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  1. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

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    Putting a sociopath into fantasy

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kerilum, Nov 25, 2016.

    Since almost the beginning, my plans were of putting a sociopath as my MC into my novel. However, I'm having sudden doubts, and thinking that

    a.) the general audience of fantastical novels could not come to appreciate the incorporation of psychopathy into their genre
    b.) my character could fit into a similar plot that consists of being 'trapped' in this world. That would mean no kingdoms and overall a lack of the similar adventure I plan to put into my fantasy novel.

    I know that if I don't state this, there are going to be people that say "Do whatever you think feels the best and what works for the plot," but I'm not aiming for that.

    I'd like an honest answer as to you thinking people could enjoy fantasy with a psychopath as the MC.

    EDIT: Ok, scratch this post. I'm so happy. I just combined two of my ideas into the same world. I'm so damn happy I feel like a genius. So uhh scratch this question :))
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
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  2. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

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    Do whatever you think feels the best and what works for the plot!

    Joking. Well sort of. I mean, I dont know his name, but wasn't their this psychopath in game of thrones? I don't something as wide as fantasy can be something that restricts something as common to fiction as a psoh wait sociopath. lol well tomato tamoto. lol.

    The real shitty part here is that I doubt think anyone can answer the question in the way you are hopping for. Because writing is an art and the question becomes more. "Can you make it work," than "does it work."

    Sure your right, their is lines that different audiences are more likely to accept, but I think this line of thinking can be a mistake in terms of art. I think the best method is to create what you love and what you love to create and discover who your audience is. If you love it, surely there are like minded individuals who would also love it. Though, you may be more interested in money and marketing, and if that is the case this is still kind of a moot point. This is a writing forum, not a writing market statistics on the current trends of today. 90% of the answers you get are gonna be opinion based from a random pool of talent. I am sure the money/marketing department research is out there. Though, I wouldn't know how to find it. Looking for it doesn't sound like much fun either.
     
  3. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    Interesting question. One of my first, obvious reactions is - who could be sympathetic to an unsympathetic person? "What do I care about this guy, anyway?" is the burden a main character has to carry. If a third of the way through a book the reader just doesn't care what happens to a character, the reason to finish the book is lost. So, someone who doesn't elicit sympathy would have difficulty carrying the weight of a book.

    That being said, the question then becomes, "Can you care about someone who doesn't care about anyone?" This is probably a dice roll having to do with individual preferences. For me, I might could dig up a charitable sort of sympathy, but in the end I can't see not sympathizing with the victims more than the character in question. Should that happen, I'd be hoping for the character's demise, which would probably be wishing for a hero to come along and take the person out.

    You'd then have a bit of a role reversal. The alleged protagonist being the negative force, and the antagonist being a positive force. Honestly though? I don't read fantasy at all. And, I don't write it. So, no I wouldn't read this one either.
     
  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't see any problem with it, but make sure you don't say he's a sociopath, since the terminology probably doesn't exist. AFAIK, there are plenty of sociopathic characters in fantasy already, haven't read Game of Thrones yet, but from what I hear, most of the characters lack empathy and human feeling, so go for it.
     
  5. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    First off, there is a pretty large difference between a psychopath and a sociopath, you'll need to do some pretty in-depth research on which characteristics you want before starting.

    That aside, go for it. I've always felt people born without empathy need books, things to relate to. Ignoring sociopaths / psychopaths doesn't make them not exist, and who knows, maybe the right book with an MC like them could help.
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'd agree that Game of Thrones is worth a look, and probably also The First Law series. Very violent, non-empathic characters in both series.
     
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  7. Kerilum

    Kerilum Active Member

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    The thing is though, my setting isn't anything like Game of Thrones where deceit and lying are the only things we see, it's more of an adventure and guild plot.
     
  8. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't think anyone's suggesting that you copy the format of the series, just that you look at it (or The First Law) for examples of stories in which readers are interested in the characters despite the characters being psychopaths.
     
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  9. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not saying that it needs to be like GoT, just that there's definitely a lot of precedent for sociopaths in fantasy, it's not an automatic no-no in the genre.
     
