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  1. Anonymouzz

    Anonymouzz New Member

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    Characters/Villains Do things just because they want to??

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Anonymouzz, Aug 13, 2017 at 4:15 AM.

    Can a serial killer go around killig people just because he wants to? He has no reason for doing it other than he likes to kill

    A rich man robs a bank just for more money. No other reason than to simply get more money to add to his already full bank account.

    I know the question is weird but i wonder can characters/villains just do things just because with no real reason behind it?

    Why or Why not?

    I ask this because ive come across so many movies and tv shows, especially movies where characters and villains do things just because. Especially heist movies where wealthy characters rob casinos or banks just because they been doing it for years and thats how they got rich in the first place. Like there are never any "real" motives behind the things these characters and villains do.
     
  2. Twist

    Twist Member

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    Personally, I'm good with that kind of thing. I think you just need an interesting or at least entertaining personality to go along with it.

    That said, "I want more money" and "I like it" kind of are reasons, aren't they? Not very moral or fleshed out reasons (though I'm sure they could be), but still reasons.
     
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  3. Anonymouzz

    Anonymouzz New Member

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    i feel the same way, to me someone wanting to contonue robbing banks to fund they lifestyle is a good enough reason for me to read the book but not everyone agrees with that and i honestly want to know why not?
     
  4. Trish

    Trish Lost... could someone please come find me? Contributor

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    Generally speaking, yes, it's enough.

    That's not really the truth though, is it? The serial killer could just like killing people, but they still have an MO. Yes, sometimes their MO is that they don't have an MO, except that they still do - whether it's crimes of opportunity, the desire to kill people with certain mannerisms, people that piss them off by bumping into them on the subway, etc. They become addicted to the adrenaline rush, and then have to do more, sooner, to keep the high going. It's like a drug.

    The same goes for bank robbers. Some of them like the challenge. Some of them start because they're gamblers and have to pay off a debt, need money for medical bills, don't think they should have to work, etc. Then they become addicted to the adrenaline rush they get from pulling it off.

    So, you can say there isn't a reason - except that there is always a reason (unless they're a robot or something and even then they still have a reason because they've been programmed). Just because the reasoning isn't developed in the story line doesn't mean it isn't there. If it's a key plot point for the MC and the reason isn't included, I feel like that's lazy and it would annoy me.
     
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  5. Moon

    Moon Member

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    Yep, like Trish said, there is always some reason for the killer to kill. Doesn't have to be the "My family was murdered and now I kill people to spite the world that failed to protect them oh is me oh is woe," but its always something. Boredom could be the killers reasons and it wouldn't bother me a cent. Might even be pretty funny to read honestly. The Joker is a good example, I think, of a killer without any "emotional" or "deep" story behind him. Since I don't keep up with comics I can't really say if he's the greatest example, but from memory, I don't remember any backstory from him that was deeply moving or anything. Then there is his incarnation from that latest Batman movie, the one when Batman spoke like he had throat cancer (No offense to people with throat cancer), Joker was pretty insane in that and played a good villain.
     
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  6. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    There is always a reason, but, that doesn't mean we will know it or understand it. For example, look at substance abuse victims. We can know what the problem is, 'the guy's an alcoholic'; but we can't relate or understand his decision making that can lead to such destructive behavior. Take the Nazis at the end of WW2. They diverted precious resources away from Germany's war effort in order to continue the Holocaust. Evil can be very irrational, but, it is always destructive and self-destructive at that.
    Or, there is always the 'crazy like a fox' villain. Like the guy who becomes a serial killer because he intends to kill his wife and make it look like she's a victim of the serial killer.
    Godspeed!
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017 at 6:14 AM
  7. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I kinda have to disagree.

    Addicts aren't victims. I know, I am one. I do it because I like it. And so does every other addict I've ever met. Even if you get withdrawal symptoms when you don't use; that doesn't mean that you need to get high. You could just take enough to be ok, not be high and be a normal human being. So why do we still get high? Because we like it. It's just that simple. Most addicts won't put that ahead of the rest of their lives; there comes an understanding that if you want to get high in a months time then you need to keep your job. But some people just say fuck it and get high anyway. And that's because they like it too much.

    As for the Nazis, it's almost the same reasoning. Not so much in terms of 'liking'. But they put resources into the holocaust specifically because that was a bigger priority to them than fighting the war. Hitler partially invaded the USSR because he saw Communism as a jewish thing that he had to wipe out. I agree that it seems irrational to care about wiping out your own people when the Russians are banging down the door. But the Russians did the same thing. They shot huge numbers of Soviet citizens during the war in the East. And the answer in both cases is because both sides felt it was more important to wipe out the enemy within than to actually get on with fighting the actual enemies without. They were both obsessed with subversion and paranoid about anyone with other beliefs living in their society.

    These things aren't irrational. They might be wrong, absolutely. But they aren't irrational. There's a logic to how they worked. If you assume that it is 100% true that a group in your society is actively working against the rest of the country and has a goal no less than of enslaving and stealing and destroying your nation; if you assume that this is actually true then it is not irrational to murder them all. It's horrible and it's inhuman and it's lots of awful things. But it's not irrational. Clearly you need to stop the people these people oppressing you somehow and at the extreme end of the list of ways to do that is to kill them all. Especially if you believe that these people will always and forever work against you, that they have some shadowy mechanisms of power to wield against you and that just having them living in your society is dangerous then, well, the logic checks out you know? If all these things are 100% true then it is rational to do that. How you got to the point of believing all of these things is another issue but if you do then it makes logical sense.

