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  1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    What kind of a person is this guy?!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Link the Writer, Jan 15, 2011.

    Okay, there's a character in my head that's an anti-hero/psycho. He scares the hell out of me.

    This character, Arlisha, is a 17-year-old orphaned boy who's the leader of a ragtag band of guriella warriors fighting against a much stronger army that's been attacking his country for 50 years.

    Arlisha...attacks innocents. Let me put in an example.

    Okay, so let's say Arlisha and another companion is talking to two members of the enemy camp for a trade of hostages. Arlisha will surrender himself if they give Arlisha's gang back their navigator, Thorna.

    When things aren't looking good in Arlisha's eyes, he suddenly spots an infant boy in the arms of one of the people, quickly snatches him and holds him off the ledge, ready to drop him to his doom.

    "If you want your baby, do what I say!" he yells.

    It's then I immediately stop thinking about it, heart racing. Arlisha is supposed to be a hero? Yet he seems to make war with innocents and the excuse he makes is: "They make war with our innocent women and children. I see no reason why I can't do the same." I tell him "Dude, wtf? Give them their baby!!" and I instantly see his cold stare as he smiles.

    I just don't like this guy. :( He's not as heroic as my other protagonists such as Amos, Heridon, or Omar. They would never do something like that.

    How do I make Arlisha likeable? What character development could I see from him besides just being a psychopath?

    Help.
     
  2. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    An action like this can show a lot about a character. I suggest showing your MC having a lot of hate for the enemy's people. You wouldn't want him to do this on the spur of the moment or have his behavior be out of character. If he has that much hate for the enemy despite gender or age, then his actions will be believable.

    Also, you could have one of his allies chastize him for this action later on as well. A sort of, "You have to be better than the enemy!" talk.

    As to your other dilemma, have the enemy appear to be that much worse. I'm not saying have the enemy line up rows of children and mow them down with a machine gun or anything. A good way of showing the enemy being just as bad or worse would be to show what they leave in their wake.

    For example, your MC may stumble upon a village the enemy have destroyed. There will be lots of buildings torched, animals slaughtered, people dead. Among those dead he will see dead children, whether they were executed, died from disease & starvation, or something other.
     
  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Good point.

    Maybe Arlisha thinks that the only way to beat the enemy is fighting on its level of atrocities? Being a "good saintly hero who dives into burning building to save children" won't cut it for him.

    Still, a part of me wants a redemption plot for him. Maybe his friends abandon him and he's rescued by a girl on the side of the enemy. At first he takes advantage of her, to show her how his country's far more superior than her. Then one day, he realizes he's developing a bond with her. Angry with himself, he forces himself to leave her. When she's captured, he tears the hell out of people to save her, only to realize that...he just tore through his own army!

    But what if redemption is not for him?
     
  4. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    A perfect hero is boring. And unrealistic. A character that doesn't change is also unrealistic.

    Your MC should be different at the end of the story from how he was at the start. It shows that your MC has grown as a character.

    As for redemption, whether it fits in with your story or not, that is up to you. Either choice can open up interesting paths in the story.

    Edit:

    Just adding this as an afterthought. It's possible your MC may not change if he's a zealot, but the people around him would still change. Allies may become disgusted and disillusioned with him,which leads them to abandon him. The enemy may grow to fear and avoid him, or they may grow to hate him and become more brutal.
     
  5. FrankABlissett
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    FrankABlissett Active Member

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    Does he have to be THE main character?

    Include another character who is a more moral voice. We can either see the whole story through his/her eyes, or you can switch between the amoral hero, and the moral follower.

    -Frank
     
  6. Torkyn
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    Torkyn Member

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    Well usually how they where raised dictates their actions when they are backed into a corner. They may not necessarily want to be bad they just need to do bad things to survive. Usually with these sorts of heroes you need to show how hard their life has been, show where they come from, and show them trying to change for the better.

    You sort of have to play the sympathy card as well to get your readers feeling for the character. Don't make your characters change easy though. It's important to keep things coming that make him revert back to his violent tendencies.

    Anyway that's my two cents. Not sure if that's any help though.
     
  7. Sackninja
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    Sackninja Member

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    Personally I think this could work but possible not as a redemption as such but as he becomes torn between leaving his army and going with this girl or abandon her and continuing to fight the enemy.
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Redemption is probably the only way to make a character like that likable, but you don't have to give him an over-the-top story arc. If you handle it well, with some good arguments between the characters, maybe a brief stint where he's kicked out (you don't even have to say what he does if he's not the MAIN character) and just generally observing the other character's actions, you can show him softening up and becoming more passionate. Sometimes I think a blatant story arc introduced just for character development looks a bit too much.
     
  9. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Make him human - give him a background that makes it understandable.

    He might be an orphan -what made him an orphan? How was he treated growing up etc ? What lead to this point in his life ?
     
  10. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    True.

    I just have to think about it. What happened to him that got him to that point of holding a baby off of a ledge? Sane people just don't wake up one day with a desire to do that.

    I think I should probably act as Arlisha's pschyciatrist so to speak. Examine his life and understand why he is the way he is. Once I do this, I'll realize what needs to be done.
     
  11. Clumsywordsmith
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    Clumsywordsmith Active Member

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    To quote Lupe Fiasco:

    ...Cute Smileless, Heartless, violent
    Childhood destroyed, devoid of all childish ways,
    Can't write their own names or read the words on their own graves
    Think you gangster popped a few rounds,
    These kids will come through and murder a whole town,
    Then sit back and smoke and watch it burn down,
    The grave gets deeper the further we go down...


    Try reading up on the psychology of child soldiers, as you probably know, children like this are very real and very present in our own world. Watch some movies, read some biographies, get into their heads and lives. It shouldn't take you long to understand the character. Let me see... best I can come up with at the moment is to read A Long Way Gone and watch Blood Diamond, if you haven't already. It'll give your readers a reason to actually feel bad for the guy, if you display him as a product of unfortunate circumstances.

    In fact, just put "Child Soldiers" into Wikipedia and check out the extensive list of references at the bottom.
     

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