1. Delphine the Delphox

    Delphine the Delphox New Member

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    Posthumous Antagonist: Interesting, or Gimmicky?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Delphine the Delphox, Sep 12, 2020.

    A Gravity Falls fanfic I've had on the back-burner involves a man named Fell Williams responsible for most of the conflict. Fell is a greedy hunter of the paranormal who makes sure he stays employed by taking advantage of the monsters he hunts and the general public's lack of knowledge on the subject. Just some of his crimes include:

    * Feeding people human flesh so they turn into wendigos for him to hunt.
    * Killing the head of a vampire clan but letting the others go, relying on the resulting power vacuum to increase his business.
    * Capturing ghosts and, instead of excorcizing them, enslaving them and forcing them to haunt other houses so the residents will hire him.
    * Framing his own father, another paranormal hunter, as a fraud to increase his own reputation and garner sympathy.
    * Abducting Dipper and trying to murder his family, children included.

    Thing is, Fell actually dies rather early in the story, just a few chapters in. The rest of the story is about Dipper, Mabel, and their respective families undoing all the damage he's done. As such, Fell Williams remains the primary antagonist even long after his own death.

    Would the idea of a man being so evil that he continues to influence the story from beyond the grave sound like an interesting idea? Or does it just come off as adding a gimmick for the sake of a gimmick?
     
  2. Fervidor

    Fervidor Senior Member

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    Still need to watch that show eventually. It's one of those thing I just never seem to get around to.

    I wouldn't call it gimmicky - a gimmick to me is something fairly superficial you use just to get people's attention. This sounds like something that more or less defines the plot.

    I've done something somewhat similar myself, actually, only in my case two of the most influential characters - who in their own ways sorta instigated the entire plot - were both already dead when the story started.

    Of course, I planned to bring one of them back from the dead at the last moment to serve as the final boss, so to speak, and the other one makes an appearance as a sort of memory ghost to explain why he did what he did, and also screw with the villain one last time from beyond the grave.

    I have a certain fondness for that type of convoluted yet sorta predictable twist, you see.

    Anyway, to answer your question, I'd say what you're planning sounds fine. The important thing is that you have a valid story to tell: I don't think it should all be just the heroes mopping up the villain's mess. That would be like you had the climax of the story early on and there rest is just stalling for time. It all needs to be going somewhere and have a dramatic, meaningful resolution.
     
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  3. QualityPen

    QualityPen Member

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    An antagonist is someone who tries to keep the protagonist from accomplishing their goal. I don't think that this character really fits that definition from what you've told us here. The effect he has on your story doesn't resemble an antagonist but a disastrous event (or series of events) which the characters are responding to. In that sense, he has more in common with the iceberg which hit the Titanic than with The Joker, Azula, Joffrey Baratheon, or any other villain you can name.

    But here's the thing. You don't actually need a primary antagonist. There are so many stories out there where characters respond to a sinking ship, a flood, a volcanic eruption, or any other disaster. They work without antagonists, because the disaster's effects act as an obstacle for the MC to overcome, just like an antagonist acts like an obstacle for the MC to overcome.

    Even Sauron in The Lord of the Rings is ostensibly the antagonist, but we never see him and his only real contribution to the story is creating the disasters which lead into it.

    That's a long way of saying, your story should work just fine. The key is to focus on your characters' developments.
     
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  4. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    It's actually pretty logical, a persons impact rarely stops when their heart does. Especially when they are as actively malicious as this guy seems to have been.

    I would just be worried about the story bogging down after his death and the chapters just churning on 'Oh, here is thing number 457 that Ol' Fell did that we have to fix.'
     
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  5. Delphine the Delphox

    Delphine the Delphox New Member

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    Thanks for all the feedback! So in general the idea itself isn't a bad one, but I still need to make sure I can keep the audience's interest. I think I can manage that just fine.

    Thanks, everyone!
     
  6. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar Senior Member

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    Maybe alternate your chapters: First part deals with past incident with Jerkass, and then the current events resulting from that incident
     
  7. Whitecrow

    Whitecrow Member

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    In my opinion, you can make it a little more interesting.
    In the matter of death. Can be done so that everything that happened was part of his plan. Arriving at the place and learning that he is dead, you can find a message, explaining that everything was planned. Also advice to check out some valuable place for heroes. So that those arriving at the place would see another atrocity and another message from him. "That's all for now. But I'll be back. Wait for the letters."

    In my opinion, it would be more interesting. There is a bit of plagiarism from the saw, though.
     
  8. Delphine the Delphox

    Delphine the Delphox New Member

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    Mm. Doesn't really work for me. Fell only cares about his own wealth, satisfaction, and comfort, so he wouldn't really bother with setting things up after his death. And I don't intend for him to come back to life. Thanks for the feedback, though!
     
  9. Samlet

    Samlet Member

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    I can sort of see both sides of this. What if the baddie's legacy is so strong that it controls the behaviour and reactions of the protagonist by putting certain structures in place, anticipating his every move and countering it well in advance? The protagonist would have to be a fairly predictable character, thwarted at every turn by the baddie's foresight, but maybe the endgame is that the goodie realises what's going on and does something completely unpredictable that allows him to win out against his erstwhile nemesis.

    Alternatively, a chap I know name of C. Dickens came up with an interesting concept around Messrs Scrooge and Marley:D.
     
  10. Le Panda Du Mal

    Le Panda Du Mal New Member

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    For a villain to have such catastrophic influence after death, to my mind, requires more than just selfishness. A driving ideology or worldview seems to me more likely to wreak that kind of havoc. Perhaps he actually thought what he was doing had a greater purpose, and perhaps he even has admirers or disciples.
     

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