe I should stop his actions at some point to keep him from breaking the scale and making him look silly.
     
  4. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I would say tone it down a little bit, unless this is Baron Harkonnen.
     
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  5. yagr
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    yagr Contributing Member

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    I do believe that everyone has good and bad in them. The presence of one therefore, indicates the potential of the other. That said, on either side of the spectrum - monsters and saints, you have rather one dimensional characters. Despite the fact that as a society we like to label people as sociopaths, they are quite rare. Even amongst those who truly qualify, if you look long enough, you can usually find some aspect of their life in which they are kind.

    i.e. I know a fellow who would have no problems torturing me (or you) to death; the fact that he hasn't is simply a lack of motive or opportunity. Hurt his cat though, even if by accident, and be prepared to find out how depraved he can be. Perhaps your villain could have an affinity for rats, spiders or snakes...something that makes him more complex emotionally, but still a turn off to your average reader.
     
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  6. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    what is the point of your story? is it simply a narrative to illustrate how bad this guy is? or is it about the main character's interactions with the villain, and how the MC escapes the villain's influence? (I'm assuming it's not about "redeeming the villain," heh) if it's the latter, I'd say that rather than going overboard with "LOOK WHAT A MONSTER HE IS" stuff, make him surface-appealing. if he already looks like Mister Sparkly Adonis Cupcake, he's got the looks, but does he have the skills to make people like him even while he's doing horrible things to him?

    I would strongly recommend looking at the development of the title character in the current Hannibal TV series. he's reasonably attractive, charming, impeccably tasteful, brilliant, has a great sense of humor, and basically everybody likes him. he's also, well, y'know--Hannibal Lecter. and the show does an amazingly good job of balancing his surface likeability while also showing that he is a complete monster. some fans do root for him, and it's hard not to feel at least a little sympathy for him, but as the show goes on you can't help realizing just how dangerously unpredictable and plain old backstabbingly evil he really is, no matter how much you may want to like him.

    making your villain completely villainous with no real reason, loading him with terrible acts and characteristics, will make him--not just unlikeable, but unrealistic and unengaging. let him be a fully rounded character--and then give him a completely unambiguous kick the dog moment. he only has to cross the moral event horizon once.
     
  7. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm warming to him. I think he's just misunderstood. o_O
     
  8. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    He's supposed to serve as a test of character to my MC. He's trying to break her down, but MC will not be broken. He actually plays a very small role in the overarching story (Think Umbridge from Harry Potter. Little to do with the big story, but we hate her all the same.)

    So anyway, which of the acts goes overboard? I want the moral event horizon to be when he kills the kid, but am I crossing it too soon?
     
  9. elynne
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    elynne Active Member

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    hmm. more context helps make more sense of the character, rather than just a list of bad stuff he does, so I can see how the things you list can all fit into the narrative. is the villain's fiancee necessary to the plot? if not, I'd either remove her entirely or have him just marrying her for money/influence, and basically ignoring her and shutting her down in public and private, rather than physically abusing and restraining her. (also--if this is set in Victorian times, as I'm guessing from the "institution," he most likely wouldn't be living with his fiancee and wouldn't be able to get away with beating and restraining her, at least until after they were married.)

    it really comes down to the pacing, and the detailing of how he's abusing and exploiting the workers in his "institution," for example. rather than having him standing there with a whip going "AHAHAHAA" while he beats them senseless and then throws them into cells with nothing but a crust of bread, have him do something really insidiously horrible--he finds out one of the inmates is surreptitiously feeding a stray cat; he has the cat killed, and gives the inmate a lecture about not letting "disease-carrying animals" hang around the property. on the other hand, maybe not; for a lot of people, hurting/killing an animal is the moral event horizon, and that might detract from the impact of the scene you have planned later. hmm... have him find out that two of the inmates have developed a close friendship/relationship, and break them up, possibly putting one (the weaker/more vulnerable one) in solitary confinement, or sending them off somewhere else? have him search the inmates' rooms and confiscate any personal items that they're attached to, destroying things they've made themselves in front of them? heh, I wrote you might be overdoing it and then provide a laundry list of possibilities for dragging him further down...

    it sounds like it's going to be a balancing act, and you won't really know whether you've overdone it or not done enough until the story's together and you get another reader to look it over.
     
  10. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Well then, rather than stopping the cruelty, what are some traits I could add to make him more well-rounded?
     
