1. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,217
    Likes Received:
    399

    would this make you hate my MC?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Mckk, Mar 31, 2012.

    So this is a fantasy novel about a epic war, as usual. My world consists of 3 realms - 2 of them are active and 1 of them is a mystery. The 2 active realms are the Underworld and the realm of the living (don't have a good name yet)

    Register to remove this ad


    Now my MC has some special powers that everyone wants. So to cut to the chase - this is now the penultimate arch just before the ending of the novel. My villain kidnaps my MC's lover, and threatens to kill her unless he breaks down the barriers between the 2 realms, which would have the effect of allowing the enemy to flood the living realm with his shadow army of underworld monsters from more points across the living realm, allowing him to take down a pretty important city (since one of the divides is within this city), which would lead the villain to being able to take down the capital, which would be the final defeat of the living.

    So my MC agrees, in order to save his lover, with the hope of fixing this later.

    Logical? Stupid? Would it make you despise my MC? Note - he knows it's nothing good but he's not 100% sure of the consequences of breaking down the barriers. He's a smart guy but without formal education and certainly know little about these "spiritual matters/existences".
  2. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Well, this one sits on the fence for me, and I'd like to explain.

    It's a story, and a story needs some level of conflict. If a foolish action--even by the hero--creates major elements of the plot, then it's a pivotal piece. And you did use the word "fantasy." If that's your objective, then the redemption is also part of the plot.

    On a personal level, and if the lead was a real-deal person, I wouldn't give him the time of day. Granted, I represent a muiy macho segment of society, but there are things a man just doesn't do. Betrayal to secure a selfish goal is just not done.
  3. CheddarCheese
    Offline

    CheddarCheese New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Canada
    Hi Mckk,

    My thoughts are quite similar to The Tourist's.

    Your MC is being human (if he's human), and the conflict caused by such an action can be a really good element to have in your plot.

    Personally, I will hate your MC. He has sacrificed his entire world and hundreds (thousands? more?) of lives just for his own selfish ambition. Lover or not, the life of one person should never surpass that of hundreds. Yes, the decision is understandable, emotionally. But it is also illogical, and very selfish.

    Fixing the problem in the end may redeem your character a little bit, but the lives that have been lost are already irreplaceable, so I may always think sourly of him.

    Just my opinion of course. Cheers.
  4. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,217
    Likes Received:
    399
    Thanks for your responses.

    Would it be better if I make it that somehow my MC didn't know what he was doing? eg. my villain puts him in a trap, so my MC thinks he's doing one thing (some way of saving his lover), when in fact he ended up breaking the realm barriers? Would you still hate him then?
  5. CheddarCheese
    Offline

    CheddarCheese New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2012
    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Canada
    Remember not to focus on the fact that people might hate your MC. Focus on good writing. If hating your MC makes for a good book, then it's still a good book.

    In response to your question, if your MC didn't know that saving his lover would cause the barriers to go down, then I wouldn't hate him nearly as much. It was an accident, and the villan would take all of the blame. However, the MC's reaction to the event afterwards might change this. Does he regret the decision? Then I probably wouldn't hate him for it. Or is he relieved that he saved his lover, even with such an enormous sacrifice (he would do it again if it came to it)? Then I might think badly of him.
  6. Kaymindless
    Offline

    Kaymindless New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Beaumont, Texas, United States
    I guess I'm the odd one out. I wouldn't hate him. Would I see him in a different light, sure. But hate, no. Maybe disappointed if he's suppose to be the "hero."

    I dunno, maybe it's because while I'd like to think I would do the right thing, there's this little annoying realization that, if put in the situation of choosing between a member of my family and the world, I'd take the trigger myself and start killing innocents. (Sorry, family bond is as close as I get with that, at the moment.)


    I've sympathized with characters in similar positions in other books and movies/shoes, so, yeah, not gonna hate him.
  7. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,217
    Likes Received:
    399
    CheddarCheese, he'd regret it - since I've already written the first scenario (eg. him choosing to save his lover), all the while when he was breaking the barriers, guilt and regret was already eating through him - and that part was very good writing and I wanna keep it :D He was always gonna regret it, yeh.

    I'm gonna go with the trap idea. I just thought to myself that if this was somebody else's novel or film, I'd be groaning over the course of events if the MC was choosing to save his lover over the world - it just reeks of well, basically, the author throwing in something quite simple to MAKE something happen. It doesn't feel organic enough.

    Thank youuuu!

    So now, the villain's gonna present his lover in an encasement of crystal and basically my MC's gonna use his magical sword to slice through it - without knowing that this crystal was the embodiment of the realm barriers. (and in my rewrite, I'm gonna need to incorporate these crystals so the reader has some inkling of what it could be when they get to this scene) How does that sound?
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    39,810
    Likes Received:
    1,151
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    What will make your readers hate your MC, or not, is the writing. Period. If you're a good enough writer, you could make Adolph Hitler a relatable character. Of course, many people wouldn't read your story at all if you named him explicitly, but if you had a Hitleresque character and wrote him as a tragic character rather than as a genocidal monster, you could make the readers feel some sympathy toward him.