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  10. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    As a writer of villain protagonists myself:

    Audiences aren't looking to sympathize with the protagonist, they're looking to be interested in the protagonist. Frank Underwood and Light Yagami have basically nothing sympathetic about them except for tiny moments here and there, but their mind games against their opponents are always an intellectual thrill.

    An unsympathetic villain protagonist who surprises you will make it further than a sympathetic hero protagonist who doesn't. A sympathetic villain protagonist who does surprise you is even better, but if you absolutely have to pick one to start with, I would recommend you start with "surprising."

    Edit:
    Of all the surprises I've ever felt building a story, this feeling has been the most beautiful :D

    I've actually had to make it an explicit life-philosophy of one of my characters "When you have to choose X or Y, try to do both" just to justify having it come up so many times in the narrative :p
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2016
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  11. Samurai Jack

    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    Mark Lawrence, the Broken Empire series' main character is a sociopath. They are some of my favorite books. He will kill who he has to kill and betray who he has to betray and the only reason anyone is ever benefited by his decisions is because those decisions benefit him first. He's not likable, but Lawrence does a great job of writing an interesting story.
     
  12. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    The Wicked Witch of the North, Snow White's Wicked Witch, the mean old stepmother and stepsisters, the troll under the bridge...
    fee fi fo fum.... :write:
     
  13. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

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    Slow clap my friend. Slow clap.
     
  14. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    None of which are protagonists.
     
  15. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I think the most prolific sociopath in literature would be Alex from a Clockwork Orange. I don't think anyone was ever meant to sympathize with him. Hannibal Lector was also a horrifying individual that was never meant for sympathy.

    Remember that lies, deceit, even murder are not always signs of a sociopath. Hilter, Ceasar, Nero... none of these men were sociopaths, they killed as a means to an end. While they all had serious mental problems, there's no evidence of psychosis in any of them, they were calculating and patient. Contrary to popular belief, Nero actually hated violence. Caligula, Vlad Dracul, Ivan the Terrible... these men were true psychopaths who killed because they enjoyed it and were prone to fits of rage.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I see the Broken Empire was mentioned above. Yes, this has been done. The main character there is a sociopath. Likely also true of the main character from Monument, and from various characters in G.R.R. Martin's books and Joe Abercrombie's books (among a number of other authors). So I'd say fantasy audiences are fine with it if you do a good job.
     
  17. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I don't think psychopaths are suffering from psychosis - they're completely in touch with reality, they just don't have the same connection to other humans, the same empathy/sympathy/conscience.
     
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  18. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    A couple sources (not sure how good they are) say that while psychopathy and sociopathy are in the same general slot in the current DSM, psychopaths are probably the result of nature, while sociopathy comes from nurture. Psychopaths tend to be better able to imitate regular human behavior and can be cold-blooded, while sociopaths are scattershot, prone to impulsivity, and have difficulty holding down jobs and human relationships.

    Examples given are Dexter (psychopath) vs The Joker (sociopath). Alex DeLarge would have been a sociopath, under that set of definitions.

    http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2015/02/12/differences-between-a-psychopath-vs-sociopath/

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wicked-deeds/201401/how-tell-sociopath-psychopath
     
  19. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'm not sure to whom you're responding, but in case it was to me - I agree that psychopaths are different from sociopaths, at least according to some definitions, but neither is psychotic.
     
  20. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    Brain fart, sorry, confusing psychotic with psychopath.
     
  21. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I think it's a common mistake... they've got "psycho" in common, after all...
     
  22. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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  23. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I want to point out- there is a difference between a sociopath and a person with psychopathic disturbances. A sociopath often suffers from psychopathic tendencies. If not balanced well, sociopaths also suffer psychotic breaks.
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Do you have a source for the "sociopaths also suffer psychotic breaks" part? I know it's awkward to find a solid source since DSM doesn't include either psychopaths or sociopaths in its definitions, but I'm not familiar with the connection to psychotic breaks...
     
  25. ToBeInspired

    ToBeInspired Senior Member

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    I know it says this thread is over I just want to clarify that a Sociopath and a Psychopath are not the same thing. Lack of empathy doesn't mean a tendency towards violence.
     

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