?

Should there be a developed romance between two antagonists who get defeated by the hero

  1. Yes, it humanizes and develops the antagonist more.

    84.2%
  2. No, the reader struggles with investing with certain characters.

    5.3%
  3. Maybe, under certain circumstances where at least one of them turns good.

    10.5%
  1. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12

    Romance between two antagonists

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Xerclipse, Apr 2, 2016.

    In my story in progress, I have a hero that is pursuing a quest, but I also wanted to develop a romance between the main two antagonists.

    When I mean developing a romance, I mean like they meet each other the first time, slowly get closer, and become a couple. Is there a point in writing romance between the main antagonists if the hero is suppose to defeat them (even if they both are doomed to fail when the hero wins and they lose)? If so, how should the reader/viewer care about the two romantic antagonists if they work together to defeat the hero.

    I've seen two heroes fall in love with each other a lot, but rarely two antagonists in love. Since that is uncommon, is the reason behind that because readers would struggle feeling invested in them?
     
  2. Ziggy.
    Offline

    Ziggy. Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    65
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    You make the moon our mirrorball.
    To be honest, to show two human characters falling in love only to be antagonists is a good thing. It humanises the antagonists and can add weight if done properly. If they fall in love and have to fight the hero, their overreaching goal must outweigh their need to love each other. I think it's a little different but if you do this right, it can add emotional weight to the antagonists in a way that doesn't bog the reader down with the whole romance aspect.
     
    LinnyV, Simpson17866 and Oscar Leigh like this.
  3. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,418
    Likes Received:
    1,980
    Location:
    Australia
    Absolutely, do it. There's little more refreshing in fiction than seeing antagonists get to be more than that. To have their own story, in which they're the protagonist. See things from their side. Please do this!!
     
    christinacantwrite likes this.
  4. halisme
    Offline

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2015
    Messages:
    1,082
    Likes Received:
    685
    If it fits in their character, yes, why shouldn't they? Considering that the whole idea of "love redeems" has been done to death, buried, dug up and electrified, having a twist on it makes sense.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  5. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12
    You got a point there. Especially at Avatar the Last Airbender (which I just rewatched). The love between Mai and Zuko makes sense with the story even though love redeems.

    The point with my story is that they are both victims of the same war as their backstory. They both got scars and trauma from their past. Yet they fall in love because they can relate, and they work together to take down the hero. So love won't redeem them. In fact they cling too much onto their past and it causes their downfall. Problem is, would readers/viewers be willing to invest time with the doomed couple?
     
  6. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,418
    Likes Received:
    1,980
    Location:
    Australia
    Yep. As long as there's enough to become invested, and it''s done effectively, they will eagerly do so.
     
  7. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12
    You mean, like if I show them progressively falling in love with each other.... instead of just introducing them as a couple from the start?
     
  8. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,418
    Likes Received:
    1,980
    Location:
    Australia
    Mmm, you could do both. But the former probably has more allure because you can see it develop which generally increases the sense of romance because there's the action of romancing.
     
  9. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops
    I noticed that you said "defeat" rather than "kill." Even if they fail at their original goal, their romance may still lead them to a happy ending so long as they both survive. For instance, you could create a situation where one has to choose between his goal and the other's life, and he picks the other because she's now more important to him than the goal.
     
    LinnyV, Simpson17866 and Oscar Leigh like this.
  10. Callista Reina
    Offline

    Callista Reina Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    22
    I think the idea of having two antagonists fall in love is interesting because it is rarely done. I feel like the investment your readers have in their relationship might depend on how likeable your antagonists are. Personally, I am not sure how I would feel about investing in a romance between antagonists if they are highly unlikeable characters because I feel like it might be an uncomfortable reading experience in which I hate the characters (not because they are done poorly, but because I am supposed to), but then am enticed into seeing their softer side when I don't want to. But maybe you want your readers to feel this way, in which case, you could possibly create some complex characters as well as some complex emotional responses from your audience, which could be cool. Also, I do not know if your antagonists are inherently evil or if they are a mixture of light and dark qualities with dark backgrounds. In either case, their romance could probably be done well, but if your characters are the latter, their doomed romance could be really poignant and definitely something I think readers would be wiling to invest in. I say, if you want to go for it, you should. I don't see how it could hurt to try. :)
     
  11. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12
    what if the instance was to "kill"?
     
  12. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12
    I guess I should have given more information: I won't give names here but I'll call them something.

    Male antagonist: He was a soldier protecting a refugee camp. The opposing side wanted to take control of it. Unfortunately his side surrendered the camp to the opposing side. That caused the slaughter of the civilians which drove him insane. He was the only survivor of the camp which came with many scars on his face. Therefore he has become much more ruthless and broken down.