    An extreme example, of course, but one that makes the point. If your character's motivations are presented in the proper light, readers will relate to him. They might disagree with his choices, but still respect them and him.

    It's how you sell the character. If you want the character to be contemptible, show him as making weak, self-serving choices instead of ones built off a search for the greater good.
  9. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Well, the idea of 'hubris' would be a part of the plot.

    Let's suppose he was cognizant of the dangers, makes the deal, but places so much value on his own braggadocio that he thinks he beat every challenge. Perhaps being a slime might make people hate him, but being an idiot and getting in over his head is something we all do. I did it twice last Tuesday.
    1 person likes this.
  10. Metus
    Offline

    Metus New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2011
    Messages:
    139
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Omega 4 Relay
    No, I wouldn't hate him at all. There's a quote I once heard- I forget who by, but I think it applies here. (This isn't the exact wording, but it gets the point across.) "If I were given a choice to betray my friends or my country, god grant me the courage to stand by my friends."

    I wouldn't hate your protagonist, but how I would feel really depends on what your antagonist's goals are. If it's just an ordinary war with a winner and a loser and after the war the world keeps spinning, I'd be fine with your mc's choice. If, however, the world ends if the underworld wins, I would view your mc as a colossal idiot. But I still wouldn't hate him, assuming you wrote him well.
  11. Protar
    Offline

    Protar New Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    612
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    UK
    Personally I wouldn't change the story just to make the MC as likeable as possible. Some of the best characters in fiction are the morally grey ones, it's something I strive to achieve with my own characters. Now if your story is one of black and white morality, then you'd probably want to lean more to the accidental version of events, but if your story is more complex than that and you want some moral ambiguity go for the original option. If ever your book gets published and gains a following, people will be discussing the ethical implications of your characters actions, and I think it's great to get people's minds working like that.
  12. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    2,217
    Likes Received:
    399
    Thank you everyone - I found the responses about having an ambiguous character and that a character's bad choices can actually rouse sympathy in us and make him more human very interesting - hadn't thought of it that way, because I was too concerned with making the story work for a popular audience. And I also take Cog's point - I very much remember this WWII film (I say this, yet I forget its title! - the one about the week before Hitler's defeat) and Hitler was indeed portrayed as a tragic human being, and even made the audience understand the socialist's POV, while not condoning it at all. Fascinating film. (Ahh I remember now - it's called The Downfall!)

    I will stick with the trap idea, however, for this novel. I'm afraid to say I'm not so skilled that I can pull off a morally ambiguous character at my level right now - this is in its first draft state, towards finishing, and I have yet to add layers just for the world-building, let alone character building right now.

    Another reason, besides my slight lack of confidence, is that this novel is not the place to try such a feat, because I have my ending and that won't change - and it is that my MC is going to die, and come back to life, to portray a certain message and his resurrection is meant to be extremely symbolic. I feel that his coming back to life will become an anti-climax and make the reader feel cheated, actually, should my MC make such a morally dubious choice now - because then death would become his victory point, that he was able to finally sacrifice himself for the greater good rather than be selfish, and the resurrection would cheapen that. But the resurrection will happen and it is supposed to be a glorious conclusion and victory for the novel and my MC, a final revelation, actually where a mystery in the book is finally answered - nothing can ruin this. Thus, I will make my dilemma into a trap for my MC, because then his figuring a way out of his predicament and the world's predicament and righting his mistake without being "defeated in death", as it were, but rather defeating death, WOULD be a victory.

    Thanks all!! I'll bear the ambiguous character in mind - it sounds like something I'd love to try for a future novel!
  13. There_She_Goes
    Offline

    There_She_Goes Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2012
    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    1
    I think your MCs decision makes the story interesting. Of course I'd be furious with him for sacrificing so many lives but terrible things happen in novels and it's not new. So if you decide to make him hold on to his own personal needs, then take it as a chance to dive into his personality and make it compelling.

    Good luck!
  14. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    Haha! I hope so, as I have a Hitleresque character in my story ;)

    I think I prefer the idea of the MC being tricked into betraying his world rather than doing it voluntarily, because the man who would do that just to save a loved one is completely unheroic, and I would find it hard to forgive him, no matter how hard he tried to put it right afterwards.
  15. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Denmark
    Romeo and Juliet were selfish and careless and caused nothing but grief to themselves and others (admittingly not the best of people), but you still cheer for them because they want something good.
  16. suddenly BANSHEES
    Offline

    suddenly BANSHEES New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    350
    Likes Received:
    14
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Like Cogito said, it depends on the writing. Even if your MC were to do it voluntarily, it could either be frustratingly stupid or strangely interesting, depending on how the character is written.

    Personally, I'd prefer it if he was just a selfish character, and did it voluntarily - maybe not fully understanding the consequences of his actions, but at least knowing what he was doing. Just because he's the protagonist doesn't mean he has to be a total "good guy." The not-so-good guys can be just as fun to read about, if they're handled properly.


    On a side-note, don't worry too much if you ending is a little anticlimatic. Good Omens had the biggest anti-climax I've ever read, but it's still an amazing book.

