1. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    To be or NOT to be.... evil?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Lea`Brooks, May 11, 2013.

    Heyo!

    So I've got this novel, right? It's a YA fantasy, loosely inspired by the Eragon, LoTR type of world. I've basically created my own species, nothing too extreme but nothing too boring either. I've also mapped my own world (I discovered I'm much more proficient with Photoshop than I initially realized!) and created more cities than I can wrap my brain around.

    What I need is.. I have this character that I can send in two different directions. I can either make him good... Or bad. I originally wrote his character as evil. He pretends to be good, but he's really trying to kill the main character the whole time. So if he's good, that totally rips out this element that I wanted to add to the story. I LOVE dark characters. I love good characters GOING dark, which is what I was going to do with the main character. But, I can still get the good-characters-going-dark element if I make him good.. It's just going to be different characters.

    I'm just torn. Stick with my original plan, or scrap it and write him differently. What do you think? Does making the second main character evil ruin the story or could it help? Are there more benefits to one than the other? Any suggestions on how I should make a decision?

    Obviously I'm new at this.. lol So thank you for reading!


    Blessings,
    Lea
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    It strikes me that you need to get to know your character. He'll tell you whether he wants to pursue evil or good. And I don't know that you want necessarily a black and white good/evil. He can do evil things, but is he completely, totally, all evil? Even good people could do "evil" things, and who's to say what is evil anyway (unless he simply gets a sadistic pleasure out of torturing people and seeing them suffer or something).

    Write some scenes with this character that take place before your story starts (or that you simply won't include in your story). What happened to him as a child? What were his parents like? What was his experience in school or training or whatever type of educational system your character might go through? Has he ever been in love? If so, what was that like? If not, why not? Spend some time with him and you'll know what he's like.
     
  3. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    That is a great question, and I would love to answer that question, but first, I have to ask you a question: Why did you initially decide to change your original plan?
    You wanted him to be evil. Everything is great. Why are you vacillating, now?
    It is impossible for us to suggest what you should do if we have no idea why you are even asking the question.
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    @Chicagoliz: Thanks for your reply! Your response is where my problem lies. lol Making him good or evil determines his back-story. Either he lets power go to his head (creating the typical I-want-all-and-deserve-all mentality) or he was framed into the I-want-all-and-deserve-all-mentality by someone who really DOES want all. Yanno what? lol I just made my decision. But I'm going to keep explaining for the sake of it. =) Anyway, if I keep main guy evil, there would eventually come a girl (the main character) who is more powerful than even the Gods. The main guy realizes that if she's allowed to live, he'll lose his power because she'll be able to destroy him. So his dedicates his life to finding her and killing her. But when he finds her and gets close to her (without her catching on to his motive), he ends up falling in love with her. By the end of the first novel, she'd figure out that he's notoriously evil, and she'll leave him. But the whole second novel would be about him trying to win her over, to which she'd give in momentarily and have a cool, evil couple novel. =)

    OR! If he were to be good, he'd be framed into being evil by someone more evil than him, so the girl finds out he's evil (even though he isn't) and he has to convince her otherwise. I think it brings the characters together better for a second novel, but my original story is better. It's what I started with and I'm gunna keep it! He's an evil power-hungry dictator at heart. =)

    @Atari: That's a good question. lol I was reading another novel.. And the idea just popped into my head. But it was a bad one. Back to my original plan. =)


    Thank you for helping me work that out. lol I feel silly. But more confident in my original plan now.


    Thanks again!
    Blessings,
    Lea
     
  5. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I'm glad you are confident in your original plan, but I must admit that -- personally speaking -- I would be sad to see such a wonderful couple broken, but I suppose I would also feel bad if she became evil, ultimately, realizing that she wanted to be with him and that it would be the only way.
     
  6. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, I know. =\ But I think that is what's going to make it so powerful. The whole first book is going to be about them falling in love and whatnot. I'm going to play them off as soulmates, but way more intense. Like they were made specifically for each other, it psychically hurts them to be separated. Before I changed completely everything, I had written quite a bit and made my mom cry a couple times. lol Then again, Disney movies make my mom cry, so that's not saying much..

