1. Kata_Misashi
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    Kata_Misashi Active Member

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    Wait... i thought they were the good/bad guy?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Kata_Misashi, Oct 7, 2015.

    Something I'm experimenting with. After my recent update to my fictional story I came up with a crazy idea. Basically the story shifts between the protagonists and the antagonists and from their situations it would seem like the other group is the bad guys while their the good guys (or at least trying to be).
    I'm just posting this to ask two things.
    1) Will it work? Will it be too confusing?
    2) Is that what they call non-linear story telling?
    Hopefully I can pull it off ^^;
     
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  2. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    it would work. I love Song of Ice and Fire and one of my biggest surprises has been the fact that characters whom i hated in the early parts of the books have become favorite POV characters as the stories have progressed. They 100% have motives that are counter to other characters i like, but since i can see the reason behind their actions i am able to support and root for both of them.

    That said, it is very likely a more complex writing process.
     
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  3. Bocere
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    Bocere Member

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    +1 to all of the above comments here.

    Oh how I love gray characters. I think it will be a difficult story structure to write in, but will be a fascinating read if done well. Anything that can make me second-guess my initial judgments as I'm reading is solid in my mind.

    As far as it being non-linear that depends on how you structure it. In my series I'm doing multi-viewpoint with kind of a similar vibe, and I jump around to different peoples' heads a lot, and there are flashbacks and time gets a little fluid, so mine is nonlinear at times. If you are bouncing back and forth between different characters but the timeline keeps moving forward consistently with each chapter I believe that would still be linear? In my understanding, at least.

    Someone feel free to jump all over that comment if I'm wrong. :)
     
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  4. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    1) Will it work? Will it be too confusing?

    I think it can work, and I don't think it would be too confusing, but it seems to me that you'd need to think carefully beforehand about what each side's motives were, and ensuring there was something in both sides that readers could empathize with. You could pull this off with a big reveal at the end ("The drug-running gangsters were only trying to provide for their wheelchair-bound grandmothers!"), but that's sort of a cheap trick. I'm not really sure what the best way to structure the plot would be, but you'd need to spend significant time with both sides to show how they got to where they are from some kind of relatable starting point.

    2) Is that what they call non-linear story telling?

    I believe that non-linear storytelling has more to do with how time is portrayed, not necessarily POV, which seems to be what you're talking about. In a non-linear story the events of chapter 2 happen before the events of chapter 1, or chapter 3 happens between 1 and 2, or it's not clear when any events are happening in relation to when other events happen, etc. You could make this a part of the story you describe, but I think it's more difficult to pull off.
     
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  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I like the idea of characters looking like the good/bad guy from the other good/bad guy's POV. It's different in my mind from the reader not knowing or getting ambiguous cues. And it's a very real world fact of life.
     
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  6. Kata_Misashi
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    Kata_Misashi Active Member

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    Hahaha! Th-that's toootally not what I was thinking of! Hahaha... ha... :whistle:
    No but seriously, the whole grey area when it comes to characters is exactly what I'm trying to do without it being... well...

    ^ ...that...^ :superthink:

    Oh, man this is going to be tougher than I thought. :superwhew:
     
  7. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    That (except for the drugs part) is almost exactly a synopsis of the plot of the worst episode of The Walking Dead to ever (yet) air. I mean, I love that show, but Season 2 was pretty freakin' bad.
     
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  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you want to write about competing POVs and keep it interesting, then the most important thing to remember is controlling how much each side knows about their opponent at any given time.

    There are tons of well-known films and novels that you could look into that dance between protagonist and antagonist POV - and show the grey areas of both characters - but on a less mainstream note: have you ever heard of the Hulu original series The Booth at the End?

    It's about a man who makes deals with people such that they have to perform specific tasks in order to guarantee that their wishes will come true, and we never see the clients actually doing anything the assignments he gives them, all we see is The Man sitting in a diner talking with them about how far along they are.

    It's basically "Tell, Don't Show: The Series" :D but it works surprisingly well not just because of the lengths some people will go to achieve their goals, but also because the plots become increasingly complicated as The Man starts playing some of his clients against each other.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
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  9. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    1) Anything can work in theory if you put the time into it.
    2) No - non-linear means time doesn't move in a straight line. This is when you have a bunch of flashbacks, or two stories in two timelines, or a story that starts at the end and works backward, etc.
     
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  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    As @Simpson17866 has pointed out The Booth at the End has an interesting take on this "who is REALLY the good guy?" vibe. Another is Continuum, where the Law Enforcement agent is trying to prevent the machinations of a gang of terrorists - who are merely trying to protect the world from the conspiracy-theory machinations of The Global Corporocracy (my abbreviation for the real forces of evil). And the myth of Robin Hood is another one, although there the forces of law and order are painted as being totally black, rather than both sides being some shade of grey.

    You could compare and contrast certain characters who are perceived as good and bad...anyone for William the Conqueror and the Kray twins: Their respective roles in the enforcement of law and order in their neighbourhoods.?

    So, enough previous examples to say it can work.

    Do it!
     
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  11. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There's only one point I'd make in addition to what others have said: readers are more likely to find the first POV character they are introduced to the 'good' guy. He's the first one they'll have a connection with and unless he's torturing a kitten or something they will be inclined to think of him as the protagonist.
     
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  12. ToBeInspired
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    ToBeInspired Contributing Member

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    It really depends on how you structure it and how long you let the idea sit in the person's head. It's most likely they'll set the book down a few times before finishing it, so the good guys will be good guys and the bad guys will be bad guys for quite a while in their own minds.

    It may help if you transition it a bit. Maybe some of the "good guys" thought they were doing good and were just manipulated. Switch over to the "bad guys." That'd help the readers understand it a little better in my opinion. Maybe have one likeable character who was just foolishly taken in by the principalities of justice and all that.

    I've seen a few books like that. An example:

    Boy has certain powers and is recruited by X group. Is told that Z group helped in the murder of his parents. X group shows off their advanced base and preaches about a better world. Z group is cast as the villain, destroying their bases. X group kills Z group whenever given a chance. Boy has psychic revelation and learns X group is actually crazy-kill-all-non-specials and Z group is trying to save the world from them. Switch over.
     
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