I just have a simple question when it comes to making villains

Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Loophole3232, Mar 11, 2019.

  1. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

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    You can't copyright a description. Like I said, so long as someone can't read your book and say "I know they were talking about X!" you're fine.
     
  2. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    Speaking of Vonnegut, he remembered a conversation he had with his father. His father said something like "You know, you never wrote a book that had a villain in it."

    Vonnegut replied, "That's one of the things I learned in the War."

    Which brings me to my next point. If you're going to make a villain credible or memorable, please, please, please don't make him just another embodiment of "pure evil." We've already had enough of them, thank you. Instead, give him a past that justifies or at least explains his evil. Give him a rationale for doing what he's doing. Show that by his own logic, he's doing what he thinks is the right thing for the circumstances, and that he's being pushed by those circumstances as much as he's pushing them.
     
  3. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    So I guess that means I can't base my idea off this person for my villain or else I'll get sued :(

    So I'm good then!? As long as it's not an identical description.

    But not this particular idea ;)
     
  4. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    You could get sued if you don't. But proving you did is hard to do unless you actually admit to it in front of witnesses.
     
  5. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    I agree but at the same time hasn't stories like this been overdone for bad guys? Not saying I would just make him some cliche laughing maniacally but he could be that high status guy who appears collected but underneath is a twisted psycho who does what he does as to him this is the best way to project ones power onto others.
     
  6. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    So I have to make sure it's not noticeable then?
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  7. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm saying you do you and use your best judgement. I'd avoid giving them the same name to be on the safe side, but barring that I find it unlikely they'd even notice.
     
  8. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    So say one was a teacher and the other a gym coach who were both abusive physically and sexually to me and other children. And say the teachers name was Joe who had a narrow face and pointy nose and the gym coach was Jim who had a shaved head, flat face and goatee.

    Say in my story Joe was not a teacher and his name is instead Barry who is an evil mage or general that cast evil spells or experiments on children to control them for his servants or private army and setting up attacks in diffetent parts of the world by controlling them, resulting in conflicts and wars. Barry would have a narrow face and pointy nose.

    And Jim was not a coach and was instead Murphy who was a sinister mayor or senate that wanted to fund children and parents brains into becoming robots, which they would only vote him and keep him supported as worshippers for the rest of their lives to keep his campaigns and evil doings going so he can one day rule the world or something. Murphy has a flat face, shaved head and goatee.

    Would something like this work without me worrying about a lawsuit or backlash?
     
  9. Fallow

    Fallow Member

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    The point of using a real person is to allow you to picture their actions and reactions, the way they speak and their expressions, posture, etc to make your writing more genuine. There is no reason that those behaviors need to be attached to a person that looks like your character model. And if you have any concern at all about keeping your sources anonymous, I would definitely not match behavior experienced by multiple other victims to an accurate description. Physical descriptions are not what books are about - the character lives and breathes behavior, not looks.

    Of course, if you want people to know what was done, a character who is not a teacher but looks, sounds and acts like Joe is going to put an accusation out in the world that Joe won't be able to actually say is libel because the only connection to him is his rough description and his crimes - not something Joe is going to want to cop to. But you're not asking how to get away with a public shaming, so that's beside the point.



    That's rough what happened to you and I'm sorry for it.
     
  10. Cephus

    Cephus Active Member

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    Exactly. It needs to be enough that the author knows where the inspiration came from, but absolutely nobody else ever does.
     
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  11. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    You're right that there are a lot of stories like this. The difference between a good one and a bad one is whether or not the bad guy is used simply as a device to get the main character in trouble. That sort of character I find as unsatisfying as a deus ex machina for getting the character out of trouble. But maybe that's just me. And I have to add that I'm approaching this as a reader or view, not as a writer.

    I can't say that the Marvel Universe baddies have been very engaging to me, but at least the writers give them a back story to explain their actions. Often, these back stories are only a device to establish the characters, after which they are free to be as maniacally bad as they please (I'm thinking Green Goblin here, but he's not alone). I do have to give Marvel credit for giving the audience what it wants to see, though.
     
  12. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    So what I can do is base his character model and features for my fictional bad guy but I should avoid the same kind of behavior he had in real life like his voice tone, his wordings, his poster and reactions and so forth? Like I can give him a new bad guy persona that is fictional and made up yet only I would be able to connect to who he really is being that he is still a bad guy and does bad things and shares appearances like face features to him is perfectly fine? Oh and I would absolutely not include any others who who victimized by him or the other man. everything else would be completely fictional, accept the fact that he would be a bad guy in my story and look like him in terms of facial features, structure. even his body size and height, hair and height I would alter so it's not as obvious.

    Thank you so much, I really appreciate your understanding.

    Thank you, that is exactly what I was asking. How can I do it properly? In my past this particular man had said very profane things to me and others as a child, cursing screaming loudly, threatening, using the A bomb, B bomb C bomb and even hitting and groping me in certain areas while screaming out "let me slap you around and call you..." things of that nature, especially using the M word and racial words a lot and using his finger in bad places. Yeah it was intense, he was almost like a cartoonish bad guy maniac villain that got off being sexual and physical to show his power in many ways and he's had that reputation. What should I do so it is not exactly like that but still makes a good bad guy/villain that everyone loves to hate? Would giving him a mix persona of something like Joffrey Baratheon and Negan do the trick? Appearance wise, he could still be the same but with altered aesthetics like hair and body size or something. I would keep him as a collected villain who's not all loud and maniacal as the real person he was but still make him manipulative and cunning?

