1. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    Need help. / Writing problems

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by GH0ST, Jun 17, 2017.

    I am writing an origin story for a superhero. The concept is about a man who thinks the law is a flawed idea and that if you want true justice it can't restrict you. So what I need is to make this guy have enough motivation to become a vigilante. I have a few ideas and I hope you could give me some. Also, feel free to share your own problems or even stories.
     
  2. rktho

    rktho Contributor Contributor

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    The obvious choice would be to have him wronged by the justice system.

    What if the woman he loved was framed for murder, then the real murderer killed her, but the court ruled it a suicide and she died presumed guilty, while her killer is still at large, and he's trying to track down the person who murdered her?
     
  3. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    It is so awesome that you replied! I can't however use the concept you gave me, cause I am having some restrictions (heh, the irony). The origin story must not be too long and complicated. Additionally I have to make this guy a ninja (confidential reasons); but that's my personal worry. Your idea is very cool, but above all the stuff I wouldn't be able to use because of restrictions, I think it would just be too long. Still, thanks for help mate!
     
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  4. RWK

    RWK Member

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    Define what his perception of justice is.

    Is he going to kill people as punishment? If so, what method will he use to determine their guilt? If a guy robs a store, and in the stress of the moment and his own inexperience with firearms (most criminals have little skill or training) he accident shoots and kills the clerk. Does this split-second of clumsiness warrant the criminal's death?

    'Justice' is just a word, and one you will have to define. Very seldom to the victim's family gain significant comfort for what happens to the suspect, so why is your ninja taking action? As a self-appointed agent of revenge, murdering people on flimsy evidence. Society as a whole is indifferent, as we know. Nothing he will do will undo the criminal's actions or bring comfort to the victim's family.

    You are going to have to come up with a compelling reason for the MC in order to differentiate him from the very people he is stalking.

    Perhaps he was abused as a child? A large number of your RL vigilantes were molested as children.

    You are going to need a very compelling basis for the MC to believe that his snap judgement is more reliable than the Bill of Rights and the entire legal system. There is also the issue of what he or she will do if innocent bystanders get in the way. Are they expendable or acceptable collateral damage in his self-appointed crusade?

    Just spit-balling. Good luck with your project.
     
  5. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    You are amazing. I mean, the way you compose sentences is fascinating. Anyway, you said that nothing my main character will do will undo all the crime. I agree with that. However it would be good for my character to have a desire to change the system. He wants to be "the one above the law", to become the anomaly that will destroy the justice system. His actions would not be about punishing criminals (well, that too), but about something more (like fighting corruption perhaps). But that is just a general motivation of that hero. My problem is the origin story. Thanks for the reply, sir.
     
  6. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    Cults and religions typically undermine law, instead holding sacred the cult's doctrine or cause. If your superhero was trained in martial arts, the philosophy of the school could be cult-like, giving your superhero the mindset of transcending the law of men.
     
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  7. RWK

    RWK Member

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    That is good! It explains why he would see himself as being above the law while condemning those who also live outside the law. I was thinking mental illness to explain that contradiction, but yours is better. It would also explain his view that he somehow has the right to choose what system others will live under, or not, without any consideration for those peoples' wishes, hopes, or desires.

    Raised in some militaristic, violent cult that sees itself outside society would give him the skills and the narrow belief system that would work perfectly. Throw in a murdered first girlfriend and he's ready to snap and start hurting people simply because he doesn't like the way they live.

    What would even be better is after 80k words of him beating to death various persons based on assumptions of guilt made on the spot, the reader finds out that the MC actually killed the girl in the first place because she rejected him.

    That would make an amazing story.
     
  8. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    It would. But unfortunately I can't use it. I mean, the cult idea is nice, I was thinking about it; I also thought about mental illness. But overall concept is way too long for me to use (like I mentioned, I have some restrictions).
     
  9. RWK

    RWK Member

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    I figured as much; I just got caught up in the idea.

    Good luck with your project!
     
  10. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    So I have this idea that main character is part of modern ninja group (he joined them because he thought they act outside of the law). There are on the mission. Something happens there. After returning to base, Main Character argues with his Master. That leads him to abandoning this group. He decides to act alone as a man who is not bound by rules or limitations. And that is basically it. I only need to figure out what needs to happen on the mission in order for him to leave that ninja brotherhood.
     
