1. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    Writing the devil

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by nippy818, Apr 26, 2015.

    Currently I'm deep into the second write through of my novel (I have a chapter posted in the workshop) and I am having trouble writing a pivotal moment and want to Tolkien it up and call the eagles. My character is sitting in a bar drinking with a huge choice to make and the pros and cons on each side make his indecisiveness to great for me to justify the action i have him take. So... I was thinking about having him have a conversation with Ole Scratch himself (Though it is never confirmed if the devil is there or if its just a hallucination) and is given some good guy Lucifer advice. (The character always sympathized with the way the devil treated mankind in other mythos. What I'm wondering is, is this a cop out or can it be done well.
     
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  2. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    It seems odd to me if you're throwing the devil into the story if he hasn't been a part of the story previously. Satan is a pretty serious character to throw in and out of the story just to aid a plot point, in my opinion.

    If he is a normal part of the story, then I'd say it makes sense. Otherwise, I'd try to think of a different way to go about it. Again, just my opinion.
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anything can be done. Is there president for something like this occurring already established in the novel?

    That said, if you as the writer don't buy into the direction/action the character takes, it's unlikely that many reader would as well.
     
  4. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    The main character is constantly battling the concept of God and killing in his name. He sees his father's version of God as peaceful and the Agency's God as vengful. He is facing a choice between returning to the agency and their God or staying in retirement with what he sees as his father's peaceful god.
     
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  5. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    I think it makes perfect sense in the context of your story then. I think if done well it would fit perfectly. I like the idea of it not being clear whether it's a hallucination; I think that would fit the character.
     
  6. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I should have given the context to start lol. So as for the devil himself I was thinking an older man, calm, intelligent and with kind eyes like a grandfather, the main character is going to be unaware that it's the devil, and it will never be explicitly said. It's going to be the name that gives it away to the reader. The story is written pov of the main
     
  7. VirtuallyRealistic
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    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

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    I like your concept for the character.

    Is he going to name himself, though? As in, will he say (paraphrasing), "Hi, I'm Lucifer," because if so I'd think your main character would be aware of whom that is. If he's a religious man, the name Lucifer should be a dead give-a-way. So, I'm not buying that he wouldn't immediately be made aware just by that statement. If it's given away to the reader in dialogue, then it is being given away to the character as well.

    Just some food for thought.
     
  8. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    No he is going to introduce himself as Mr. Scratch a less known title for the devil that could be lost by the year 2170.
     
  9. Some_Bloke
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    Some_Bloke Active Member

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    I didn't even know "Mr. Scratch" was a title given to Lucifer.

    In that case it makes sense then and you should go for it.
     
  10. Frankovitch
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    Frankovitch Member

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    Make him witty and suave.
     
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  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Wow. Old Scratch is very well known to me. What happened in the last 20 years for that title to die away, I don't know.

    Given your MC's struggles, perhaps the image that is conjured by the name "Old Scratch" could be juxtaposed against the canonical history of just who Old Scratch really is. Take a paint stripper to the uncounted re-imaginings and repurposing of Lucifer - by both the general culture and by the church - and you come back to a story where he was the most beloved and most beautiful of the angels. Therein is a parallelism that could be drawn upon.
     
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  12. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    I really like that idea. the characters real struggle is with the concept of God and his struggle with good and evil.
     
  13. mclaire22
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    mclaire22 Member

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    As one person said above introducing the Devil could drastically change the type of story you are going for. If you wish to tackle this, then also just try to be original I reckon. There are so many cliches about the Devil....it might prove to be a great investment in your creative time to come up with a unique devil. Once again this could drastically change your material.
     
  14. Wynter
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    Wynter Active Member

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    How would your character see the devil?

    As for how one would write the Devil in a story, I've never thought about it, although everything about the Devil in my view would be temptation. Silken Words, a tone which draws you in, makes you want to hear what he's saying, that kind of thing.

    Never heard of Old Scratch as an aside, probably shows how young I am/disinterested with religion.
     
  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure that Old Scratch is a great name to pick for a serious story. It's usually a comical name chosen to tell a non-serious story about the devil.

    I think, if you're going to go this route, you should make the encounter as sinister as you can. There is nothing more sinister that something terribly bad masquerading as something good. A kindly person who says exactly what the protagonist wants to hear, luring him into evil deeds. That's what you need, I reckon. It would be a good thing to NOT let the reader in on the Old Scratch concept until your protagonist realises it. The impact of that realisation will be memorable. Otherwise, we're just watching a tennis match between the devil and your character, wondering which one is going to take the final shot and win the game. That's a lot different from being lured into the decision-making, by hearing all the good reasons why the protagonist should do the wrong thing.

    I'd make this subtle. Make this devil into a person who really appears. The devil character could be a perfect stranger who buys your protagonist a beer and sits down with him. Maybe the stranger justifies this action by saying something like "you look like you're worrying about something big" and gets him to start talking. This is a common occurrence in places like bars, and no name exchanges need to be given, really. It's like striking up a conversation with somebody on a long-distance bus. You can exchange all sorts of very personal information, secure in the knowledge that you'll never see each other again after the time the trip is done.

    By the end of the conversation, when the protagonist realises who he's actually talking to, he can react in horror, or fear or triumph or whatever is appropriate to the story.

