1. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    Villain Seeking Redemption

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by TyrannusRex, Jul 18, 2017.

    (Note: this character is not the protagonist of my tale in any way, but I wanted to flesh out an interesting story for him so that he may be used in a continuation of the story)
    An idea:
    Prior to the main story, a man, Desmond, falls under the influence of the main antagonist, an evil sorcerer-king. Desmond already desired power, and sees an opportunity here to become a very powerful man if he can prove his loyalty to this king. He ends up kidnapping and torturing his younger brother, forcing him into the king's service against his will. While serving this king and learning from him, he and his men do countless unspeakable things to the people of the land, before being confronted by the story's heroes.
    They battle; Desmond's brother is killed in the clash, and Desmond himself is incapacitated. The heroes proceed and kill the sorcerer-king. The dark magic begins to lift from the land; Desmond disappears to parts unknown.
    Many years later, the descendants of the heroes encounter an aged Desmond.
    Basically, in the years since all this occurred, Desmond has just been trying to live however he can, but after the 'king's curse' was lifted, Desmond realized all that he had done while influenced by the promise of power. He realized that he was being used as a pawn, and that he was responsible for numerous deaths, including that of his own brother.
    I'm just trying to figure out what kinds of things (mental or otherwise) might play out as this man retreats into the unknown to try and grasp his reality, to come to terms (maybe not completely) with what it is he'd done.
    (I hope I explained that well, I am not at all good at articulating concepts.)
     
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  2. BogLady

    BogLady Active Member

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    Not sure exactly what you are asking, but,

    I think a lot will depend on how Desmond truly feels about his past.
    This could go three different ways potentially, Is he saddened, apologetic and depressed over what he has done or is he only slightly taken aback by his own behavior and blaming it on others, or is he totally unconcerned about what had transpired and he sees it as just a part of life that couldn't be avoided?
     
  3. TyrannusRex

    TyrannusRex Active Member

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    I'm seeing that, in his later years, he's gotten the grief out of his system, but it's still a feeling of self-scorn, like "how the hell did I let that happen?" and "make sure other people know not to make the same mistakes".
    Perhaps repentance is what I had in mind.
     
  4. archer88i

    archer88i Banned Contributor

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    Allow me to recommend humility. If there's one thing I can't stand in fiction, it's characters who hypothetically know they done fucked up but still want to tell other people how to live their lives. :)
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I would ask: why did he desire power, and how/when/why did power lose its lustre?

    And another thing to think about: what events led up to his kidnapping and then perhaps torturing his brother? People don't usually do something this extreme out of the blue. And what may have led him to view this series of events differently on hindsight?

    Still another question: how did his brother die? How was Desmond responsible? Did he make any attempts to protect or save him? In the course of the story, was there any point when Desmond may have had second thoughts, wished things were different, come across pivotal moments when he may have chosen differently?

    For example, i have a sympathetic antagonist in my WIP. He wages war against the rebels of his land and will stop at nothing to attain full control. He is not beyond cruel or sneaky methods.

    But he is also a man of his word. He loves and mourns the death of those he loves. When he struck a deal with one of his prisoners, he kept his word and even helped his prisoner up the stairs.

    So in this way i make my antag quite relatable and human. My alpha reader has told me she thinks he is a very intetesting villain because of this.

    Essentially make your antag human and then his redemption would be desired as well as believable, i think.
     
  6. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Narratively speaking he can only find real redemption in death. That's the traditional atonement for those who go too far (see Darth Vader). He can be forgiven but only by making the ultimate sacrifice. Anything else is hollow, unless he's a gibbering madman driven insane by the things in his head. Essentially; if he can live with what he did then he isn't really seeking atonement.

    I think a better approach is if he's not really seeking atonement. If he's the same dangerous, nasty guy who long ago came to terms with the fact that he wasn't just a pawn, that he knew what he was doing and a part of him liked it. It probably haunts him, to some degree, but still he's found who he really is and while that freaks him out a bit he's exactly as dangerous now as ever he was, he's just in reduced circumstances. That kind of character might claim to be seeking redemption, might do all kinds of things to preserve his skin from the heroes, but he knows who he is.