    Anyway. There's nothing I find more powerful than love. And at the end, when she realizes who the guy is? It's going to be intense. lol And heartbreaking. But I love it. So the second book is (hopefully) going to be even better, with the conflict of interests. She wants to stop him from doing evil things, but she's in love with him and he's in love with her, so he'll do almost anything for her, but he's bad and.. Yeah. lol It's like that time in Charmed with Pheobe and Cole... Is it sad that their relationship inspired me?

    I haven't decided how they're going to end yet. I think I'm going to let that part write itself. It'll be a surprise to everybody then. =)
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Good and evil are just adjectives, and among the shallowest ones that can be applied to a character.

    Any time you can sum up a character with an adjective, it's time to throw something into the mix to blur that adjective.
     
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  8. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Agreed.
     
  9. shlunka
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    shlunka Member

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    I wouldn't use "evil", it's such an ambiguous and subjective definition. Use different adjectives to describe the character or let the actions speak for themselves.
     
  10. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not planning on calling him "evil." :p It's just easier to describe him that way in short. Yanno.. the battle between good and evil? There's good guys.. and there's bad guys. But then the good guys turn out to be bad guys.. And the bad guys aren't as bad as the good guys originally thought.. So then the good guys try to work with the bad guys, only to be double-crossed by the bad guys who were pretending to be good guys but were really bad!

    I'm just rambling now. =) I promise I'm not a child.

    I actually feel as thought I'm doing a fairly decent job creating my characters. The main characters all have a decent backstory. I've interviewed all of them in my head. They all have a good goal they're working toward. Well, except a couple people I'm still touchy on, but they aren't REALLY main characters. At least I don't think they are.. Hm..
     
  11. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    First, I'm going to agree with Cogito. Then I'm going to toss in my two cents about the good/evil thing. I don't even acknowledge the dichotomy. Everything's gray to me. Even those characters I create that might be considered "evil" have their own goals and reasons that aren't just as simple as "I want to because I can or because I just want to." Few (and I hope, if any) people do things for the sake of good or evil. They just do it for their reasons. Their moral code is gray. Their reasons are gray. The outcome is gray. And now the horse is quite dead, I suspect. I'm not sure there's even a reason for me to be posting here, considering you've made up your mind already...
     
  12. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Whatever floats your boat. If you want to make him Evil make him evil, if you want to make him good, make him good. The choice is yours.
     
  13. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm trying to wrap my mind around "how" evil he is. Like a sociopath? Richard Kuklinski -evil? That guy had a family and a wife he protected pretty fiercely, but he admits to never actually having loved them. So what confuses me is this evil guy falling in love with this girl.

    How emotionally dead or damaged is he? (if you decided to make him evil)

    Let's pretend for a moment that he is. So how do you make this plausible if he's emotionally dead enough to do really bad things:
    ?

    I bet a lot of us knows what that's like. I've been with my husband for over 6 years and we're still crazy-attached. Like, I'm hurting right freaking now because we're 6 miles apart. But I couldn't imagine being this emotionally attached to someone if I was at the same time selfish and capable of evil things (whatever that encompasses in your case. Only murder? Torture? Swindling money from old people?). Maybe I'd buy it if they're both somewhat crooked that way, tag-teamed to do bad stuff, Mickey and Mallory -esque stuff, you know? But that might be a stormy affair cos they could be emotionally quite unstable and dysfunctional and end up hurting each other too, plus their love could be just obsession and lust instead of... what should I call it? True caring? Well, possibilities are endless.

    He could also be a soldier in war, sent to assassinate the powerful magic girl, Stockholm Syndrome ensues... Then his "evilness" might be more ambiguous because he was just following orders. Maybe he didn't have a choice.

    This might be easier to pull off realistically. He's accused of, e.g. murder or rape or whatever, the girl dumps his evil ass, but he goes to great pains to prove her he never did such thing. It's gonna do a number to their relationship, but it's not as bad as "the good girl" finding out her lover is a ruthless killer or somesuch.