  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Well for a start we don't know why he does any of the things that he does. His actions only make sense if you understand his reasoning.

    Does he tie up his fiancée because he's afraid she'll leave him? Does he burn a house down because he can only get hard when he sees fire? Does he kill a child because the child represents (to him) innocence that he abhors?

    The easiest motivator for all of his evil deeds is fear, because your reader can relate to fear. There are things that all of us have done in the grips of fear that we regret. This provides a path for the reader to commiserate in the smallest way with your antagonist, and that's the start of a well rounded character.

    [EDIT: @outsider did the work of scrounging up that accent in fiancée so I capitalized on it, to make my shit look better.]
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  12. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't let it go any longer, if it's a female then it's fiancée.
    :mad:
    Edit: :rofl:
    Sorry, shit like that pisses me off.
    Some call it sad, I say it's dedication to the craft.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
  13. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    One of the most vile characters I have ever read I ABSOLUTElY LOVED! I loved him for his evilness. I loved him because I wanted to decapitate him every time I read his passages. Which head I wanted to remove I will leave to your imagination. He had no redeeming factors for many books. Prime evil, and yet...so believable that if I were to run into someone with his characteristics I would run like a bat out of hell.

    We love these characters because they encompass that which we, as functioning members of society, dare not attempt ourselves.

    Don't be afraid of people liking your character.
     
  14. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    What about desire for power? He ties up his fiancée because he can. He burns down the house because he sees no other way to "Tame" my MC other than kill her. He kills the child because he was in his way. Is there some psychological disorder that makes people want to control every detail in their lives?
     
  15. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any character that is all good or all bad will come across as a terrible cliche. There are no absolutes in life. Also, basing a character off another famous character you loathe, and then trying to make that character come across as an all-baddie monster is actually author insertion, and judging by the intensity of hatred you have for this character, you risk mouthing off your opinions and frustrations through your character's words, which never translates into good fiction. Readers can spot a 'lecture' from a mile away.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2014
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  16. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just one small question: why???

    Fictional stories have only ever been more enjoyable to me when I could sympathize with the villain. One of the best experiences fiction has to offer is the experience of rooting for two sides that happen to be against each other.
     
  17. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Why does he want power so badly? Was he powerless as a child? Did something horrible happen to him that made him swear that he would never be powerless again? Are you trying to cop out of character development by writing this all off as a mental illness?

    He has reasons. It's up to you to figure them out.
     
  18. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Simply put, I don't want fans of my work to ship him with anyone.
     
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  19. stormcat
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    stormcat Active Member

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    Then what do you suggest I add to separate him from his sparkly forefather? I've already changed his name, family history, species, character history, occupation and abilities.
     
  20. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would take the inspiration you had with the Twilight character as just the first step. Take some time to get to know him. You need to cosy up to him if you're going to portray him in a meaningful way. Where was he born? Who were his parents? What was his school life like? When did he have his first love? Relationship? Try to get to imagine him from the moment he was born to the moment you want to describe him as a monster.

    These things don't come easy, especially if we loathe the character and don't want to get to know him. But unless we know him, how will we enable the reader to know him? It's impossible to write someone we purely hate, well. There has to be something that appeals to you as a writer, even if it is his deliciously unrepentant, evil ways. Having such a strong motivation for a character is always a good sign, that you embarked on a story or a theme that is meaningful to you. There's a really good article on The Editor's Blog about how to avoid some of these pitfalls
    http://theeditorsblog.net/2011/12/13/weed-out-author-intrusion/
     
  21. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I see your point, but that is just tempting fate, if the amount of slashfics with Voldemort is any indication. :p
     
  22. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I've got some bad news: no matter how morally disgusting you'll make him, someone, somewhere is still going to ship him with another character. There's probably an internet rule for that. Even if you made this guy 100% evil, so evil that even Hitler would pale with terror, someone's going to make up a sob story that explains this guy's evilness because we like to have villains who have justifications for their actions. :p :D

    Point is, if all this is just so you won't have your fans ship your villain with your protagonist, you're fighting a losing battle, friend.
     
  23. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    You do not have control over your fans emotions, likes or dislikes. Write your story and let it live it's own life.
     
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  24. DromedaryLights
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    DromedaryLights Active Member

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    Just say that he was responsible for canceling Firefly. Problem solved.
     
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  25. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Arrested Development too.
     

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