1. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    266
    Likes Received:
    319

    Writing Immoral Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Rockatansky, Jan 8, 2020.

    So this topic was inspired by another topic of the similar name, Immortals, and some of the posters, including

    So, here it is, a thread dedicated to the penning of Immoral characters.

    This is something, I don't have too much interest in, as all my characters end up having morals, including the bad guys.

    But that doesn't mean the topic itself isn't an interesting one.

    A chaotic evil character, who lives only for their own pleasures and whims. Living only for themselves, with no regards to anyone else.

    The type of character who sees friend and enemy as the same, temporary and disposable, cutting ties and getting rid of them when it suits them.

    Theft, murder, disloyalty are all justifiable to them as it serves their wants. They are so immoral, even the devil blushes.

    Basically, the Joker!

    So lay it out, my fellow Pensters, tell us about your immoral characters and how you write them
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,066
    Likes Received:
    3,207
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    Interesting idea, and good timing. The semi-autobiographical story I'm plotting (loosely) right now involves an immoral character. It isn't me though, it's my friend, and I'm trying to be as accurate as I can while also not being boring and trying to keep things dramatic. I've known this guy since 4th grade, and we're both nearing 60 now. I've watched him turn by stages into a full-blown malignant narcissist, which you described pretty well above. It makes for a shitty friendship, but hopefully for compelling reading. I also find, in an effort to be as true to life as possible, I need to reveal some of my own character flaws and some of his good points, otherwise it becomes 2 dimensional. So far at least it seems to be flowing pretty well, time will tell I suppose.
     
    Some Guy and Rockatansky like this.
  3. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,808
    Likes Received:
    18,653
    Location:
    Scotland
    I have several immoral characters in my novel, and I found them very interesting to write. Oddly enough, I didn't really plot them—and they are different from one another as well. They just burst into life as I wrote a few scenes.

    I guess if you're a moral person yourself, it's just a matter of writing characters who do exactly the opposite of what you would be inclined to do in a given situation. You would not do certain things because your conscience would kill you if you did. Or you just ...you know ...wouldn't. But these characters do. It's fun to explore that division.

    I find it more fun to work that way, than to come up with a plot that has BAD GUYS (or women.) Instead, I put the characters in a situation where morals would dictate a certain kind of behaviour. And they go the other way. For various reasons. But they just don't give a shit, really. Some actually enjoy it. Others do it because they want to get what the immoral act will give them. One or two do have pangs of conscience, but it doesn't stop them.
     
    Dogberry's Watch and Rockatansky like this.
  4. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    266
    Likes Received:
    319
    I decided to import these over from the immortal thread, since this is where were they belong.

     
  5. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2019
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    83
    Tying the immor(t)al threads together:

    I have a character who struggles with morality more than any other - he is known and worshipped as "The Immortal".
    This is in fact a man who is reborn once he dies, half inheriting the genetics of his current parents and half retaining his perpetual characteristics of dominance, powerlust and leadership. He is always identifyable by the unique mark on his arm.
    Every birth, he is collected by a the cult that worships him and rules the citystate. They guide and train him to become the tyrannical leader of this state . . . century after century.

    Yet this current birth, his parents manage hide him, before the cult kills them.
    Soon, he discovers his legacy and reads the journals of his past selves. No longer prisoner under the indoctrination of the cult, he reflects for the first time upon his purpose in the world.
    He knows now that it is wrong to opress innocent people. It is wrong to impose your will over others. But how can he step away from his legacy? How can he ignore the part in him that yearns for reverence and power, his own dominant nature?
    The cult would rule just as viciously without him; no virtue on his part could right the injustices of this world or the sins of the past. He sees the role of ruler as his destiny, something he was meant to do and cannot escape. Who is he to judge what is moral or not when seemingly the universe itself has decided his fate?
     
  6. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2013
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    1,817
    Location:
    Texas
    I'm attempting a completely amoral character... And I've decided he's such a bastard he is to be constantly cursed and therefore more like a dog on a leash. He gets free a few times and generally a lot of people die. You ever read The Old Kingdom trilogy by Garth Nix? He's got an ancient God of chaos, just uncontrollable energy that seeks to destroy everything. Well the main character's family managed to trick it into servitude. Wears a little collar with a magic bell that pretty much turns it into Salem from Sabrina the Teenage Witch (the older sitcom).
     
