1. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Should my MC do this?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mckk, Jan 30, 2011.

    I'm at a loss here. Basically, my MC hears a fight go on outside a shop. He then hears his name being called out, so he runs out to see what's going on. He goes out, and see 3 teenagers bullying an old, blind beggar.

    Now, my MC flips out and gets into a fight with these teens, winning very easily and breaking someone's arm in the process. He's clearly enjoying this and wants more, and even tries to chase when one of the teens runs for it. My MC only stops because the beggar stops him.

    Is this a good idea? To have my MC not only be so brutal (well, breaking someone's arm) but to actually ENJOY it?

    His enjoying hurting someone is completely out of character - basically he witnesses his fight and something snaps inside him, and there's this hidden, powerful and evil part in him that gets awaken. But he doesn't know this is even part of him - he's never been this way before. (all revolves around just WHO is my MC - that's what the story's about)
     
  2. Pen
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    Pen Member

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    It's only out-of-character if there is no explanation for what he does- it sounds as though you have an explanation there but I'd be wary of giving him resounding victory against fairly threatening odds- three opponents, even teenagers, are probably more than a match for even a relatively fit ordinary man on his own.

    The teenagers bullying a blind beggar seems like unwarranted puppy kicking to me, and by reflection it makes your character seem somewhat Mary Sueish, as his opponents are so very evil he is almost justified in losing his temper.
     
  3. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm trying to nurture an evil part in my MC, because that's actually his core character, even though he wants to do good and is actually a good person.

    Remind me what is Mary Sue - I think of it as a cliche where a character is really good all the time, and wins at all times even against stupidly bad odds?

    Well, I'm not sure the teens sound too evil - the way I've written it, they're (typical, I know) jeering and laughing at the beggar and pushing him around, having snatched his purse. My MC comes in and essentially the way he does it is throws them into each other (avoids a blow, which ends up landing on the teen behind him - a tad like the way Jackie Chan does it in Karate Kid - probably my inspiration lol).

    And then I describe my MC as being delighted and I likened him to a wolf :rolleyes: ("just as a wolf's eyes light up at the sight of blood" - was my sentence)

    Hmmm... you know what, I'll post it in the review room - I thought I made my MC sound a lot more evil than the teens actually.
     
  4. jaywriting
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    jaywriting Member

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    Sounds like that is the story you want to tell, I'd say run with it. You're allowed to do whatever you like in your story, even if it seems "bad". Some of the most interesting characters have a violent or destructive side that they struggle to keep in check.

    That said, you as the writer should try to understand what drives your characters. Would he really behave that way? Keep writing and when the story is done go back and see if the character you have created makes sense to you.
     
  5. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    A mentor of mine (who has 4 books published and has made decent money off them) once told me that every book needs a "save the cat" moment, or some heroic moment that will make readers really like the MC -- whether it be saving a cat, helping an old lady with groceries, etc. Saving an old beggar from thugs fits this bill perfectly.

    However, as you said, one guy easily taking on three opponents is a bit of a stretch. While he's breaking someone's arm -- and I can imagine breaking an arm takes a bit of effort -- why aren't the other two guys jumping him?

    Keep the scene, but make sure to address reality so it doesn't seem, as someone said, Mary Sue ish.

    And yes, having him enjoy breaking the arm is perfectly fine. When someone really badly hurts you or someone close to you, you want them to hurt for it, even if it doesn't seem like the "nicest" attitude..it's just the way it is. If you see someone being a jerk needlessly, and they get hurt, it's reasonable for a character to be glad about it.

    Making him NOT feel this way could make him seem Mary Sue ish as well..
     
  6. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup, it's the oldest trick in the book and most movies use it too. Well, except for one Danish movie where the director/writer said he deliberately wanted to oppose that, and so the movie opens with the main character taking a football from some playing kids in the park and when they ask him to give it back, he tosses it into a thorny shrub... The film became highly acclaimed and most viewers liked the main character a lot (despite this anti-sympathy trick). Just make sure your character is true to themselves.
     
  7. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does your MC seem happy to do it ? I usually find a good judge of if it is right for a character is to listen to them. Usually find if something is wrong they will refuse to do it, if it is right no matter how awful they passively accept it.
     
  8. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thank you for all the responses!

    I've actually posted the scene in the Review Room now if you'd be so kind as to read it :) Mind you, it does sound like I'm gonna change it a bit... but it'd be good too to know what should be changed in my current version either way!

    Elgaisma - I'm sorry to say I don't know my MC as well as I probably should! But it's true that, at the moment, it doesn't quite feel "right"... I've written this particular bit with 3 different scenario before already and none of them sat right with me :( (there wasn't even a fight originally)

    Mallory - what a brilliant trick! It might be better if I do as you say, and use it as a device to make my MC look like a hero - and then only later, exaggerate his violence and gradually add to this? What do you think?