  11. Myrrdoch

    Myrrdoch Active Member

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    He sees one of his ninja buddies talking to some cops about their mission, showing that the ninjas are actually working with the law? Or something?
     
  12. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    I thought about something more dramatic. It must be something that breaks main character a little. I had an idea, that during this mission ninjas had got a clear order to do or not do something, which leads to something bad. That would be enough for main character to argue with his Master and leave this group. The only problem is, what should this mission be about?
     
  13. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I think your guy is someone rather different. I think he's a hardcore libertarian or anarcho-capitalist. I think that he sees himself as 'the only sane man' and by his own moral code he sees criminals as having voided their rights to societal protection and thus has an absolute right to mete out whatever punishment that he sees fit. He sees criminals as infringing on the liberties of others; as fundamentally incompatible with civilized living. I think he always had this idea of politics; a deeply self-reliant, individualist who doesn't quite understand why other people can't just live out in the wilderness like he can. He doesn't really sympathize with victims; he just sees it as his civic duty to ensure that those who break the constitution (or your local equivalent) are punished. You clearly can't count on the cops to do that, because the cops are instruments of government not justice, so he does it himself as much as he can. This guy definitely needed some kind of run in with criminals to push him out into hunting them down but there's a twist; he sort of blames himself for being victimized. By the an-cap/libertarian view of the world if you are victimized it's kinda your fault for not protecting yourself properly; if you want to keep something then you have to be ready to defend it. And he wasn't. But now he is. And he sees it as totally acceptable for him to attack or kill people who breached the non-aggression principle.

    I like this approach for a few reasons. Firstly, from his point of view he's never doing anything wrong. He firmly believes that criminals are asking for it, literally, and it's the duty of all people to stand against such people. But it means that he's not especially earnest about protecting people. He doesn't see himself as doing that. In fact he kind judges everyone else for not doing what he does and he doesn't see why the police would have a problem with what he's doing. This has some nice knock on effects; he's a maverick unknown so you can take his character wherever he needs it. Equally you can bring him into conflict with the police and normal people as much as with criminals because they have vastly different views of the world. He's not between the two, he's out on his own.

    Additionally this approach has lots of interesting stuff you can do with it. His philosophy can be quite convincing, especially if he's charismatic in how he does it. He might win over friends in the police (or anywhere) who buy into the fact that he's doing this to people who deserve it and they shouldn't feel bad for working towards that. But at the same time there's all kinds of interesting wrinkles. He can't ever actually reduce crime, he can only punish people who commit it. And from his point of view that's absolutely fine because people all have the choice to commit crime and face the consequences. But of course this means that really he's just another kind of street gang. He's not even trying to make anything better, he's just taking revenge. And you can put him in conflict with villains who, on the surface, are more laudable human beings than him. You can make him fight with someone who is actually trying to make the world a better place, just using questionable methods. To someone like the hero that sort of villain is hyper evil because he's taking away people's right to choose but you can show that the villain has good motives and that in fact maybe if he was just allowed to win then the world would be a better place. Equally you can put him in conflict with conniving, clever villains who don't do anything to actively earn his ire. The hero knows this guy is up to no good but by his own principles he can't just shoot him because he hasn't done anything wrong, yet anyway. And a clever villain would never cross the line and laugh as the great vigilante can't touch him because otherwise he becomes just as bad as the people he stops.

    This would give you a sort of weird, complex vigilante with lots going on. He thinks that he has to do what he does, even when he's tired and doesn't want to keep on. His principles push him to keep going on and on, it's the only option by his view of the world. He doesn't expect praise, he doesn't expect rewards, he expects absolutely nothing from his actions. And he can be beset by both the rest of society and the villains, both of whom believe in working together and in a wider societal goal that this guy doesn't really understand.

    It's a hero who no-one thinks is a hero, even him.
     
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  14. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    It is a cool idea. It is a concept that has place somewhere in my head. However I don't want him to fight crime directly. For my main character it is something like: You can't stop crime by fighting it. Because crime is just a result. A side effect of law being what it is. In that case, this hero would not focus on punishing criminals. He would focus on fighting against what he considers as the biggest crime of mankind: Law.

