1. Miranda Ricouta

    Miranda Ricouta New Member

    Nov 15, 2016
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    United States

    When do they deserve forgiveness?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Miranda Ricouta, Mar 7, 2017.

    I've mentioned in other posts that I write fanfiction in my downtime as practice for original fiction, and lately an issue in one of my stories has been nagging at me.

    I'm writing a Vocaloid story called Device of Life. The basic plot summary is that there's a virtual city on the internet inhabited by creatures called "loids". This city is almost completely cut off from the rest of the web with very few exceptions, due to a powerful firewall surrounding it that blocks outside programs. The city experiences very little internal struggle despite its somewhat mean class system because a majority of loids are programmed to be non-confrontational. The problem arises when an outside virus wriggles its way in and starts wreaking havoc, tearing the city and its people apart and causing the first casualties it's ever seen.

    The cast is primarily divided by which of the main characters each side character is most closely associated with, the three leads being Miku, Teto, and Neru. They're the characters who deal with the conflict most directly.

    I'm assuming that nobody reading this is also going to read the story, so I'm going to go ahead and spill just about everything that I have planned.

    The characters in this story do some pretty gross things, and I'm going to talk about each of these gross things individually. My problem is that I want the story to have an at least mostly happy ending for everyone who survived the experience, including the characters who do these gross things. This means that I have to justify the gross things that they do and have each realize the error of their ways by the end. This is where I'm running into trouble, and I'd like some advice on how to handle these.


    This one deals very directly with the class system, of course, so I'll explain it briefly: Vocaloids are the highest class, born into fame and fortune, never needing to work beyond simple house chores, and handed everything they'll ever need on a silver platter. UTAUloids are the middle class, offered talent and opportunity, and in most cases, a specific role that they can fill if they don't want to chase an alternative dream. Boukaloids are the lowest class, given nothing but a boring job and a roof over their head, expected to be able to work hard for success if they really want it (basically like normal people, except they're born adults and often without family to lean on). There are other classes too, but they aren't as relevant.

    Early in the story we're introduced to three of Teto's friends, housemate UTAUloids named Ruko, Ritsu, and Tei. Ritsu and Tei are both extremely bitter people with seething hatred towards the Vocaloids, Miku in particular because she's the most famous. They don't like each other much either, often walking the fine line between hate and tolerance. Ruko, comparatively, is much kinder, and cares deeply for the well being of both Ritsu and Tei despite their foul attitudes.

    The Virus grows more intelligent as the story goes on, and starts to rely on manipulating loids into doing its bidding. You can probably see where this is going... It decides that Ritsu and Tei are prime candidates for puppets, and convinces them to go along with it under the promise that they can lift the class system and put the Vocaloids in their place. They accept, although Ritsu a bit hesitantly, and Ruko goes with them out of self-inflicted obligation to the two.

    Their betrayal nearly complete destroys Teto, who is heavily depicted as the most happy and outgoing character in the story.

    Reforming Ruko and Ritsu is something I didn't have much trouble deciding how to handle. It's eventually revealed that Ruko was playing double agent the whole time, feeding anonymous clues to Miku, Teto, and Neru and eventually leading them straight to Ritsu and Tei's arrest. As for Ritsu, he has the excuse of poor programming, being built with the body and intelligence of an adult but the mentality and naivete of a toddler. He's unsure of the side he chose the entire time that he's on it. The killing blow comes when the Virus decides that Ritsu's usefulness has run thin and possesses his love interest, using her body to very nearly slaughter him. Ritsu ultimately crawls back to the good guys with zero hesitation once they're found out, and spends most of the story afterwards doing community service at Teto's request not to have him sent to prison.

    Tei is the problem. Here's the thing about her: her official profile says that she's a psychopath. I don't really know how to work with this. The idea I have right now is to have her sent to a mental institution upon her and Ritsu's arrest, break out of it for a semi-final confrontation, realize how terrible whats she's doing is upon coming this close to murdering Miku with her bare hands, being sent back to the institution again, and returning to side with the good guys in the final battle. ...Yeah, I have no idea how I'm going to make forgiving her anywhere near acceptable.