    Good luck with your story! :)
  17. The Tourist
    Offline

    The Tourist Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2012
    Messages:
    1,095
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Wisconsin.
    Unless our OP wants to investigate the life of a conniver or a villain. In that manner, the plot would even be fun.

    Something like, "Iago and His Mother's Death Warrant."

    (Oy, there's another story I want to write...)
  18. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    This not really an analogous example. Romeo never had a direct choice between saving Juliet or saving the lives of multiple others. In fact very little of the carnage and mayhem surrounding the lovers in that play was directly caused by them - the feud between the families existed long before they ever fell in love, and indirectly caused their deaths, whereas their deaths ENDED the feud. I don't see that as comparable at all.
  19. HorusEye
    Offline

    HorusEye New Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    1,224
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Denmark
    I agree it's not the best of examples, and it's one I posted at the top of my head, however, I don't think it's entirely invalid either. First off, Romeo and Juliet were warned that their breaking the family rules would lead to disaster, and they disregarded the warnings. Second, the ensuing peace between the houses was entirely unexpected by them, so A: They pursued selfish goals despite warnings of disaster, and B: Disaster came, and peace came only because things were now unbearably bad - and even posthumously, in regard to the two main characters, so they could hardly be credited for it.
  20. W. E. Burrough
    Offline

    W. E. Burrough New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    48
    Likes Received:
    2
    Whether or not I hate your main character is entirely subject to my views of your writing skill. If, for example, you write about a, let's frisk the bottom of the social barrel here and say, sexual deviant you could still utilize him, or her, as an interesting focal point for your story. That is, if you're a skilled enough word-smith. A person with a strong grasp on the English language and, my personal belief, psychology can make any fictional person readable, not only that but enjoyable as well.

    Whether an action or thought can, by me, be considered logical or stupid is wholly dependant on what kind of personality your character possesses. Take, for example, a stubborn elf who only cares about self-preservation and is so persistent in its beliefs it's willing to die to defend them. Would it make sense for he/she to, uh, meet an elf of the opposite sex and have them change its mind when war and death could not? No, that situation would not be feasible. However, you can most certainly write about something that inane and sell books. I just won't be one of your buyers.
  21. Pyraeus
    Offline

    Pyraeus New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2012
    Messages:
    84
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Dundee, Scotland
    I like the idea, but I would change the way he saves his lover and dooms the world. Maybe instead of just cutting her out of the crystal, he could destroy some sort of object (For example, a jewel or orb, which he thinks will release her-which it does, at the same time destroying the barriers.)
    For added optional sympathy he could go on some sort of search for said object, and in the end, after destroying it to release his beloved, the villian reveals what the hero has done. How you portray his journey to find the object is up to you-you could have the story starting with him destroying the object, and flashing back and playing through his journey, or you could simply have him destroying the object, painting him as a selfish character, and through a series of flashbacks reveal everything he has had to go through, making the reader realise that he has suffered just as much as the world he inadvertantly betrayed.

    Well that suggestion turned out longer than I had expected.
  22. Endovert
    Offline

    Endovert New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2012
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Magrathea
    I think in modern times, one of the biggest factors is the "lameness" (for lack of a better word) of the love. Maybe a century ago, you could get away with something more Romeo & Juliet, with flowery words and loud proclamations of love, but now you have to be much more careful about the love story. In other words, is this sappy "I wuv U Sugarlips" love or more sensible and, well, modern, I guess. Because it doesn't have to do with the choice he makes so much as the love he's doing it for. If I'm not sick of the love story (i.e. it's not just all mush) then of course I'll be more likely to sympathize with the MC's choice.
  23. rubisco
    Offline

    rubisco Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2012
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    5
    People will do crazy things for love, this story would probably remind people of Helen of Troy, who many people died because a king (or Prince, I forget) wanted her (talk about your selfish reasons!) It seems to me that people have loved the story of Troy, so I think you will be safe. I also think many of the best motives for major plot development is stupidity (because many people can relate, not me, of course:p) What your character does after he realizes his stupid mistake is what will make this story (maybe another stupid/ignorant mistake?) See how deep you can dig the hole and still get your character out of it.

    It seems like your villian is one step ahead of your hero, you can either have your character somehow get a step ahead of the villian to overcome (using smarts/brawn), or he could, as the quote of Will Rogers goes, "if stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?" (basically somehow luck out, but it will be understood that he lucked out because of his good motives:)
  24. Birmingham
    Offline

    Birmingham Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    122
    Likes Received:
    1
    Both Jack and Tony had to face this dilemma in different seasons of 24 (season 1 for Jack, season 3 for Tony). So, it's not like you're going overboard with a good guy helping the villains in order to save a lover.
  25. molly16
    Offline

    molly16 New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2012
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    2
    I don't think characters need to be "likable" but rather they need to be realistic. Characters I "like" I wouldn't necessarily like to sit down with for tea.

    It's balancing good and bad, and saving his love at such expense is "bad" but he could grow from it; retaliate. Because a character does something wrong, the reader won't put the book down forever. They'll keep reading to see what happens next.

    Hope this helped!

Share This Page