    Jaywriting - that sounds like a good idea tbh. Right now, I'm not sure. What drives my MC - he's confused and frustrated. The story starts with 4 guys walk into his village shop and tries to kill him, and he runs for it. And he wants a few answers. He's just a village guy who helps his mum run the cheese shop - but he's got a hidden past. My MC has no memory, because he's not human, but he doesn't know this :) So it's quite difficult to say, what drives him, 'cause essentially, it's like he's got 2 personalities. An evil, destructive one, and another who's the normal village boy. (Is that really cliche?)
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    why not make it two other beggars that want the beggar's spot ?
     
  10. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I was actually thinking about that as a possibility :D (I think a part of me just doesn't wanna ditch the scene 'cause there're some things I like about it)

    I'll go and do as you suggested and see :D Thanks!
     
  11. Boring Editor
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    Easy. Bullies are usually cowards. Not a stretch to picture two of them reluctant to start fighting until he busts one of their noses.

    If anything was to grind on me with the scene, it would be the cheesy set up. Not only are three people abusing one guy, but this guy is a beggar. Not only is he a beggar, but he's blind. In comes protagonist to save the day and win my reader's little heart.
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Yep, sounds good. But while you're writing the scene, be careful not to make it too "I can take down three strong, teenage guys simply because I have the spark of justice in me." Heroic is good, but the readers' suspension of disbelief can stretch only so far before you find yourself in Mary Sue territory; just be careful of that.

    I really like Elg's idea about changing the three teen thugs to other beggars who want this beggar's spot. Or, maybe they're trying to steal his accumulated change, like how kids steal other kids' Halloween candy.
     
  13. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree about the whole 1 man taking on 3 guys at once being a stretch... to a point. It largely depends on the character in question. If he is your average joe then yeah chances are they will gang up on him and just beat the hell out of him.

    If your MC has some experience with fighting or is trained in hand to hand combat then him taking on three guys wouldn't be to difficult for him as long as the other 3 arn't.

    What I am basically saying. Give him a good reason to be able to take on a few thugs. Because if he is just average joe then atleast give him a baseball bat or something.

    As for whether or not the character should enjoy it that is completely up to you. If he enjoys it then why? Was it because he was inflicting pain, coming to the aid of a blind beggar, or was it part of the adrenaline rush he got and he only now realizes how he can truly feel alive. Hell maybe he enjoys it simply because once again he proved he is better then someone else?

    Give him a good reason to take on 3 guys easily and well for the enjoying it part that really is up to you.
     
  14. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    I would replace the begger with a kid his own age, and then make his victory cost your protagonist to a certain degree. I wouldn't place much of anything in the story that doesn't help to create or solve a conflict (or give the reader extra details of the surroundings of course).

    It does sound a little Garry Sue-ish as you have it though.
     
  15. Tesgah
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    The term "Mary Sue" is thrown around way too much and too easily these days.

    Anyway, a grown man defeating three teenagers is not too far off. How old are these teenagers? Say the man gets the first strike without the boys seeing it comming, that's allready one out of the picture. Then he dodges a punch and (presumably) takes out one of the other boys. He would probably be a lot stronger than they are, so breaking the arm of the last one is pretty probable as well.

    I'd say that it can easily work, as long as you write it well enough. My opinion is that it is far from Mary Sueish.:cool:
     
  16. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh forgot they were teenagers. It would put them at an a disadvantage, not to mention the element of surprise.

    But I also agree that the Mary Sue term is way over used and in alot of cases misused.

    But nothing so far has really screamed Mary Sue. It sounded more like a man discovering a more darker side of himself.
     
  17. Birmingham
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    Birmingham Active Member

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    Mckk, your idea sounds wonderful! And the fact that a good man, who does a good thing, actually feels some sensation that morally he does not want to feel, really touches at the core of the human condition. We're all like that.

    You know, a character in "Profiler", the TV show, once said something like "bad man do what good man dream". Meaning, we're all like that. We all have the urge to go wild. Those who have morality, simply stop themselves from doing it. Those who are immoral or amoral (I have a hard time seeing the distinction between these two terms) simply go with what they feel.

    So, in my humble opinion, I think it's good. Especially since he can justify it to himself, because he didn't just break the arm of an innocent or a nice person, and he didn't have the urge to hurt an innocent. He had the urge to beat the crap out of someone who deserved it. Anyway, so far, I'm loving it. At the end it's your choice, because you know what you're going for, but I would go with it if I were you. I think it's one of the best ideas I read here.
     

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