    You could read Why Good People Do Bad Things: Understanding Our Darker Selves by James Hollis. Not the best book, but pretty interesting. Gives more shades to people who do possibly immoral, unethical, selfish things. Also, a lot depends on how realistic you want to be with your story, how much romanticizing you are planning to do. Bella was ok with Edward being a blood-lusting monster. Buffy didn't truly warm up to Spike before he had redeemed himself to a degree because he was blatantly "evil." Unfortunately in real life affairs with criminals, murderers, and "evil people" in general (you seem to have defined evil to yourself to some degree, hence I'm using it here) rarely have happy endings.

    Sorry if I came off a bit of a dick there. Not my intention.
     
  14. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    -_-.... You guys are all putting words in my mouth. lol

    @Heal41hp: I take back using the word "evil." lol I only used it to differentiate between the paths I could have him take. Did I want him to really do bad things or did I want him to be framed? And because I have decided to go with my original plan, he does in fact have his own reasons for doing said bad things. He is not black and white, there IS a lot of gray. Forgive me for not putting my entire plot and character bio on display, but I have planned out his life path and what brought him there and why he is the way he is.

    @KaTrain: See above. lol I take back the word evil. He's not evil, he just does bad things. He's not an Edward/Bella kind of guy, and I've unfortunately never watched all of Buffy, so I can't relate to their relationship. But my previous description is still quite accurate to me. The relationship between my male MC and my female MC is like the relationship between Cole and Phoebe on Charmed. In case you've never seen the show.. Cole was a demon who did really bad things, but he was still desperately in love with Phoebe. Phoebe was a witch who had previously sworn her life to protecting the innocent. Cole and Phoebe got married. At some point, she figured out who he was, the leader of the Underworld, but because she loved him, she stayed with him until he threatened the ones she loved.

    So. That, in a nutshell, is my story. He's not a sociopath. He's not even a murderer. But what you said at the end hits the nail on the head.

    Real life affairs (though this is in no way "real life" as it is a fictional world with fictional creatures) rarely have happy endings.

    I believe I never said anything about my novel having a happy ending. :)


    I really do appreciate you all trying to help me, though. If I were truly lost, you would have helped me tremendously. I think, however, I just made a mistake by using the wrong word and led you all to believe that I was confused and/or inexperienced with romance and/or being unrealistic with my novel layout. I think I have the story and the characters down pretty well. I'm just a skeptic when it comes to laying my story out for the world to see in fear that someday I'll read it in a book with someone else's name on it. (Not saying that my story idea is "the bomb" or anything.. I just like my ideas to be a surprise. :))


    Thanks again!
    Lea
     
  15. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Oh yeah, trust me, that happens more often than you think when people ask for help in plotting, characterization, etc. It's inevitable, so just roll with it and ignore the stuff that flies off the mark. We're all still putting our time and effort to help others (and often end up helping ourselves in the process). Not saying you didn't appreciate this, you said it plain and clear that you do.

    Yeah, I remember this. I have a personal dislike towards Cole's character -- I think it's the actor's face, I just can't stand it, heh -- and hated their relationship. But maybe it wasn't so much how it was built (I mean it was fantasy, and I let a lot slide with fantasy. Beauty can love the Beast, no prob), but the characters, their interaction, etc. rubbed me the wrong way.

    That, but I also meant that people who bake cookies with the darkside can do pretty bad stuff to their lovers. Like Phoebe and Cole had their challenges too.

    While we may be your future audience, partly we are also what your editor will someday be, people who try to help make your story better, so no need to keep secrets from us. Plus you could always refer to that thread where you discussed some character etc if it looks like someone stole it and at least embarrass the plagiarist's thieving ass if not sue ('cause I'm not sure if copyright laws are the same in your country as in mine).

    There's a vaguely similar love story in the WIP of mine and my hubby's; a man falls in love with a woman who's got a mile long rap sheet and murder one under her belt. They end up doing very bad and desperate things together which does a number to their relationship. This is a common, fascinating storyline, but inevitably every writer brings something new and unique to it.
     

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