  7. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    15,181
    Likes Received:
    30,002
    Location:
    Seat 29e, Air Gradia 452
    Sounds a little like Gaiman and Pratchett's Good Omens (the book, I haven't seen the TV series yet). Basically like The Omen, except the baby Antichrist accidentally gets switched at the hospital and raised by a decent, upstanding family while the cult is frantically trying to get their (presumed) Lord to manifest powers that he doesn't actually have.
     
  8. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2019
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    83
    sounds funny, will check it out
     
    Seven Crowns likes this.
  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,808
    Likes Received:
    18,653
    Location:
    Scotland
    Ha ha! I'm not a fan of Gaiman's writing style (although I really like 'him') so I wasn't aware this was the plot of Good Omens. I might actually read it now that I know. That's a really good idea, and it's amusing just to think about it. I'm smiling here, and I haven't even read the damn thing. :)
     
  10. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    15,181
    Likes Received:
    30,002
    Location:
    Seat 29e, Air Gradia 452
    It's a collaboration between him and Sir Terry, and it's been twenty-five years since I read it, so I don't really remember the authorial voice or honestly much else about the plot, but I do remember enjoying it.
     
    jannert likes this.
  11. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    16,808
    Likes Received:
    18,653
    Location:
    Scotland
    Yeah, that plot does have a Pratchett vibe, doesn't it? I love Terry Pratchett, but I've shied away from reading his collaborations ...just because I was afraid I'd be so disappointed. But maybe not. :)
     
  12. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,887
    Likes Received:
    2,646
    Location:
    Australia
    Oh where to begin.... my whole manuscript is a tangled mess of immoral people, actions, and thoughts.
     
    Xoic and Some Guy like this.
  13. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,066
    Likes Received:
    3,207
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    ^ Sounds like a winnah!
     
    Rockatansky likes this.
  14. Nesian

    Nesian Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2017
    Messages:
    101
    Likes Received:
    122
    I haven't written my one yet but I imagine a lot of thousand yard stares from myself in the future as I pause to fume over their actions whilst I write them.
     
  15. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2018
    Messages:
    689
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    Norwich, UK
    My main character isn't exactly moral but what she is (I'm hoping) is a human being. Could others agree with her actions, probably not. But could they understand why she feels the way she does - I really hope so.

    I'm doing nothing but writing a genuine human being, faults and all. Someone who is desperate to survive in a society that feels her only worth is serving another person, even if it means her death.
    If some one said to you: "You must give your life to save X because that is what you were created to do, you have no say and no one is going to stop this." How would you react? Would you accept it? And what about if the person you had to die for was someone you also cared about? Sometimes in life there is no other way to do something than the wrong way.
     
    Thundair and Xoic like this.
  16. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2017
    Messages:
    1,104
    Likes Received:
    919
    Location:
    San Diego
    Immoral is a moving target. I’m sure there are sodomy laws still on the books. But today most of it is a common practice among lovers.

    The one flaw that I found in my immoral characters is they believe they have a right to something that was never theirs. My antagonist in my latest novel has turned to bio-science to eliminate people of a different race because his group thought they had the right. He has no redeeming qualities in this novel, so I may have to write book two.
     
    Some Guy and Rockatansky like this.
  17. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,066
    Likes Received:
    3,207
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    That's illegal, not immoral. But your'e right, morality is subjective. It changes from region to region, family to family, and person to person to an extent. Even in one person at different times in their life.
     
    Some Guy and Rockatansky like this.
  18. Rockatansky

    Rockatansky Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2019
    Messages:
    266
    Likes Received:
    319
    Agreed, I was going to make a post about the subjectivity of morality. Considering, even this group here on WF may vary.

    And what one might find acceptable another one may not.

    I'll try to keep this out of the realm of debate, since this post is not a debate but more of an observation to keep in mind when writing.

    For instance, as a Christian I'm supposed to find sex out of wedlock immoral, though my personal feelings are a little looser on the subject than a more Orthodox Christian.


    Which is why, I try to stay more in the realm of things we can agree to as a society, religious or atheist, as being immoral , such as murder, rape, stealing, lying Etc

    Though some may even have no moral objections to those either, even if we do. Thus, we may consider them immoral, when they don't see it that way.
     
    Some Guy and Nesian like this.
  19. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,066
    Likes Received:
    3,207
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    @ Thundair, the sodomy laws were intended to be morality laws, so I see what you mean. My bad, didn't mean to turn it into a debate.