    Alternatively, you could approach him as someone who is totally phlegmatic about what happened. They were bad times and he (to his mind) didn't have a choice and he doesn't see that as wrong. If confronted he might even challenge the new generation of heroes as to what they would have done; would they really have watched their families tortured rather than sign up with the bad guys?

    Just some ideas; but I don't think that someone who is still alive so many years later is someone who is seriously all that upset about what they did. He might have managed to make himself forget, he might have rationalized his actions into nothing or he might just be a seriously bad mother fucker who even as an old man would stick a knife up the heroes urethra; but no matter what I think that if he had managed to keep himself mentally whole for so long he isn't troubled by what he did.

    For this kind of character look to the Nuremberg trials and particularly the trial of Adolf Eichmann twenty years later. Eichmann (so called 'architect of the holocaust') lived until 1962 when the Israeli's finally found him and strung him up. And at his trial he maintained he didn't do a damn thing wrong. It was about him the a reporter at the trial coined the phrase 'the banality of evil'. Because in his head he was just a bureaucrat. He was given a task and he did that with a terrifying efficiency. Many such men do exactly that. They focus on their job and forget the people it hurts. And, upsettingly enough, they sleep ok at night. Same thing with Saddam Hussein. How can you stand in front of the families of people you had massacred and say that you did the right thing? Well, apparently quite easily. Because if you were the kind of person whom massacres would bother then they would have started bothering you a long time ago.
     
  7. Trish

    Trish Damned if I do and damned if I don't Contributor

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    Is he essentially self-exiled? There are many ways I could see that working, except that I don't see any real loyalty to a clan of any kind from what you've said. It sounds like his only loyalty was to power and the possession of it. Exile works as a 'proof of regret' but only when the connection to the family/tribe/clan was strong.
     
  8. RWK

    RWK Member

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    This is the entire situation in a nutshell.

    What made him want power, and what happened that made power not worth the cost? From your description he never reached the second situation: his source to power was eliminated, but not his desire for it.

    Like an addiction, the end of a desire has to come from a breaking point unique to the individual. It is rare.
     
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  9. LCM

    LCM New Member

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    Hi there,

    From what you've described, this man, Desmond, seems to start out as quite an ambitious even ruthless individual who then after punishment or the 'king's curse' retreats into his own dark prison and then eventually begins to see the light as such. You asked for suggestions re Desmond's ghosts which might haunt him in his retreat. I think you could play on guilt because if he feels guilt it suggests he knows deep down that he has done something wrong, he just probably does not recognise it yet. Perhaps at first he tries to suppress this guilt by trying to convince himself that all the blood on his hands had a worthy cause behind it. You may even want to have a parallel description with a physical scene symbolising his mental state, think of Lady Macbeth 'Out out damned spot!'or perhaps a blood stain which always appears in a certain place and no matter how hard he tries to rub it clean, it still appears to haunt him? You could have so much fun with imagery here. After a while though, Desmond could finally come to terms with all the bad things he's done and begin his journey to redemption, think Darth Vader from Starwars. So, he may literally see a light through a crack which could symbolise the same sort of gesture in his psyche. does that make sense? There is so much potential here for a character with many depths which could give you an opportunity to work on inner monologue aswell. Desmond strikes me as being a very Shakespearean character.

    I hope that helps you.

    All the best,
    LCM
     
  10. James Terzian

    James Terzian Member

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    One way is to make you villain have no choice but to join the protagonist. Whether he was betrayed or it was a way of survival. In my book the Lord of Shadows Rises. The Lord of Shadows was a fallen student of a Grand Master of Order of White Rose. He was not picked for the position so he betrayed him and become the dreaded Lord of Shadows. In book two The Lord of Shadows Reedemption a groups trying to revive him, they betray him by trying to have another evil posses The Lord of Shadows. He escapes and join the current Grand Master who killed him in order to stop this new threat.
    Have you villain meet his match or a greater threat is reveled forcing him to join even temporally with his enemies. That is what I did. That is the joy of writing anything goes
     
  11. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    There's some distance you can go with this, but you risk making someone sound heroic just because their interests intersect with the good guys for a while. Ok, sure, maybe you were betrayed and ousted by the bad guys and are pretty pissed off by that, enough so to show up to their biggest enemy and help them topple the bad guys. But think about that in the abstract; think about the actual motivations involved. This is a person who is absolutely fine with everything the bad guys do, just he's personally slighted that he didn't get to be on the 'right' side in this conflict. And so he immediately flips allegiance and does everything in his power to ensure that none of his old mates get to win either.

