1. Tcrumpen

    Tcrumpen New Member

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    Wanting revenge for seeing family killed ... too cliché?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Tcrumpen, Dec 10, 2016.

    I'm currently trying to get some ideas for my novel that i'm going to write; as it's still at the idea stage the ideas are ever changing. It's going to be a fantasy novel based around magic and i'm thinking about making my main characters 'drive' or 'motivation' in the book that she wants revenge for seeing her family killed.

    Is this kind of thing to cliché and overdone, i also don't want my character to fall into the "weak/emotional female" trap. Not saying she can't have emotions but i want to avoid her coming across as the griveving damsal in distress

    Also i thinking that the villain is a power hungry lunatic caused by magicial expirementation in case that helps anyone make an informed decision
     
  2. Thom

    Thom Active Member

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    I wouldn't say so. Has it been used a lot? Yes. But it's a common enough plot device and as in anything, it's just in how it is used that makes it unique. Consider that some of the best stories began with a need to avenge murdered parents. Batman for one...

    As to the "weak/emotional female" trap, if all she does is blubber then you've fallen into it. But if you keep it balanced with action and emotional drive, it should only be an issue with someone who already has a problem with a female lead.

    As for the villain, some of the best villains are the ones the reader can in some ways sympathize with. A tragic villain is one who began benignly but lost their way, like Darth Vader. Although sometimes there's no beating a villain who is just malicious for the sake of malice. That would fall under a mental sickness though, and it sounds like yours is more of the former.
     
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  3. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with @Thom

    Revenge is a common masterplot. There are certain expectations set when you use it. Can it be cliché? Absolutely. Whether or not you write a cliché story depends almost wholly on your execution. The bonus in using a masterplot like revenge is that readers know what they're going to get, so a certain amount of work is done for you.

    My advice for using this idea is to take the time to flesh out the specifics of your story. Read a bunch of similar stories and constantly ask yourself what makes yours different. We should be doing that with all of our work, and, sure, there will be some overlap, but make an effort to challenge your imagination.

    I also agree with the above post on both of the other points. And this goes back to what I originally said: make sure you're creating round, dynamic characters for the lead roles and you won't have an issue. Consume consume consume other literature.
     
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  4. blklizard

    blklizard Member

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    An alternative might be her family kidnapped for magical experimentation. The villain wants revenge on what was done to him so he/she has a perfectly good reason to do so. This alternative can give a certain urgency as the MC tries to save them. How you make this urgency work and how uniquely you can form the plot if all on you.
     
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  5. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    My manuscript is about a young boy in a fantasy setting who witnesses his parents killed and wants revenge for it. It's a great motivating stimulus. But remember, it's just a plot. Cliche only comes about if you don't do anything new with that plot, or at least put your own spin on it.
     
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  6. Thom

    Thom Active Member

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    When in the plot the protagonist loses her family can also play a big part. A lot of times such tragedy is the precursor to the entire story. But if it happens such as was mentioned above, if she has hope to get them back, but they end up dying in the second or third act no matter what she's tried, I imagine that could really exacerbate her emotions. Especially pain and anger that could actually make her respond in ways she later comes to regret.

    Plot devices in stories are always similar, it's just how you use them that make then unique.
     
  7. Tcrumpen

    Tcrumpen New Member

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    That might not be a bad idea, i wa thinking of using the family death as her drive to learn magic. Now tempted to start her off in solitude as that's how mages work she then hears of a mad man (the villian) sneaks off to see her family and then watches them get killed which then just gives her the idea for revenge and to start delving into magic that although not forbidden isn't common practise (I a bit tired of seeing the whole - powerful magic is forbidden thing)
     
  8. LostThePlot

    LostThePlot Naysmith Contributor

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    Good people don't plot murders. A dead family might be motivation; it might make her become a soldier or try to use magic to prevent it happening to other people. But heroes, even anti-heroes, shouldn't be thinking in terms of just pure revenge, especially not if it takes a long time to get there. They grieve and they hurt and they don't forgive but they shouldn't have it in them to murder like this. Because good people realize that throwing their life away for revenge instead of moving on is the last thing your family would want. Heroes seek to bring the villain to justice, not to lynch them.

    That's why 'dead family, seeks revenge' feels cliche to me, because even when really well written it's not a good motiviation. It's an easy motivator, of course, and that's the problem.

    Instead, why not look to something similar but not the same. Why not have the villain steal her families farm and leave her old mum in the poor house to die of peasentry and she sets out not to kill the guy, but to reclaim what is rightfully hers? That gives her a reason why the scheme is worthwhile even if it takes years, because her family's prosperity requires it. It also means that she's unambiguously righteous in her quest; searching for justice not vengeance. It makes magic a tool and not just a weapon to her; the difference matters. If it's just a weapon then she'll learn something spectacular and destructive and run off to kill not caring if she blows herself up. If it's a tool then she'll bother to study magic properly. This has been done too of course but it's much more sympathetic and gives you scope to take it wherever you want.

    With the 'dead family' there's not a lot you can do with the ending. Either she kills him or she falters and realizes she's no better than him. With the dispossessed family she can take back the deeds, she can fight him in a trial by combat for it and kill him, or find out her dear old mum died and kill him in the spur of the moment, or the bad guy can try to strike a deal with her and she has to choose between the thing she wanted and the wider injustice of this guy living. You see how the difference helps here? If she's after something that is on the other side of this guy then there's a lot of room for how you end it. Getting it back could be a heist, a conjob, a duel, a court case, a card game or a bargain. If she only cares about killing the guy then that's the only way you can end.
     
  9. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I will argue this by saying, often the inciting action is the death of loved ones, revenge and a plot to kill are devised and set about on, during the hero's journey, he/she/it learns lessons and concludes that straight killing is bad (but I hope he hits me first, then I can kill him), and that revenge is really setting everyone free from the 'baddie's' control (which usually takes killing, or metaphorically killing, making inert).

    I fully agree that an anti-hero should not plot revenge. An anti-hero shuns problems, but they find him, and his motivation is to solve his problem, which in turn will solve everyone's problem.
     
  10. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    -Someone kills MC's family
    -MC gets blamed
    -MC had actually planned on killing his family, so there is plenty of evidence to blame the MC
    -MC tries to find his family's killers, and kill them for doing what he wanted to do
    -MC find out that Killer is actually him from the future
    -MC kills his future self, goes back in time, kills his family
    -MC is hunted by MC


    Honestly, the cliché version seems more appealing.
     
  11. Tcrumpen

    Tcrumpen New Member

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    See to me leaving the family to die of peasentry to me seems to 'weak' i'm wanting to make either my villian ruthless. I want him/her to basically be a physcopath and have no remorse kinda like a serial killer either by choice or by being become crazy due to magical expirements

    Unless i use the peasentry thing as a foundation for being ruthless and then make it even tougher on them
     

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