    The more realistic you can make a supernatural story, the more impact it will have. Calling the fellow Old Scratch (or some other devil nickname) just makes your protagonist look stupid. Probably better for HIM to recognise the true nature of the man he's talking to before the reader does.
     
  16. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    So what I went with was a bar scene. The way the devil appears and disappears sets it up so he could be real or a figment of the MC's imagination. I described him as an old man, kind in the eyes with the soft tone of a widower or a grandfather. He calls himself Mr. Scratch but the MC is to far into this spirits to notice. I don't have the manuscript on me but I can post a bit of hit here later tonight if anyone is interested.
     
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  17. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, if you could post enough to give us an idea of what you're doing, then we could maybe target our responses better. If you want a full critique, obviously the workshop is the place to post. But if you're just giving us a sample to illustrate your dilemma, then I reckon it's okay to post here?
     
  18. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Something good you can use for reference...

    Blood Meridian. The Judge is a character that represents the Devil really well. Int he first scene he is introduced he goes up to a preaching pastor, claims that the preacher is wanted and that he is as rotten as the church itself, saying he is a corrupt, money grabbing pedophile, and continues to toss the bible on the floor. Everyone cheers at the Judges speech but later admits that was the first time he saw the preacher.
     
  19. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    Here is the excerpt.
    “One of those days eh, Mr. Hernandez?” The question came from the stool to my right, the stool against the wall. In my quest to drink I missed the movement of a man next to me. I turned to face him, seeing a kind man's face. His voice matched the face, a face of an old man sitting in the park feeding birds alone because his wife had past. Never a sour word or tone, just the look of waiting, waiting for his turn to see his wife again, waiting for joy that was gone.

    “You could say.” I answered back. “Though I don't think I got your name.”

    “Mr. Scratch is fine. May I bum a smoke?” He asked in that same calm, grandfather's voice. I handed him a cigarette, he smiled as I ignited the end and he took a long drag. “You know Ryan, drinking isn't necessarily your best option here.” He worded it perfectly with my shot.
     
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  20. TheWingedFox
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    TheWingedFox Active Member

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    One of the disparities I find is that the devil/Satan/whatever-you-call-him is supposed to be the ultimate in evil, but is generally considered nowadays to be quite a charming nice guy now, and more of an anti hero.

    I think if I was to write him, there would be so many levels of wrong about him....making sly and hurtful comments about you personally but in a way that isn't obvious (we all know someone like that), a child abuser, laughs at other peoples problems and bereavements.....I'd want him to appear to be totally evil.

    But he does always seem to be portrayed as a nice guy. I wonder if that's become a cliche now. Or does the nice side of him take precedence nowadays. He seems charming in Faust.
     
  21. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    In my novel he doesn't have a big enough part to dive into that. This is his only apperance and though his tone and looks seem nice, I didn't post the entirety of their conversation. He isn't mean but I think the devil 2old get with the times, find ways to munipulate people without being seen as evil. He is the great liar after all.
     
  22. Megalith
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    Megalith Contributing Member Contributor

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    A wolf in sheep's clothing is more deceitful than a wolf who doesn't hide its true colors. For manipulating people, pretending to be the 'helpful' person just makes sense.
     
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  23. nippy818
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    nippy818 Active Member

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    So my beta readers finally read Scratches chapter. Out of eight readers only one thinks its too much and overall its well received. I have actually decided to throw him in one more time in a dream.
     
  24. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    Apologies for exhuming your quote @jannert , but I've only just chanced upon this thread with @nippy818 's recent update, and politely disagree with you.

    I like the choice of name. It's a bit self-effacing/"devil-may-care" (...sorry), which is exactly what I'd expect from The Deceiver: trying to be charismatic and build rapport with his temptee. And if it is an otherwise serious work, the juxtaposition of a single semi-comical character might trigger some alarm bells to help the reader identify his true nature (I'm assuming this is desirable).

    I agree with the others that the "false friend" devil is far more threatening/interesting than the "overt enemy" (at least in this context). Glad you're finding success with it @nippy818 :)
     
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  25. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    You DID say this:
    I don't see how your main character is not going to be aware of the coincidence. You expect the readers to 'get it' but somehow it passes your main character by? That doesn't make your MC the brightest light in the harbour, does it? If you just plop the name in there without any mention of the connection it will clonk the readers over the head with very unsubtle symbolism—and also make your MC look thick as a plank, because he doesn't get it himself. (Are there actually families out there named Scratch?)

    It would be great if you use it deliberately for a two-edged comic effect, though. You could have your MC react to the name, right away. Then the Scratch character could say that he's been plagued with that name all his life, people always made fun of him because of it, and it's made him think about the subject of the devil and god a lot. This will make the MC look less gullible, will give them an excuse to talk about the issue, and it will also make the readers unsure. This could be a win-win-win.

    If you bring the significance of the name into the conversation right away ...then the reader will get the 'devil' connection, but won't necessarily be sure if the guy is a real devil, or just some poor dude that got stuck with the name. And since the MC has identified the issue, he won't look stupid. So ...then is the Scratch guy genuinely trying to help the MC ...or is his advice more sinister? That ambiguity might be great for your story.
     
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
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