Tags:
  1. Croga
    Offline

    Croga Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1

    would you read a story lacking a strong protagonist?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Croga, Sep 23, 2011.

    Writing a story where the Antagonist and protagonist are both morally corrupt.
    The goals they wish to achieve are unclear and there motives strong, but ultimately both are criminals.
    Both are focus's of the Narrative. would you invest time in such a novel? would you read if you were unclear who to follow or who to hate?
    I have my reasons for using the above and think that they are important enough to push on regardless of whether this is an issue, but I'm curious how such a book would be viewed.
     
  2. prettyprettyprettygood
    Offline

    prettyprettyprettygood Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 8, 2011
    Messages:
    452
    Likes Received:
    46
    Location:
    Edinburgh
    If its a good story in other ways I don't think I'd be bothered about there not being a clear good guy/bad guy divide, if that's what you mean? It all depends on the story and how its written, really but from the information you've given, I wouldn't be put off :)
     
  3. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    Actually, I personally think that stories with more murky story lines and character types are better to read. They really challenge you as a writer and a reader.

    There are things you should avoid doing, though. Like, if it's "suddenly" revealed at the end that both characters are morally corrupt, the reader can feel cheated, but if we have time to actually get used to the fact that yes, everyone's corrupt, it can be an extremely rewarding read.
     
  4. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I have read novels where both protagonist and antagonist were thieves, but still made you root for the protagonist, because his motivs were different than the antagonists. This might be a lame example in comparison to what you're thinking of, but it's just to show it can be done, if done with care. I think it's the personality and motivs of the protagonist that are determining if it will work or not. But I think if you're supposed to pull it off you actually need a strong protagonist or at least someone who we can understand/admire, even when he's doing things that are/could be considered "wrong", plus an (power-wise) even stronger antagonist.
     
  5. Croga
    Offline

    Croga Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Crucifiction: The first is revealed to be a domineering and manipulative so&so with the first two pages, through Dialogue and actions not me saying so. The other takes the bulk of the first chapter in the hope that this subtle initial spotlight will weigh interest in him.
    To Tesoro and Prettyprettyprettygood One Is more powerful and the other is more sympathetic, but after that there self rightious, self centered and dangerously deluded. One commits crimes, but in weird taught processes justifies it while the other just commits them to get by.
     
  6. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,055
    Likes Received:
    5,256
    Location:
    California, US
    I've read a great book where the protagonist was thoroughly immoral, unlikeable, and beyond redemption or any kind of admiration. His motivations were not in any way high-minded, nor was the fact that he was an utterly despicable human being understandable or presented as necessary to understand. So yes, it can be done.
     
  7. CULLEN DORN
    Offline

    CULLEN DORN Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2011
    Messages:
    82
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Florida

    Sounds good to me already. Forge ahead!
     
  8. mugen shiyo
    Offline

    mugen shiyo Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    12
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Do you mean a strong protagonist as in strong in character, or did you mean writing a story where there is no one definably leading character in it?

    If it's the later, I don't think I've ever read the like. There's always a man or a small group of men the story centers around unless it's a documentary of some sort. (hmmm...imagine a fictional documentary) Doesn't seem to be interesting in concept, though. If it's the former, I guess you are meaning someone who is weak or socially ineffectual. I would say certainly, you can make a story from that. Can't think of a book like that, but a story example would be Napoleon Dynamite.
     
  9. jimr
    Offline

    jimr Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2011
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    I enjoyed The Stranger and the theme of that novel is that the protagonist is so unlikable that and unemotional that he is executed for murder. But, to address your question directly, Croga, I personally prefer sharply defined goals (and those goals can change for a character dramatically but I want to know what they are) but whether those goals are moral does not matter much. I think writing style has more to do with my enjoyment than anything; how characters react to external forces scene by scene.
     
  10. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I loved Perfume and the MC was a murderer and described as sub-human - in fact you were definitely meant to hate and love the character at the same time. You're thoroughly disgusted by him and all his thoughts and actions, not a single one of them can be justified, and yet you are thoroughly fascinated by his character. Makes a terrific read!

    In other words, if you pull it off, it could be truly excellent.
     
  11. TerraIncognita
    Offline

    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

    Joined:
    May 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,339
    Likes Received:
    40
    Location:
    Texas
    I definitely think it can be done. Truth be told not everyone is as perfect or upright as they like to think. We're all human and are corrupt in some way or another. There is no such thing as a perfect person.

    Motivation can change how a reader views a character even if they do things others find to be terrible. Robin Hood for example, he's a thief but people applaud him because he does it to help others. Then there's times when someone is thrust into a situation where they have to choose to hurt someone for the greater good or let the larger number of people die or suffer. Sourcecode was a good movie example of that. It's told more from the victim's viewpoint so naturally we'll sympathize more with him because the group in charge of the program is cast in a negative light. Without giving too much away about the movie it's basically one group trying to do something for the greater good and putting a single person in a bad position in order to accomplish that.

    If you had a family that was starving and you chose to shoplift to feed them you would see that as being necessary to help others. The store owners would see you in a negative light for being a thief. So the lines can be blurred easily and the gray areas make the story more interesting in my opinion. Make sense? :)
     
  12. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?

    Write the story. If it's well written and the characters are intersting, people will read it.

    Ever hear of the TV show Dallas? J. R. Ewing was utterly despicable, but the series was so popular it inspired a new genre of prime time dramas centered around corrupt families.
     
  13. Croga
    Offline

    Croga Member

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Thanks for the opinions and/or advice guys.
    As said in the first post this was not asking for permission I'm writing anyway. was curious how others may few though.
    Pleased to be honest, while aware of films with Gray morality was concerned about books since they reveal so much of a character.
    Cogito have read that already and heard of Dallas.Seen JR get shot, but have never watched the show unfortunately.
     
  14. Aspiring Author
    Offline

    Aspiring Author New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2011
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would prefer it. Books that allow the reader pick favorites without the author telling them who they are SUPPOSED to like or be loyal to have always been my favorite. Think The Iliad
     
  15. suddenly BANSHEES
    Offline

    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Messages:
    307
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ
    Couldn't have said it better myself.
     
  16. Oscillate Wildly
    Offline

    Oscillate Wildly New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think that as long as I can feel some sort of connection with the main guy(s), then it will probably be a pretty good story. If there is no sense of a connection, I personally would get bored in about 30 minutes. Even if it's an unlikable character, you should feel a connection and have some sense of backstory.
     
  17. ShadowScribbler
    Offline

    ShadowScribbler Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    0
    The main character of a story isn't always the good guy. I have noticed that my favourite characters are rarely the main ones, actually -- because good guys are definitely overrated. Give me an antagonist that is as or more developed as your protagonist, and you'll have given me a great story. Just make sure you like your character, or else it'll come across in your writing, that you don't care for him/her.
     

Share This Page