    Female antagonist: Similar to the bombing of Japan at WWII. She lost her arm and eye due to the destruction of her planet at a young age.

    How they come to romance: They work for the new central government, and they meet each other. They both have scars from the same war so they can relate. As they progress they begin to work together and create bigger obstacles for the hero.

    The point is that they are traumatized from the same war. Seems like there could be line I should draw before I humanize them too much. They knowingly serve a corrupt government doing evil things.
     
    Feo Takahari and Callista Reina like this.
  13. Callista Reina
    Offline

    Callista Reina Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2016
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    22
    Huh, that's pretty cool sounding. I like how you are developing the characters based off of traumatic past experiences. I think this development already begins to humanize them, so it might be interesting and natural to continue humanizing them with a romance. It sounds to me like both have gone through something so terrible that perhaps they have lost their faith in "the good side" and maybe now see their way of life as just. Either way, they don't sound inherently evil and I think maybe their doomed romance could mess with your readers hearts and minds in some pretty good ways. After all, what is literature if it doesn't make you question the world around you and your own beliefs? It's always interesting to explore the complexity of light and dark within characters. Good luck!
     
    LinnyV and Feo Takahari like this.
  14. Feo Takahari
    Offline

    Feo Takahari Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2016
    Messages:
    291
    Likes Received:
    270
    Location:
    Just above the treetops
    From the way you're describing these characters, I think I'd be a bit disappointed if their send-off was "They're dead. Too bad, so sad!" It doesn't seem like killing them is the only way to deal with them. (Then again, I don't do much in the way of body counts.)
     
    LinnyV likes this.
  15. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12
    Hmmm well that's gonna be a really tough decision. Now it sounds like I'm playing with fire. But that's typical when it comes to killing off loved characters even though he/she was an antagonist. That's how Death Note ended, but the antagonist did nothing evil at all... it was really the protagonist! I can totally relate to "He's dead. Too bad, so sad!"

    It had just occured to me... if I am going to humanize my romantic antagonists.... maybe I should make them do really evil things! I gotta balance it out. These are people serving a fascist government that kidnaps people for gods sake. I shouldn't make viewers forget that either. But viewers shouldn't forget that they are human either.
     
  16. LinnyV
    Offline

    LinnyV Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2015
    Messages:
    690
    Likes Received:
    991
    Two antagonist in love is something that I feel I've seen in movies but it's not really done in traditional romance novels that I've read.

    Maybe it's about time and concentration span of the reader.

    In a movie, you can validate a romance quickly, acknowledge and move on. Whereas in a book, the reader has to read through lines and lines of stuff to comprehend. So it takes more head space and effort. A book can only be so long before the reader loses interest, or feel cheated that you've wasted their time killing off a character.

    Just because you are humanizing them with romance doesn't mean you need to over invest. So going back to how the movies, I would think it's giving the relationship development a nod here and there, so we're aware there's a connection, but put a distance. You don't want to be spending pages and pages laboring their feelings for each other.

    Alternatively, if you're going to put the focus on, rather than making them do more evil things, you might want to just highlight what a bad influence they are for each other. How they validate and enable the worst in each other. If anything, it'll come across as sad and annoying and the reader is already set the expectation that no good will come from this. Just because they like each other doesn't mean we need to like them.

    What you don't want is their downfall to upstage the Hero's accomplishments and we're left thinking your hero is an asshole.

    Like @Feo Takahari, I'm not one for the body count either. Unless it makes sense for it to happen, killing of characters are an easy way out to me and not all that interesting. I'm not sure why some people are so keen to kill people off when it's more satisfying to see them suffer and live with consequences of really bad karma. But that would require work.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  17. theoriginalmonsterman
    Offline

    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    525
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    [REDACTED]
    Romance in books is a risky route to take, because the only way for you to understand romance is to have experienced it yourself. Also it's hard to write romance without making it sound cliche; which is why I tend to avoid it whenever I can while writing. However, the main thing to keep in mind is that romance doesn't have one definition. To understand romance between two people you need to understand those two people; their views, likes, dislikes, and so on. Basically there's a whole process to it, and whether you like it or not romance will tend to add another layer onto your story. The one thing you can't do is treat romance lightly in your story, because if it lacks too much detail the reader will find it to be a waste of time, but then you can't also over do it, or the reader will become agitated with the romance.

    Romance also is risky, because if it's done well it can overlap the reader's interest in the main plot, and they'll end up only wanting to focus on the romance.