    2. Dude, you just murdered somebody.

    This one is the elephant in the room, but I want to talk about it now because the next one directly relates to it.

    Gumi is introduced early in the story as comic relief. She's a mischievous prankster with an extremely homosexual crush on self-proclaimed heterosexual Miku. Hardly a single word that comes out of her mouth is at all serious, and she takes pride in finding new ways to embarrass Miku through overblown flirting. Despite her joking demeanor, later chapters where conflict springs up reveal Gumi to be fiercely loyal to both Miku and the rest of the Vocaloids, as well as a talented fighter, mechanic, and leader. She proves to be dangerously selfless as well, both in the sense that she'd rather see Miku happy with someone else than unhappy with her, and that she'd rather die to protect the people she cares about than stand back and watch them suffer.

    I mentioned that the Virus has the ability to possess people. Basically, it can infect loids through the bloodstream. If a loid has an open wound, they're in trouble. Symptoms of infection include unnaturally cold skin and hearing voices, and after a while, it's possible for the Virus to block out the loid's brain and control the host body as its own. Gumi at one point finds herself facing off with three possessed Vocaloids at once and nearly has her arm blown off. This is before they discover that the Virus is spread through blood.

    Rather than just taking control of her, the Virus gives Gumi a choice: either stand back and let it use her hands to destroy everything she cares about, or kill Dell (for reference: brother of Neru's best friend Haku, and computer genius who's been helping track and confront the Virus's doings).

    Gumi, being Gumi, picks the latter option, and is very discreet about doing so. It isn't revealed until much later that it was her who did it, and she openly reveals it herself because she can't stand to watch Miku and the others run in circles trying to figure out who it was. She even backs up her claim by telling everyone how exactly he died despite it not being public knowledge. Neru justifiably flips, as Dell's death sent Haku spiraling into depression, and Miku breaks down as well, as despite everything, she views Gumi as a very close friend. Gumi is arrested and sent to prison, head hanging in shame, having earned the hatred of just about everyone in the city except for Miku, Teto (who she hardly knows), and surprisingly, Haku, who views the reveal as nothing more than another reason for everyone to be miserable.

    More on what happens next later.

    Gumi may have had a reason for what she did, and it makes her sympathetic, but that doesn't change the fact that she murdered somebody. I want her to eventually be accepted back with the Vocaloids, to prove her loyalty and have her happy ending with her family. I don't know how I'm going to do this. The only idea I have right now is to have it that she wasn't going to do it, but the virus took control at the last second, but I don't really know how well that would go over.

    3. In which the "responsible leader" runs away from her problems.

    Miku throws around the word "responsibility" a lot, but often is shown not to really understand what the word means. She claims to be a "responsible leader" for the Vocaloids, but complains about doing housework, can't keep her own room clean, throws tantrums when people disagree with her, and backs down in stressful or confusing situations in favor of letting someone more mature handle it. That's how she starts, anyway; an extremely flawed but still entertaining main protagonist. The idea is for her to mature beyond her flawed understanding of "responsibility" and grow to be an actual responsible leader by the end. Of course, that's character development.

    Possibly one of her worst moments, however, comes after Gumi's arrest. Everybody keeps telling Miku that what Gumi did was wrong (which it was), but Miku just can't forget the reason that she did it: to protect everybody. In the dead of night, Miku leaves a note in her room, sneaks out, breaks Gumi out of prison, and despite Gumi protesting that it will destroy Miku's reputation, Miku convinces her that the best course of action is for both of them to run away. Leave the city, possibly forever. Gumi can't say no to Miku, and thus the two are gone.

    Miku does a lot of dumb things in this story, but this one is quite possibly the dumbest. She and Gumi end up hiding out in a secret safe space not too far out into the internet, and they stay there for quite some time. Gumi acts like nothing is wrong, treating Miku with the upmost kindness and care while the latter sulks about the situation. Gumi does everything in her power to try and keep Miku on her feet, doing things like showing flowers to her and sitting her down so they can doodle together. Eventually, after dwelling far too long on how everybody back in the city must feel, and realizing that running away won't solve her problems, Miku tells Gumi that she wants to go home. So they do.