    My only problem is that this whole concept works well with him being a former police officer, and I have to make him a ninja. He could be both really, but it would take too long to explain in a short origin story I must write.

    As for the villains, I would never make an antagonist "who is evil for sake of being evil". Cause just as you said you can be a good man, have a good purpose and still be a villain of the story.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  15. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    I think you'll have a hard time making someone who is focused on attacking the law specifically sympathetic. It's a kinda villainous thing to be saying 'you people and your laws are holding me back' and I know that's not quite what your guy is saying but it's not a million miles away either. I think the problem is that it inverts the normal sense of how we see these things. We normally see the law as being a great good; it's just that the reality of the law with it's corrupt cops and bastard lawyers that make it into something that doesn't work. Now, if your guys was against them then that would work fine. After all, who is a greater villain to that kind of person than a corrupt cop because he did it as someone who is supposed to be protecting the law. But if he sees that the law in general is a bad idea then he's kinda a terrorist if he literally attacks the concept of law.

    Even the weird an-cap types don't think that the law itself is bad and needs to be destroyed, they think it's unnecessary. The law isn't their enemy, it's just a natural consequence of an over large state. They feel that laws restrict freedom and thus doing away with it increases freedom. But again, their opponent is really the state. The law is just the codified extension of the state, not an evil unto itself. Your guy could be such a person, and believe that the law, as a form of compulsion, is a crime against freedom and humanity. But that also means that he is focused specifically on destroying the machinery of the state and that makes him, well, yeah a terrorist.

    I can see an anti-hero who goes after crooked cops. I can see an anti-hero who goes after crooked politicians who make bad laws that restrict freedom. At a push I can see a hero attacking specific single laws that he sees as unjust and dictatorial. But I can't see someone who takes direct action against the concept of law as being heroic. The only morally acceptable way for him to go after the concept of the law is non-violently; it's to write books and give speeches and so forth; to be a philosopher. Who exactly is your guy going to go after (in a heroic way) to save people from the law? Is he planning on creating a little state around himself where there is no law?

    The law is just too big of an enemy I think. As a corollary; imagine a character who wants to destroy chaos, who sees how violent and scary and unpredictable the world is and goes out to stop that. He maybe has a point (as your guy does) but he clearly doesn't have much chance of success, and even if he does he'll be a dictator; imposing order on people because he believes this is better for them.

    Part of what makes crime fighting heros interesting is because crime is both a personal and societal thing. They can stop the personal but they can't ever stop the societal one; and if they ever could just stop people being criminals then they would actually be villains. For your guy there doesn't seem to be a personal level that he can reasonably work on. Shooting judges won't stop the law from existing. Even in lawless places there are still laws, there's just no-one to enforce them. The worst thing is that he can't even really go after crooked cops etc because in the end he believes that all cops are corrupt because the law they serve is corrupt. So who is his enemy?

    I think you need to maybe take a step back and think about that. I can totally get that he wants to go after the crime bosses and doesn't blame the goons who just needed the cash. I can get him going after politicians and lobbyists (particularly) who are corrupting the law. But if he's struggling against the concept of law then, well, who is he ever going to fight against? And even if he does find someone to fight; is he just going to kill them? He can't just throw the guy in prison after all.
     
  16. GH0ST

    GH0ST Member

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    You are right. I knew that you can't make a character fight a concept like law. I just thought that he could have a philosophy like that. I guess, fighting corruption is the best idea for now.
     
  17. Dreams_on_Mars

    Dreams_on_Mars Member

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    You could have someone who believes that he has to free people from the Laws, which he then show how he sees people being controlled in a visual way and show him caring about that. And from there people may be able to piece together the backstory themselves. Or write a quick scene flash back of a powerful emotionally charged scene where the laws went way too far. Since you would tell it then in just a scene, the more emotionally charged the better.
     
  18. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    Does he hunt them down as in The Punisher (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0330793/)
    or is it more like the Three Musketeers?
    Reading the the part about breaking away because, "I've been wronged" makes me think of the Aryan brotherhood in this country.
     

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