    Avatar the Last Airbender is a good example of how to execute romance, because it knows when to focus on it and when to let it go. There's never a part in the series from my memory that tends to dabble in it for too long unless the episode is centered around it. Even then it still knows how to keep it balanced with other elements. However, the difference between Avatar and your story is that Avatar the Last Airbender was a animated series, and that gave it an advantage. When you have multiple episodes it's easy to transition away from the romance, because you can have the episode end with something comedic or with another point of interest to take the reader's attention away from the romance, and then move onto another episode that has a different plot which keeps everything neutral. The problem with a book is that you can sort of use this method, but as we all know people will tend to read large chunks of the book at a time if they enjoy the book. Due to this you can sort of use this method with new chapters, but still the reader has devoted a lot of time reading your story and once you have them captive with romance it's not as easy to draw their attention away. Romance in the end usually overpowers other elements of the story which is why many writer's will tend to try and avoid it until they've established the reader's interest in the main plot. Even then they will still only include it for small bits of time.

    Now you've brought the interesting idea of having a romance between two antagonists which is twice as risky, because you're risking losing the reader's interest in the protagonist to the antagonists. Also at the end of the story where the protagonist triumphs over the antagonists if you end it with death the reader will definitely be disappointed since they've first devoted time learning about the antagonists, and second they've become attached to the antagonists emotionally. The more the reader can relate to a character the more that person will become to like the character whether they're evil or not. You can't simply balance things out by making the antagonists "really evil" that's not how it works. Remember Jessie and James from the Pokemon series... it's a poor example I know, but even though they're supposed to be the main antagonists people still found themselves feeling sad for them when they were struggling since we spent so much time getting to know their characters we ended up liking them. More or less the point is that you can't choose death as the antagonist's fate simply because it's the easiest way to dispose of them as characters. That will not end well. Thinking back to Avatar the Last Airbender again, Zuko might've been an antagonist, but remember that both him and Mai weren't killed at the end. They actually ended up helping Aang which is why that situation worked. They became protagonists in the end which is why that aspect of romance in the series worked out.

    Overall, this is a neat concept and it could be a whiff of fresh air if someone did this, but like I explained it's insanely risky, and it could end badly if you don't plan it out well. Including a romantic relationship between your antagonists could be beneficial to the story, but if done wrong it could easily ruin it. Balancing it out won't be easy. It will take time, research, and a good dose of revisions to have it work well. However, if you've got the time on your hands I say go for it, because if it does work out it proves you're both skillful and hard-working as a writer. Of course you also need to be prepared if it doesn't work, because a concept like this could take a few times to get the hang of.

    Hopefully this will benefit your writing in some way. Writing romance is the equivalent of a mine field. One wrong step and it's all over. However, I still think it's a risk worth taking. ;)

    (As a side-note Avatar the Last Airbender to this date is still my favorite animated series of all time.)
     
  18. Xerclipse
    Offline

    Xerclipse Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2016
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    12
    Everybody's answers here seems mixed, and the way you answered explains why its so subjective and mixed. Well I decided not to do the romance between the two antagonists. I've humanized my antagonists enough. Now that I got a new plan, I'll have to expand on my antagonists' individual motivations. If I would ever touch romance, it would be on the hero. I've learned a lot and am still interested to hear more input from everyone.

    I plan to make it a graphic novel trilogy, so some of the things you said about movies may apply since it is displayed visually. I will try to use more art than words in some situations where I believe they don't need it. Their deaths are too important in the story, and if that is the case I don't want to make readers think "oh no... the end and final battle is coming up! I am totally not looking forward to that."

    Yes the hero appears to be an asshole. He is crazy, insane, and dangerous. He does slowly change as he develops. I didn't want to give too much info about him here now because this post is about the antagonists.

    You kidding ?! I wish I had proper experience to tell. I'd be way ahead of the game if I were to do this topic of two antagonists in love. Maybe research alone and hearing stories is not going to do it justice.

    Okay about the Avatar.... I believe the creators knew exactly how Zuko would end up from day one. I too believe that Zuko's relationship with Mai worked because they both worked for the Avatar at the end. If Mai was a more interesting character, I would have found it compelling. She was there and developed, but not the most compelling character to me. Hard for me to relate because I was not spoiled by given things as long as I stayed quiet while being detached from family.

    And it goes to show Azula's flaw was serving the Fire Nation and having a twisted view on the world and herself. She did try to get someone during the Beach but it never worked because of her ways. Humorous but meaningful for us to get to know her. She was still a monster and we wanted to see her fall even though she was still humanized.
     