    I have no idea what happens between here and the end of the story. I don't know how the city will react to their return, or how quickly Miku's character will grow from here on out. The only thing I know is that Gumi is put on trial for her crime during this part of the story, and I really don't know how that will play out either, because I haven't decided how Gumi will be forgiven.

    Well, I think that just about sums up all of the trouble I'm having with this. Originally I was going to have this be a discussion thing about writing character forgiveness in general, but I suppose it really just amounted to me whining "help me with my fanfiction plz". I'd still like to see discussion about good and bad examples of character forgiveness, though. Not only would it be interesting, I think it would really help. Thanks! :)
  2. Forinsyther

    Forinsyther Member

    Nov 9, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Hey, I started out writing fanfiction too, it gave me the confidence to write my first novel :) OK, so I've read through your points, and I will try to help as best I can.
    First of all I will say, maybe you should consider not giving them all forgiveness. Sometimes happy endings that are too happy are a little anti climactic. I once asked a bunch of people I knew, 'so I have two endings for my story, would you rather read it with a happy or a tragic ending?' They picked tragic because it's more realistic. But if you don't want to take that advice, that's fine, just thought I would say :)

    Tei was a little difficult to work around, I can see why you're having trouble. Unfortunately, I'm going to say that your suggestion was a little too cliche and easy (fighting with the good guys at the end). She's a psychopath, there is so much you could do with that. It would probably better to not make the reader feel forgiveness for them all anyway, it might end up looking forced or rushed. So instead, maybe she's a likable psychopath character, the kind who has 'their moments' whether they by funny, cute, or innocently curious. There are plenty of shows/books you could look at and take some reference from. You could also have that maybe she's evil because she's trying to figure out the world, she has a warped view, but maybe the view isn't pure evil it's just twisted. This give the reader the opportunity to decide if they want to like her, which is more realistic. In life when we meet a complicated person, we all have to decide if we should like them or not, and it's awesome letting someone do that in a book, it makes for so much thought.

    Dude, you just murdered somebody.
    When I first started to read about Gumi I was a little like hmmm is this going to be your average comic relief? :/ But I kept reading and I love what you're planning for her! It sounds like you've given her some real depth. You've already given her all the points that would make the reader forgive her. They'll love her early on because of her adorable and lovable characteristics, and they'll continue to because she owns up to what she did, and is even punished for it. Not to mention they're in a battle zone, so the readers are going to be expecting some sacrifice. If anything they'll feel really bad for having to watch the character they love go through something terrible. So yeah, you've done great there, the readers will most likely forgive and forget, because it's easy to do that with characters :) If you want her back for the final fight, you could have the remaining vocaloids preparing for the battle, but they realise they need more help, and Gumi is their only option right now (you've already mentioned her being awesome in battle). So maybe they're forced to get her back, and while some learn to forgive her, others do not.

    In which the "responsible leader" runs away from her problems.
    Once again, this is something where you can't have every single reader forgive and forget. But I wouldn't change this idea, I actually really like it. I think the best thing to do is, during all of this, give Miku some real inner conflict, she's trying to figure out what's right and wrong. She thinks saving Gumi is right because they're best friends, logically it's not right, and it's pretty dumb. But a lot of readers will forgive because they can relate; they'll probably think if that was my best friend I might do the same too. Not to mention, Miku realises her mistakes later on, she steps back and says I was wrong about this. That's a likable quality too. I honestly don't think this one is a problem :)

    I think the best thing to do for your fanfic is give the characters likable and dislikable qualities. Those are the characters people tend to love the most because they're the closest to resembling actual people. If you write this, wanting it to be happy for absolutely everyone, even the reader, you're going to get very stuck. Because that kind of thing doesn't really happen in stories about fighting and sacrifices.

    I hope I helped. Good luck with the fanfic, I hope all goes well, and I hope you get a lot of awesome reviews because this stories sounds great. :)

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