1. ymccray91

    ymccray91 New Member

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    Protagonist to Antagonist

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ymccray91, Nov 4, 2016.

    Okay, so I have a side character who starts out as the comic relief in my story but after a twist halfway through the story, it turns out that he's done some despicable things in the past that turn him into one of the main villains of the story. I am telling my story with both past and present tense. I want to know if it would be something that infuriated the reader or not. I sort of want to add the element of surprise but I don't want to break any official writing rules. What should I do?? :p
     
  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Here's the thing about writing ...

    [​IMG]

    :p

    There are no official rules. It's just a matter of whether you pull it off or not. A twist like that should infuriate the reader, surely! You just want them to be mad at the character, not the writer behind him. The only real solution is to write it well, which is mostly a matter of experience (in my - well - experience).
     
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  3. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    That's just a face-heel turn. A very common character development in storytelling.
     
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  4. halisme

    halisme Contributor Contributor

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    So long as there are some clues and it doesn't come out of nowhere, it'll be fine.
     
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  5. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    As described in your thread title, I don't see how it would work. As described in your post - sure, sounds good. A Usual Suspects twist, but with the twist earlier in the story? Cool.
     
  6. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    First, quick distinction:

    Protagonist: main character of the story
    Antagonist: opposition to the protagonist

    Hero: strongly moral character (with the occasional flaw here and there)
    Villain: strongly immoral character (with the occasional line to never be crossed here and there)

    So is this secondary character a Villan Antagonist who spends the first half of the story pretending to be one of the Hero Protagonists? Or is he a Villain Protagonist who spends the first half of the story trying to be one of the Heroes, but then half-way through it stops working and he becomes the antagonist?

    Either way, you're in good company with the people who've done this before and made it work ;)
     
  7. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Can you give an example of the villain protagonist who turns into the antagonist? I'm having trouble imagining how that would work...
     
  8. Phil Mitchell

    Phil Mitchell Banned Contributor

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    It would work by reversing the writing structure to focus on the opponent of the villain protagonist, ie the hero, and switching the story to a more traditional hero/villain structure.

    I'm working on the opposite. Having a main hero protagonist become the antagonist temporarily without changing alignment at all. This making the hero seem a terrifying opponent to be deconstructed and defeated.
     
  9. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Did you ever read the Animorphs books as a kid?

    In the #22, they try to protect a guy named David - who just got a target planted on his back by the alien invaders for finding alien technology - by bringing him in as a new member of the group, teaching him how to shapeshift, and giving him a place to hide.

    He tries to get along with everybody for a while, but by the end of #24, his violence and selfishness have grown from 1) merely not wanting to do as he's told, 2) killing random animals and vandalizing property, 3) trying to sell out the others to save himself when a mission against the invaders goes sideways they all get cornered, and finally 4) trying to kill everybody so that he could start his gang of shapeshifting criminals without having to worry about the group trying to stop them.
     
  10. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I haven't read those - but I guess I can see how it would work with an ensemble cast and books in a series. So he was the protagonist (or one of the protagonists?) for one or more of the books, but then eventually became an antagonist in later books, with other characters stepping in or remaining protagonists. I can see that.

    Thanks!
     
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  11. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    OH, OK, I see the confusion :) Yeah, One Single Protagonist Of The Entire Book™ is not going to become an antagonist, even if s/he falls from being the hero to being the villain (cough cough Walter White), in the way that a member of an ensemble could.
     
  12. Dominique Parker

    Dominique Parker Member

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    I was actually just about to mention Breaking Bad as a decent example. I don't know if the OP has ever read Stephen King's "The Stand" but, I think Harold Lauder is a relatively decent example of what you're going for. He kind of sort of starts out as comic relief and (unconvincingly in my opinion) becomes one of the villains.
     
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  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Oh, yeah, I completely forgot about him, but he'd be perfect! (And actually better for this discussion than Breaking Bad because Walter had always been the lead protagonist and not one of the secondaries)
     
  14. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    One book that springs to mind is 'the long firm' by Jake Arnott - that's told from five different PoV one per section , and the PoV character in one section can be a player or an antag in one or more of the other sections.

    as an aside the other clever thing about that book is that the main character , the gangster Harry , isn't ever a pov character, its his story told from the perspective of those around him , clever stuff
     
  15. ymccray91

    ymccray91 New Member

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    Thanks, I knew that someone would know what I was trying to say!
    Well, this story doesn't really have a central character. Each of the central characters play a specific role to the plot. When I had a beta reader read a chapter, he told me that the character seemed like a 'good guy' (personality wise) and I see that after reading it myself many people would find this character to be someone worth rooting for to survive. What they don't know is that he's the person the other characters have to fear for, after a few revelations. I did put enough clues so that the twist doesn't come out of nowhere.

    I would have to say that he is an antagonist who is pretending to be a protagonist. He is probably the second lead villain in the story as well. I just want to make sure that it isn't completely irrational to do this halfway through the book.
     
  16. ymccray91

    ymccray91 New Member

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    Is that sort of like A Song of Ice and Fire?
     
  17. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I've not read ASOIAF but based on the TV series i'd say no, because it has multiple main characters - in the long firm there is only ever a single main character gangster Harry Starks , but he is seen through the eyes of (and his story told by) 5 different poV characters none of whom is actually an MC themselves
     

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