  19. theoriginalmonsterman
    Offline

    theoriginalmonsterman Pickle Contest Administrator Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2014
    Messages:
    525
    Likes Received:
    251
    Location:
    [REDACTED]
    I guess I could've worded that better, because I didn't want to discourage you from attempting to have a relationship between the two antagonists, but it's true that the best way to understand romance is to have experienced yourself. The reason I mention that is, because if you don't know how a relationship works firsthand you may end up making the relationship sound cliche which is something you want to avoid. It's not impossible to create a relationship between two characters, but it may be a bit more difficult without experience.

    The problem with the forums is that you can come here for help, but a lot of people have different opinions on how you should go about writing since everyone has their own writing style. In the end you can get some advice, but it should really be up to yourself what you want to do with your story not anyone on the forums.
     
  20. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,726
    Likes Received:
    1,273
    Not necessarily: TVtropes has an extensive list of villainous couples, some of whom betray each other but others of whom are legitimately devoted to each other (despite both being evil).

    Your first point completely solves the problem of your second :D

    If he asked the forum what to do, he got one opinion from one person, and he then ran with that one person's opinion, then you're right that what worked for the responder might not work as well for him, but the fact that he got different perspectives from different people means that he's the one choosing which one(s) he likes the best ;)
     
    theoriginalmonsterman likes this.
  21. Domino355
    Offline

    Domino355 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2014
    Messages:
    411
    Likes Received:
    116
    One series that truly did the entire villain-couple justice, in my opinion (and villain developement in general) was Legend of Korra. Zaheer and P'Li's relationship is especially touching. They are both villains who remain so until the end, and still their love is as real as the protagonists'.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  22. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    In the anime/manga Sailor Moon, there were several romances that included antagonists. I find them very interesting and gives them depth. But them again, I love grey characters. Don't ask me for the character names because I know most of these in Cantonese rather than Japanese or English. But...

    1. the romance between the two mini-villains, the dude in the ponytail constantly surrounded by rose petals, and the other dude with long silver hair. Rose petal guy obviously falls neatly into gay stereotypes, while the silver-haired guy was the manly type women might swoon over. They often had little fights and then the silver guy would come and give the rose guy a flower, and they cuddled a lot lol.

    2. another mini villain - the dude with long brown wavy hair. He was supposed to trick an innocent character into revealing who Sailor Moon was, and as he went on with his trickery, the girl falls in love with him. Over time, he falls for her too. If I'm not mistaken, I think he dies because he saves this girl from an attack. His death scene was pretty emotional.

    3. in the feature-length movie, this alien dude comes back with the promised flowers for the series' lead male character Mamoru. It was never an open romance, especially since Mamoru has a straight relationship with Sailor Moon. But it was pretty strongly implied that the relationship between Mamoru and the alien was a little more than just a friendship - at least from the alien's side. The alien was the movie's main antagonist, but he was motivated by trying to protect Mamoru - so he was hardly evil, to be honest, though his actions clearly were. By the end, he realises his errors and saves Sailor Moon.

    Seriously, Sailor Moon has so much wasted potential!! :bigfrown::supermad: Some awesome characters and interesting character back stories - all of which was never developed in favour of focusing constantly on Sailor Moon and her constant crying :superagree: ARGH! :supermad:
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  23. Phil Mitchell
    Offline

    Phil Mitchell Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2015
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    91
    It depends where on the evil scale they are. "Antagonists" yeah they can support a romance. Antagonists are just defined as those with goals opposing the protagonist. Outright villains though? No, I would not write a romance for them. A personification of evil can't work with it because romance is, as you said, inevitably humanizing. Such a romance would have to be abusive with a villain and be so perverted it wouldn't qualify as a romance anyway.
     
  24. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Is it wrong to humanise villains though? Is anyone in this world truly pure good or pure evil that someone you consider as 'evil' would never be capable of love or even good motives, no matter whether the action itself is good or bad?

    You can donate a generous amount of money to charity to look good - that is bad motive and does not tell me that this person is actually generous or kind.

    And you can kill someone because you believe they are suffering in this life. Perhaps it was a misjudgement, perhaps they had no right to make such a decision. But the motivation itself would be a good one, one of love.

    Then you have Hitler who was known to be extremely gentlemenly and kind to women and animals. He introduced workers' holidays, in fact. Good things, good traits, from a man who was a failed artist who originally just wanted to paint.

    What he did was evil in the end, but wrong to say he's human and see that he is one? Wrong to recognise that good things might have happened even under a tyrant? No, not at all. In fact, I love fiction precisely for its power to make you question your perspective and see the layers in between, to reexamine what you once thought was the whole truth and see there might be more to it.
     
  25. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,418
    Likes Received:
    1,980
    Location:
    Australia
    :superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree::superagree:
     
    Mckk likes this.

Share This Page