    Same for us junkies; it makes logical sense to get high. For us, we don't understand how you can not get high. The drugs work so why would you not do that? It's the best thing you can feel in your life. So why would anyone not do that? Why don't you want to be drunk? It's way better than sober and that's for damn sure.

    How does this apply to serial killers? Well, because serial killers absolutely can just be people who enjoy killing. It's more likely that they get aroused by killing (there's a reason why serial killers vastly disproportionately target women) but that's under the same rubrick; it's intensely pleasurable for them to kill people. And if that is true then why would you not kill people? In most cases serial killers are almost anhedonic when they are not murdering; they find it impossible to take fulfillment from anything else. So if killing is the only thing that feels good to you and everything else makes you cripplingly miserable then it's not irrational to kill people. Again; it's wrong to kill people. But once you've already killed someone then does it even matter that much if you kill some more? A lot of serial killers actually don't know how much they will enjoy killing. They find out almost by accident; something goes wrong in the process of committing a lesser crime and they kill someone and suddenly see that they have a massive erection.

    Now, it's a much more complicated question as to why exactly killers like killing. That's incredibly complicated so much so I won't get into it here. There will always be some complex psychological reasons that makes this specifically feel good to them. No-one is just a 'born killer'. Killers are made. And what made them is definitely a story into itself. You do need to know how they were created and that's important. Even if you never tell the audience what those reasons are you need to know as the author. From the reader's perspective it's ok to have a killer who just likes killing; most killers do. But as you write you need to be creating murders for them that click with them. No killers will just kill anyone with no provocation. Their true 'kills' (the ones where they aren't in danger and choose to murder) will always be a certain type of person and they will have their rituals to go with it. You have to build up a sense of reality and consistency in the killer and understand why these murders feel good to them specifically. You don't need to tell the reader but you do need enough to show that this is a real person with a real thought process that makes sense even if the reader doesn't see what that is. They kill with a knife for a reason, and they always will because shooting someone doesn't feel good to them. It matters to build this sense of reality into a character.

    This stuff is how you make the audience want to know exactly what happened to this person and how they ended up this way; by showing us that the kills mean something specific and not telling us what that is.
     
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  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Oh where to start with this one. :P Contributor

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    I think lack of establishing a reason, is kinda one dimensional.

    Serial killers often target proxies, that remind them of the person
    that has caused them to kill in the first place, while leaving that
    person alone due to some personal connection. And rarely kill
    that main person that caused them to go off on a killing tangent
    to begin with.

    Stealing to fill full coffers. Simple. The challenge and the pay off
    of getting away with it. And greed.

    So yes you can have wanton pointless villains that just do things
    for no logical reason, but they don't exactly have a lot of depth
    for their actions.
     
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  9. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    You are absolutely correct. I should have wrote that something appear irrational because we can't see the reasoning behind it. And, just because a reason isn't grounded in logic doesn't mean it's not a reason. I used 'victim' when describing addicts because, coming from a family rich in history of substance abuse, I see the user as the ultimate victim in the end.
     
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  10. surrealscenes

    surrealscenes Member

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    You can write whatever you want, but if you want to sell it, you will need a reason. If you read the scripts for those movies you have seen I am sure they contain a reason, Remember a movie is a work made by many people at many levels and things get cut for a number of reasons.
     
  11. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well we can agree to disagree on drug abuse :p

    But yes, I agree absolutely about the appearance of irrationality. That's something important when we're talking about murderers. Because, in a sense, all murderers appear irrational. Not because they kill, but because of how they kill, specifically how they target people that are no danger to them. Even those who are hyper-pacifistic understand why a soldier kills an enemy, or why a policeman might shoot a criminal; they might disagree with those actions but they can immediately see why those actions were taken. And that's the unique thing about murderers, because they are inscrutable to people outside their own head.

    In fiction you need to present a murderer who has the right balance. They do need to appear to be random or irrational. They need to be an unknown because things are much scarier when we don't know why and it's good to build up that feeling that they could strike at anyone and will never stop. But they also need to have some semblance of order to them. We need to see that what they are doing makes sense to them. We don't need to see why because that's a bit too much to make them scary, but we do need them to feel like they are acting with some kind of purpose.

    We need to draw a line between appearing irrational or random and things actually being irrational and random in this discussion too. Because I think we all agree that you can't (or shouldn't) write a character who literally has no motivation. That's hyper shallow. But I don't see a problem (per se anyway) with a murderer who's true motivation we never see. I mean, Hannibal Lecter was vastly scarier when we just didn't know why he killed people. We were left to presume that he did, but we didn't know. Hannibal Rising actually harmed the character because now we know he is less scary. So it can be a good thing for us to never really know or understand why.

    There must be something to understand and that has to be something the audience can feel. But we don't need that to ever be seen. Maybe the investigators can start to tease out a thread or have a theory, but you can totally end up with them being wrong or at least not having the whole picture.

    Yes indeed, and that's something that you definitely need to have in a killer. You need to have a victim profile for them. We don't need to know why or who but we do need to see the link between the people that he's killing. Ideally you don't want it too obvious. Someone killing blonde women in their 40s is almost certainly going after a mother or similar mother-figure and so that's not really interesting because we can just immediately see that. But a killer who wipes out whole families and we can't see exactly where the links are or even where to look for them is way more interesting to work with. And it's this kind of stuff that can make things your killer suitably enigmatic if you don't want him to ever have his real motivations revealed.
     

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