    I see. I would give this bad guy depth so he is not just an excuse to drag the hero into the story and fight to stop the bad guy yadda, yadda, etc. I would even have the bad guy seem like the good guy at some points and the hero seen as a bad guy which is basically similar to The Fugitive, Minority Report or The Negotiator. I also agree on that maybe I would avoid making him a villain like in Marvel but perhaps something more like the attitude of Calvin Candie, Hans Landa, Ra's al Ghul, Coriolanus Snow, Negan or Joffrey Baratheon but still be his own character that is hated by the audience? Maybe I could make him like a Quentin Tarantino villain?
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
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  13. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    My take on this is that you can make your character do exactly what the person did in real life, if you want. As long as there is no chance anybody will connect the dots—or be able to identify who this real person might be—you should be fine. If somebody asks you if this is built on a real character, even if they know you and can name the character, look them in the eye and say 'no.'

    The real person is hardly going to come forward and insist that you give him credit for being a horrible person. And even if he does, you can simply deny it. Just be careful about not choosing similar names. If you can give the person different physical characteristics as well, so much the better. Presumably it's what this person DID—not what they looked like or what their name is—that's important to your story. This is where your imagination should come into play. If the bad person in your past had a flat face, you don't REALLY need to give your character a flat face, do you? Think of some other aspect of 'face' that you could invent for this character, that will make as strong an impression as the 'flat face' did on you. This is not an autobiography. It's fiction. So don't be afraid to change 'reality.' It will give you the scope to explore what happened to you, without creating backwash connected to real people.

    Just stick to the principle that nobody should be able to positively identify your 'character,' and you'll be fine. Write whatever you want.
     
  14. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    Thanks! I appreciate the advice. Yes I would use completely fictional names not even related or sounding like this persons real name. The problem with the physical description is that it makes me more comfortable if he has some sort of resemblance. I get what you mean by not making him look too identical and allow my creativity to flow in that regard. Like instead of a flat face, it's pointy, instead of brown eyes, they're black or green. Even hair change too but would it be bad if I gave him some facial appearances to have some resemblance but maybe just wider shaped or more narrow?

    This is not the real person but an example of what I mean by facial change description.


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    Now you can see how they don't really look alike but pretend they did and the real guy was the first one and the second guy is the made up one, slight changes to facial structure and maybe even some facial hair added with tattoos but have almost the same or similar facial characteristics. Could something like this work?


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Yes I know they don't look exactly alike but imagine they did and the real guy had Zuckerberg's facial structure but I widen it to look more like like Musk's wider face or widen the nose or make it smaller, would something like this work?

    Btw, this will be a graphic novel.
     
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  15. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're making this question more complicated than it needs to be. If you don't want people to make the connection between the real person and the character you're creating, you need to disguise the character. If that makes it more difficult for you to picture the character, etc, that's something you need to work on, until you can easily picture the new character. There isn't any third way, really. Either risk getting caught or ensure you don't.
     
  16. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    You mean there is no way they can share any physical resemblances? Not even a little? :(

    If I disguise him a bit so it will be harder for anyone to pinpoint him out, would that help?
     
  17. Fallow

    Fallow Member

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    No, I was trying to say pretty much the opposite. The point of using a real person is that it is harder to write how people act and talk than it is to make up a fictional appearance and resume. So you're using the behavior of a real person disguised by a different physical description and job.
     
  18. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    So then he shouldn't look a little like the real guy at all? Maybe I can do both? Have a bad guy that fits the physical description, maybe at least a little bit but has a completely different bad behavior and job that is not like the real guy. And have the real behavior of the guy used for a completely different physical description and of course different job too.
     
  19. Fallow

    Fallow Member

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    You can do anything you want, but you are receiving advice from people that believe your motivation for using these real people is that it makes it easier to deliver a genuine sounding bad guy to the page. Why do you feel recycling a physical description would make your piece better fiction?

    Keep in mind that writing is not a visual medium and your physical descriptions of characters are largely unimportant for making the story go. The bad guy could go from having a big nose to a small one and that would not change the reader's experience at all.
     
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  20. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    I know it's something I just can't help to do, guess it makes me feel better or helps me even use an inspired design based off a real bad person rather than influenced off of someone famous that is already well known to the public. What if I just changed his hair color and style, his dress style, accent? Change his favorite color even? It's just I have so many good ideas on how to exaggerate hi's features to fit my characters design and personality rat if I don't use it might end up degrading my creativity I had planned for it.

    I know it's actually because I'm making this into a grapid novel with visuals like a comic but the story is important too.
     
  21. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

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    As jannert said: you are making this too complicated.

    You can make them look almost exactly the same. You can make them sound the same. You can make them psychologically same. Just put them to different town/city and add few details and take some details away.

    Then you tell that "My lawyer advised me to tell that this is fiction and all similarities to real persons or happenings are coincidents."
     
  22. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Member Supporter Contributor

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    "Excuse me sir, I'm with Wanger, Johnson, and Hause. My client, Mr. Diddleywink, seems to think that a certain character in your novel is a representation of him."
    "Well, this character's defining characteristics is that he's a pedophile with a tiny wiener, is your client admitting to either of these things? Besides, my Mr. WiddlyDonk wears glasses."
    "Check and mate," says the Judge. "Case dismissed!"
     
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  23. Fallow

    Fallow Member

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    Well, now you're talking about something completely different if your work will have pictures of the people you're talking about.
     
  24. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    Sorry I don't mean to :(

    Okay great! That should be easy for me to do. But if he does notice and gets any of his lowlife friends, relatives, his wife and a few women that he's brainwashed and manipulated in real life (this really happened and yes he tried to do the same to me as a child) and gets them to side with him on some case against me, would I still be protected from any of his accusations? Though I'm sure I can disguise it enough somehow. Thanks for the advice!
     
  25. Loophole3232

    Loophole3232 Member

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    :D

    I guess I don't have to worry about him then. Unless he's really willing to confess to his unsolved crimes, he'd be better off just letting me write what I wanna write for his own sake.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2019

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