1. TheDarkWriter

    TheDarkWriter Active Member

    Jul 27, 2012
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    Do They Need To Be Relatable or Sympathetic?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TheDarkWriter, Jan 28, 2017.

    My main characters (my MC and his love interest) are both very damaged people and the idea is that in any other story they would be villains but the point of the story is that there are no good guys just bad guys and worse guys. They basically are not well adjusted and are together because of a mutually beneficial alliance however there is severe codependency between them.

    They both have similar powers both revolve around controlling people and both have the same or rather similar insecurities he craves loyalty and she craves love. However when it comes to when one becomes hurt they will each go ballistic even though through out the story both make each other miserable the idea is that even though they hurt each other they are the only ones who truly understand one another.

    My only problem is that they are pretty much villains who hurt other people for the woman it's usually in the heat of the moment or if she's in one of her as the MC often put's it "moods" like she's been through lots of trauma and is severly emotionally scarred to the point being easy to set off basically she's the emotionally unstable one. She's like West from Emerald City.

    The MC is always out to gain more power and status(he's the ambitious and cool headed one) because he's been weak and helpless before and so he never wants to be weak and powerless. The way they met is he used his power to enslave her and bend her to his will(something that happened to her many times) ironically he's the first to really not treat her badly at least by her standards which are no physical acts of violence at worst he's very critical of her.

    I just worry they are too intense and dangerous to be received well as main characters.
  2. A.V.K.

    A.V.K. Member

    Oct 6, 2016
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    They need to have clear motives and reasons behind those motives. That's really true for almost any character, but with characters like these, you gotta go one step further beyond making them relatable or sympathetic if they are going to be main characters.

    Darker characters as main characters have to have some redeeming qualities to be among the main characters. Whether they end up getting redeemed or not, the hook of a character that does really bad things is not that they are relate-able in doing those bad things, but they have or will have a conflict between a redeeming quality of themselves and the bad things they do.

    I can give a character the most tragic backstory in the history of ever and make them super relatable as to why they do things, but if they keep being a dark unlikeable murder mind-control machine then they are still going to be uninteresting to read. Sympathy may be useful in setting up or eventually broadening the picture of a character, but it's not what keeps people around to see what the character will do next.

    Put the character in a situation where they forgo doing a bad thing and show a spark of something redeeming in them, and it makes it interesting to stick around to see if these characters will choose to improve upon and go with that redemptive spark or choose to snuff it out entirely.

    To go with an example from some pop-culture: This is how characters like Walter White work. He wants to provide for his family (redemption!), but also becomes intoxicated with the power and influence he can have as he makes drugs and climbs to the top of the local drug rings. He commits some very bad things, but he remains interesting because there is always that conflict there. Will Walt quit the drug ring and move on with himself and his family? Or will his pride and addiction to power get the better of him? That's the centeral conflict that keeps Walter interesting. If we know that he goes irredeemably bad then he ceases to be an interesting character.

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