1. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    Should a villainous character always be punished?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Man in the Box, Oct 8, 2011.

    I've created a character which could be considered a futile woman who only cares about looking good to others, meanwhile her favourite pastime is to create hoaxes about people around her so that these people end up with a bad reputation. She rejoices every time she does that, and it so happens that her next victim is the main character of the story, who has a special power. The actions of this woman will lead to the main character being viewed as a witch and bullied at school to the point she'll become recluse when she grows up.

    This woman could be viewed as villainous, but, with the way I'm outlining the plot, I'm finding difficulty to fit something in that could represent some sort of punishment to her without deviating too much from the main plot, and I believe her punishment won't have such a great impact in the story since the actual villains will appear much later. However, many readers love to see villainous characters getting the short end of the stick... So my question is: do I need, or better yet, must I punish this character in some way?
     
  2. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    If it doesn't fit in well with the plot then no not necessarily. There are plenty of people in real life who go unpunished for bad deeds.
     
  3. Hawwyboo
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    Hawwyboo Member

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    Punishment is so overrated. If you want your story to have a 'moral' tone where 'right' always triumphs over 'wrong', you should at least consider having the villain redeem herself in some way, or forcefully rehabilitated by someone else (which may involve some punishment, but for her own benefit) or rendered harmless without punishing her. If you're not going for a moral tone then by all means have her punished if it makes sense for the story, but don't do it just for the audience's benefit. Some of us get sick of villains being punished for punishment's sake, it's one of the main things that put me off Disney as a child.
     
  4. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    Villains being punished are the staple of a traditional ending because some way, some how, the bad guy has got to go down.

    Think about the main themes of your story. Is your villain that much of an annoyance that she deserves to be punished? Put yourself in the reader's shoes. Would they want to see that? Or, in the case that you're making about additional villains, she could simply fall into obscurity at the end forgoing any major punishment or triumph.
     
  5. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Nope - not always. It depends on your story.
     
  6. 'Nevermore'
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    'Nevermore' New Member

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    As said above, it completely depends on what villain you're aiming for. Sometimes it's not necessarily a villain, more a general antagonistic force. I like to make my antagonists more relatable to, have a detailed backstory that makes the reader feel more empathetic towards the baddie.
     
  7. Man in the Box
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    Man in the Box Active Member

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    The reason I asked this is because she could be considered the main villain of the first part of the story (which is when the protagonist is younger), but she's just a small grain of sand when you view the big picture (the big picture is revealed in the transition from the first part to the next).

    @'Nevermore': Yeah I'm doing this thing about giving my villains a backstory, I feel it enrichens the characters so much more. Later on I plan to write a spin-off detailing the past of one of the main villains, but now I'm just focusing on the story.
     
  8. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    If you ask a question about doing things a certain way in a story, and your question includes the word "always," the answer is probably "no." :D
     
  9. W.Locke
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    W.Locke Member

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    I like the idea of a character no matter how strong still being subjected to the almost inescapable and crushing power of the thoughts and machinations of someone who could be considered a villain, and the absolute inability to change that.

    I feel like in my personal experience, the bullies, the jerks, the pretty and popular girls with their attitudes of just being really important, the generally beautiful and cruel head honchos of high school all got a punishment I wouldn't wish upon anyone: They all got fat immediately, got married to those pretty girls who are really boring and vapid and fat now anyway because they all started popping out babies and they all work unsatisfying jobs and getting divorced will be the best and worst things that can happen to them all.

    That is a hell of a punishment. The people idolized in my high school are people I am so glad I am not. If I was writing your story, that character would later be referenced in a similar way, she now lives a meaningless and hollow, boring, unexamined life. But mentioned only in passing. Or no punishment at all, and the villain is rich and happy and famous and intelligent and beautiful with good things coming toward her all the time.
     
  10. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    It really depends on the story... like all of these other people have said. You seem to think it will distract from the plot, so I would just leave it alone. And it really depends on what point you are trying to make with your story (hopefully there's a point). If you are doing the classic "be a good person and you will be rewarded, be a bad person and you will be punished" theme, then by all means write in a way to punish the bad character... but maybe the theme is the opposite, that bad people don't always get what they deserve and you just have to deal with it. Or maybe like someone mentioned earlier, have this character realize what they are doing is wrong and grow because of it. Or maybe if the character isn't vital to the plot, just have her be a means to explain why the main character is the way they are.
     
  11. Rush guy
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    Rush guy New Member

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    Futile woman could always have a run-in with the real bad-guys. You could have your main character save this pain in spite of the trouble she causes. Then throw in a twister and DON'T have the futile woman change her ways at all.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the beauty about writing fiction is that 'always' or 'never' aren't relevant... a good writer can make anything work... and bad characters often get away scott free, just as they do in life... everything depends on how well you write it and if you make it make sense that the baddie doesn't get punished--yet...
     

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