    If you cast that character from the other direction then he'd be the most loathed traitor you can imagine. Think about if Neville Chamberlain, on losing support of the British public had headed off to Nazi Germany and helped them plan the invasion of the UK. That is not heroic. That's petty and jealous and that kind of behavior we look upon with scorn. Yes, it looks a bit better when we're talking about situations where there is some real black and white to the sides involved but even so you do need to be careful how you cast such a traitor.

    If you look at Star Trek Deep Space Nine, Garek is exactly this character. He was a seriously bad motherfucker; a high ranking member of the Obsidian Order (think Space Gestapo). He tortured people, he murdered people, he snuck around and betrayed people and enjoyed the work. He loved what he did and more so than that he thought it was right to be doing that. And he is still that guy. When he is ousted and betrayed he shows up on the Federation's door step and joins the regular cast. He's now on the right side of things, theoretically. He's definitely fighting for a better side than he was. But he is a dangerous man. He's an interesting character and the actor plays him with a lot of charm and charisma but he's not someone to make an enemy of. Even under his new masters he still murders people, in cold blood. And with marginally better motives, but still. You shouldn't confuse working for the good guys with being a hero. He's not even an anti-hero. He's an outright villain, albeit a charming one, who gets a pass because the good guys need every friend they can get.

    There's a certain romance to this kind of figure, I agree. People like Trotsky have a romance and a mystique to them; a greater man cast out by a lesser one. It's so tempting to say 'what if?' and make him the hero of a story. But he's not. He was just as bad as Stalin and perhaps worse. Che Guevara has the same thing. He's lionised today. But he was a ruthless and violent man. He personally executed people. These were not nice people. And there's a reason why Trotsky was not welcomed into any other nation, despite being an enemy of the great enemy in the USSR. Because while Trotsky could have been an invaluable foil against Stalin he was a dangerous man who could just as easily create a revolution in whatever country sponsored him. And just as easily could a betrayed agent of the big bad turn your crusade against evil into something evil itself.

    And that's all very interesting if you want to play with that stuff. You could write some superb books about exactly this. But if that's not what you are going for; or at least you aren't using this black hearted ally of convenience to make the good guys ask questions of themselves and their methods; then you shouldn't include him. You can't just have someone put on a new uniform and declare they are saved. I think if you do that then the person hasn't really atoned.

    Maybe if he takes a decision that the bad guys are evil and flees to fight them, ok, maybe he can join the heros. But if he doesn't, if he only leaves because he has no choice and only helps out of a personal sense of grievance (ie, he doesn't care about all this massacring, he's just pissed off he doesn't have his sweet house and really great brandy anymore) then he's still a bad guy.
     
  12. James Terzian

    James Terzian Member

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    First thank for your input. I think and this is my opinion. It should fit in the story. My three books is the story of The Lord of Shadows, he find something to fight for. In the third book which is in the editing right. All of the master of the White Rose have been killed in battle. He decided to honor his enemies legacy by training and protecting the Grand Master son. He is fighting his guilt for his previous transgressions. But has found his redemption in his enemies own son. It is a gamble if not done correctly. If it fit in grand scheme of thing within your book. It is fiction some rule don't apply. But it should make sense and be believable.

    Thanks for this conversation dude. Please add more if have anything else to share.
     
  13. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    I believe, wait a minute, I know if you bring up your past wrong doing it is fresh, and doesn't go away.
    That would drive him to dedicate himself to try and right the wrong.
    I think it would be great if he became a Xiaolin monk and honed his battle skills and dedicate himself to the protag.
     

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