    Ah, now you bring up the intriguing conundrum of Nietzsche's Master/Slave Morality idea. In a nutshell, for those who don't know:

    Master morality was in effect in pre-Christian times, ancient Greece and Rome etc. Strength was considered The Good, and weakness and altruism were The Bad. So ruthlessness was a good thing, and butchering your enemies also. You would not stand for any insult against yourself or your family or friends. Murder was an acceptable solution, as was dueling or war. You made your name through feats of valor and bravery. Totally different from what most consider morality today.

    Slave morality was his name for the morality of the weak, the conquered, and well, slaves. They hated their captors and conquerors and hated their strength, which obviously they didn't have at least while captive. So their morality was the opposite––strength and bravery etc were seen as The Bad, to be reviled. The Good was meekness and altruism.

    From a master morality viewpoint, the slave morality of Christianity screwed up everything!

    But even today, there are regions, occupations, families etc where master morality is practiced, and the strong prey on the weak. Politics for one, where the powerful endorse and even codify into law strict slave morality for the masses, and pretend to it themselves, while behind the scenes engaging in wickedness and barbarity that would almost make some of decadent Rome's worst emperors blush.
     
    Some Guy, Nesian and Rockatansky like this.
  20. Arsel

    Arsel Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2019
    Messages:
    111
    Likes Received:
    83
    In what sense created to do it? If this is someone I really cared about, I would be ready to do it. The idea of being linked this way, like marriage but stronger, it kind of strikes a romantic chord of mine in a really weird way.
     
    Some Guy and Rockatansky like this.
  21. Some Guy

    Some Guy Manguage Langler Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 2, 2018
    Messages:
    6,614
    Likes Received:
    9,984
    Location:
    The kingdom of scrambled portmanteaus
    OT. Writing immorality is the author's playground. Violence or destruction may be immoral unless it's for the greater good, which is subject to interpretation. I prefer to turn morality itself on its head. Imagine a person who loathes murder, yet willingly kills billions of people. Then, of the survivors he lets tens of thousands die of starvation. How could you empathize with him, even if he passes a sentence of death upon himself? Where's the morality in government-sanctioned teen sex? Under what circumstances do morals become immoral? Tune in next episode for the exciting conclusion!
    (I could tell you now, but then I'd have to kill you) :D
     
    Xoic likes this.
  22. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2019
    Messages:
    2,066
    Likes Received:
    3,207
    Location:
    edge of the spacetime continuum
    That would be... immoral. (Insert Spock pic)
     
  23. EFMingo

    EFMingo A Nefarious Flamingo Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2014
    Messages:
    2,264
    Likes Received:
    3,642
    Location:
    San Diego, California
    I think I actually prefer immoral characters, over the heroic Mary Sues. They just feel more real to me. Everyone has negative actions, thoughts, or reactions and the immoral characters are reflection of many a person's regular thought process, not including the social extremes of course. But take into consideration adultery, theft, threat of violence, or sometimes even actual violence. I think it's important to understand that nobody is constantly the "good character" and even the paladin can waver on their faith.

    What I try to write is these immoralities that are held within regular people's minds, and maybe sometimes even my own. This off-centered, often dark image of a person's personality is most of the time the hardest to reveal, and even harder to self-admit. At least with poetry, I try to get the reader to self-admit, and to relate with these immoral characters, characters who have one or many things wrong with them that they are often trying to cover. But it's part of who they are, and it effects those around them, sometimes without their understanding.

    I guess I'm an advocate for the immoral characters because I think they are all of us, whether we want to say it or not.
     
    Malisky and Rockatansky like this.
  24. Aurora ✾

    Aurora ✾ New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2019
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    the wilds of Pennsylvania
    At least for me, I find inspiration for immoral characters from real life. I feel that I'm a person with strict morals myself, so it's not enough to just write the opposite of what I would normally do. Reading history, watching murder cases, or even watching the daily news usually gives me more than I could possibly need for immoral ideas.
     
    Some Guy likes this.
  25. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    3,887
    Likes Received:
    2,646
    Location:
    Australia
    I found the best way to write 'immoral' characters is to simply write actions true to the character, based on real people in our society, sourced from a mixture of news, arts and observation. Let them have real actions borne from desire, greed, lust, and other emotions. Let the reader decide if they view those actions as immoral.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2020

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice