1. Weston13
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    Weston13 Member

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    Question: My Antagonist

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Weston13, Jun 7, 2008.

    I have a question regarding one of the antagonists of my story.

    First, a summarized background/history on the character [this is not set in stone]: His name is Ilhan Kaveh, he suffers from mania, paranoia, and a hint of schizophrenia. Childhood events had a great and detrimental impact on how he lives now. His mother died when he was only six. After that, he was neglected, and later on abused by his father, having been locked in a large chest for several hours on more than one occasion. At the time, his father was an influential court advisor to the king of Mahrakam (a sort of Eurasian country, like Turkey). Over the years, Ilhan grew mentally unstable and, obviously, grew to fear and loathe his father. Ilhan distanced himself but remained in the city and due to the symptoms of his developing mental illness, acting on impulse and delusions of grandeur, he staged a coup on his father and the court itself. In this, he managed to kill his father, other members of court, several members of the royal family, and the king himself. From there, Ilhan usurped the throne.

    Present day [34 years later]: Now in his early sixties, Ilhan still holds the throne. His symptoms have worsened. His paranoia has been the cause of death for several advisors in his court. He rules in an absolute monarchy, but has advisors for his frequent lack of good judgment. That certain lack of judgment has him currently igniting a war which he cannot hope to win. And his severe bouts of paranoia has a mercenary group scouring the surrounding regions, locating and killing off any descendants of the former dynasty. Even with all this on his plate, he is often very deliberate when his thoughts become actions. It takes a great deal of persuasion and medicinal treatment to calm his impulses.

    Now to my question. I'm having difficulty determining how to portray this character to potential readers. I know most will probably say: "write him the way you want to". But I can't decide if I want him to be pitied, or perhaps frightening in his unpredictability, or maybe even have him as a little of both.

    So what I'm asking you guys, as potential readers, how should I portray this character to the greatest effect? If I can, in fact, write a character such as this well enough to be believable.

    I'm open to any suggestions/opinions.

    ps. Sorry if it's vague in places. I haven't been to sleep in 24 hrs and you could say I'm a wee bit tired. :)
     
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  2. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    I say, portay him as a human. A lot of writers make the mistake of classifying their characters, but how can the reader identify with them if they're two-dimensional? Haven't you ever known someone whom you hated yet pitied yet loved? Your character sounds extremely well-developed because you have worked out the backstory and how he responded to it, and I think that with a deep character like this, your best bet would be to write him as a real person. I don't know about other readers, but I would certainly love it if a book tore me from place to place, making me love the character at one point and hate him at another. These are emotions real people go through, and it will make your character more real. When he is being abused, make him be pitied. When he is beign foolished, make readers hate him despite his condition - some things cannot be excused. Good luck! Your book sounds very good :)
     
  3. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    Wow - this character sounds very promising!
    As Miswrite suggested, portray him as human - someone we can love, hate and pity. Show us flashes of him acting NORMALLY, too - flashes of what he'd have been like had he not been through so much trauma in his life.
     
  4. Smithy
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    Smithy Senior Member

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    Don't overdo the Love or Pity though, or he won't be convincing as an antagonist and everyone will hate your protagonist for picking on this nice guy with problems.
     
  5. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    I agree with Smithy, overdoing it would be bad. I like realistic villains, though - I believe no one is all bad, and developing your antagonist realistically can present a believable conflict for the protagonist, who can also go along with the readers on the rollercoaster ride of "Do I hate him? Do I like him? Do I pity him?" ect.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I believe the best antagonist is someone you can identify with, someone you might even like "if only." I don'treally believe in good and evil, even though there are a very few people I would rather erase from existence.

    You can love the character, but hate his or her actions and beliefs.
     
  7. Weston13
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    Weston13 Member

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    Thank you all for the great advice and responses! :) I wasn't sure how people would react to this character.

    I thought about it and I don't know how it escaped me. He's not a monster, and he's certainly not evil. He's just human. So thank you, Miswrite.
    I plan to introduce and show his character through his personal confidant/attendant. Throughout the story, there'll be tidbits of his humanity shared. Fears, doubts, regrets, aspirations, just everything that makes a human, a human. The jury's still out on whether or not Ilhan will have his own perspective at some point.

    Lucy - Thank you for bringing this up. I somehow forgot about that part. There will be some semblance of normality in his behavior throughout the story. Some days, it might be sudden, and on rare occasions he'll have an entire day without incident.

    Smithy - Love and pity will only go so far with this character. One of his objectives, as I said earlier, is to have a family of the former dynasty killed which includes children. There will come a time when the protagonist(s) has to decide and make a choice between two 'evils'.

    Cogito - I don't put much stock in good and evil, either. I believe in people taking responsibility for their actions whether they're of good or bad intentions.

    So once again, thank you all! You've been very helpful! :D
     
  8. chad.sims2
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    chad.sims2 Contributing Member

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    Ok i'm a bit late to this post but i'd like to agree with the statments that this charicter sounds exstremly interesting, and i'd like to say that he sounds like a charicter that you Hate to hate if you know what i'm saying. His father you'll hate but him you'll hate in a different way, the king you'll hate but not want to have to hate him kind of thing. Well if that made any sence, thats all i have to say.
     
  9. Aurora_Black
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    Aurora_Black Contributing Member

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    Agreed, sounds like he can have some serious potential in the story. Evil!
     
  10. seantrott
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    seantrott Member

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    I like the character, it seems that you have a very good development plan! I always enjoy antagonists that are not always all bad.

    However, as some said above, be careful not to make your antagonist TOO likeable. I mean, I don't know the plotline of your story, but if you want your readers to be rooting for the good guy, don't make them have a hard time choosing who they want to win.

    Also, the abused past seems a little cliché, but that's just me. And that's of course hypocritical of me to claim since I often rely on that as well. And if it's important to the backstory (which is obviously is) then it's fine.

    The only problem is that right now he seems too much like a main character pro/antagonist, someone that keeps making mistakes but the audience is rooting for anyway. I'm sorry if I simply interpreted the situation wrong, but if I were you, I would attempt to make him pitiable, hateable, but never too likeable. Misunderstood, perhaps, but never the good guy. That, to me, is a pretty good antagonist. As an anti-hero, he mainly needs to stand for everything that the hero is not, even if they are both good people according to their upbringing.
     
  11. Weston13
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    Weston13 Member

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    I understand where you're coming from. I know I feel that the abusive past is a bit of a cliche, as well. I might go with something deeper, but that has yet to be decided. I agree, I don't want him to be too likeable but I see him as one of the more eccentric antagonists compared to the others. His actions define who he is behind the mask. He's very goal-oriented and determined, so believe me when he's not being pitied, or possibly even liked, [potential] readers are going to hate him.
    Most of the story centers around a war and civil unrest, but in the background, one of the main characters (a 12yr old girl) is threatened because she's one of the surviving heirs to the throne. And because of his paranoia, he thinks people are conspiring against him (which they are) so he's actively trying to have this family 'offed', at all costs.

    George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire had quite a bit of influence on me, if you hadn't noticed.
     

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