1. jennym123
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    jennym123 Member

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    Undying villains; too Cliche?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by jennym123, Jun 12, 2013.

    So I wanted to implement an antagonist character into a story of mine. His thing is that he's a withered scientist that built himself a power armor to sustain his life. He was a major player during a war and when he was mortally wounded, people opened up his armor and found a mummified corpse, leading people to believe he died. In reality he transferred his mind into a computer long before and he's spent several decades slowly rebuilding himself.

    This character sounds a lot like Voldemort or Sauron and I'm afraid people will think this is cliche.

    What do you think?
     
  2. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    I personally hold with the saying that there is no such thing as a new character, as let’s be honest at this stage someone has likely written one similar. It's not really about what your character is but more about who he is. If you write him well it shouldn't matter too much if what he is fits with your story and how you want to tell it.

    Your character wouldn't have made me make the leap to the two characters you mentioned, and even if it did, that would mean you think Voldermort is a cliché as well. If you don't think so, then why would yours be? It's all about the personality and what they say that is where you really run the risk of making people think the character is clichéd. Or at least that is my opinion.
     
  3. maskedhero
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    maskedhero Active Member

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    I don't think it is too cliche. The key is putting a new spin on it. Is he a POV character? Become old and withered, a corpse, after spending time in self-built power armor would imply intelligence, but also a desire to extend life well beyond your own time. Such implications are dire (living a long, long, long time can be troubling). Is he faced with these problems? Will we ever know?

    How is he rebuilding himself, from a computer? Is this computer on a network? Have you read Peter F. Hamilton's works? He covers long lives and transfer of intelligence into machines a lot in his fiction (and power suit armor in Fallen Dragon). Good stuff indeed.
     
  4. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    How is this anything like Voldemort or Sauron? If anything, it rather reminds me a little of Ghost in the Shell where there's a mind hacker :D
     
  5. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    It's also like some elements in the Star Wars extended universe. But as most everyone here will tell you, it's not what you write, but how you write it that determines whether something is cliché. Focus on this guys character. Why was he fighting in that war? Does he miss his body? Does he have regrets? Why continue the fight? Why is he struggling so hard to survive?

    Specificity and original details help combat clichés.
     
  6. jennym123
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    jennym123 Member

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    OK, maybe Cliche isn't the right word. Truthfully, I'm worried my work would get unfairly compared Harry Potter. I didn't realize until after I wrote the rough draft that the basic story concept of (Boy is a Mad Scientist and sent to special school for people like him) felt a lot like a Steampunk version of Harry Potter.
     
  7. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    As I said before, I really didn't see the Voldermort connection to your character based on your post, but of course you know what is forming in your mind more than is perhaps being conveyed in your posts. And as the others and I have said, it’s not really about character inception but how you write him that will make him an individual or will make people picture him as someone they have read about before in another book.

    Is there a reason he goes to a special school? And I assume it’s not actually a school for mad scientists? How is he mad? Does he do crazy things or is he a sociopath or psychopath? Was it an event in his life, or was he born like it? Often if it’s an event that shapes them, and in a lot of cases they go to normal schools and their madness isn’t spotted till later in life, often not until they are arrested knee-deep in body parts.

    In short, don’t worry too much about it. All people go to school, whether they are sane or mad. Just know the character well and write it so and you should avoid people comparing your character to others they have read, except perhaps in small ways, which is common and expected when you read pretty much anything.
     
  8. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Also reminds me of:

    Davros
    John Lumic

    Both from Dr. Who.
     
  9. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, maybe that bit right there is a tad on the nose, but the 'undying villain' is less cliché and more archetypal.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I was thinking Michael Myers (not the comedian), Jason Voorhees, or Freddy Kruger.

    Cliches are for words, phrases, and metaphors, not characters, storylines, or themes.
     
  11. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    It's not a cliche it's an archetype. I wouldn't worry too much about recycling ideas that are out there floating around. Everything has been done in one way or another. Your voice as a writer will be what makes it unique. Try not to stress over it. As long as you are not taking someone else's work and putting your name on it you're good! :)
     
  12. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    I was thinking the dreadnoughts from warhammer 40k *cough- not a nerd* But so what, parts of it are like Roujin Z. But who cares as long as its an original tale.
     
  13. Gholin
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    Like others have said, it's how you write the character that makes him fresh. Personally, I can see this villain going a lot of ways. One avenue you might want to explore is how transferring his mind into a computer has affected his thinking and behavior. That would be quite a change! He's already been through a lot, with his withered form and wars in the past. In how you have described him, you have already built a case for a rich back-story and have opened up possibilities to make him unique from other well-known characters. He could be totally insane, and if he's not, people around him must wonder how he has survived such harrowing things and kept his mind! Think about the effects of his life upon him and those around him. There is a lot you can do with this character to keep him fresh.
     
  14. MrWisp
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    MrWisp Member

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    I have a semi-immortal antagonist in my story as well, and I've worried about this also. However, it is truly all about giving your character an original voice, motivation, back story, etc. I mean, when you think about it, Voldemort is totally an archetype. He seeks immortality, he wears a long black cloak, he's associated with serpents, and so on. Still, if the character is written well enough, no one will notice. If the villain's only defining characteristic is his immortality, then I'd start to worry.
     
  15. NeonFraction
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    NeonFraction Member

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    I agree. The first thing I thought was not 'cliche,' it was 'That sounds awesome!'
     
  16. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a little cliche, but it doesn't matter. You're not (or shouldn't be) going for complete and total originality: this particular idea was done as long ago as the Táin Bó Cúailnge and as recently as Wolverine. What matters is whether the character and book are convincingly written. People are a lot more forgiving when they're enjoying your work.
     
  17. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Whats the difference between harry potter and some disc world novels? Both have a university for magic. Harry Potter and the worst witch? There will always be similarities, and a steam punk Harry potter sounds cool. Just make sure your inspired and not following and you will be fine.
     
  18. Volcre
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    There's nothing wrong with an immortal post-human antagonist. In some senses, you could even say it's an easily identifiable villainous trait. It's up to you to make sure that 'why' he wants to be immortal and 'what' it entails is interesting to the reader.

    I've noticed that with these kinds of antagonists, like Sauron and Voldemort, they tend to be absent from the story in large doses, being mostly peripheral characters; somehow the whole story is centred on them but they hardly appear! Something new and interesting might be to weave this computer into the story. Make it a major player, make it cause and affect change in the world. Having a computer come pursue and play mindgames with your protagonists could be an interesting take.
     
  19. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I kind of like that idea.

    If you write it well, I don't think you need to worry too much. I have two YA males in love with my protagonist and I worried a bit it was overdone. But by the time I had a good section of the book done, it's completely different from the overdone versions and I am no longer concerned.
     

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