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 The Imperfect Hero

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Shix
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PostSubject: The Imperfect Hero   Wed Nov 04, 2009 12:40 am

Any thoughts on creating anti-heroes? Do you use them, or are your main characters predominantly without flaws?

The story I'm working on (well, I've written the prologue so that's something) essentially has two main characters. Whilst both of them seem quite "good" on the surface, they have flaws that I'm sure will test the reader's willingness to sympathize with them as the story progresses. But the flaws interest me and make them real.

The lead female character becomes a mother in the opening chapter and spends the rest of the book doing everything she can to ensure the safety of her children; although to begin with (as a first-time mum struggling with the emotional highs and lows that comes with that) she's hell-bent on saving her own neck and not theirs. She struggles with the feelings she's supposed to have towards her kids and those she actually has, though as the story progresses she gradually learns what it is to be a mother, to be selfless and to give everything to protect her children, leading to her eventual death on the last page of the book.

My male lead is, on the surface, a strong fearless individual, cloaked in mystery and arguably the person you want to be next to when things go wrong (and do they what). But ... and it's a big but, his motives aren't what they seem and neither is he. His secret his essentially the twist towards the end of the story, one that I'll conceal without completely misleading the reader. I've never written a character like him, but I can't wait to, and I can't wait to see what sort of reaction he gets. To sum him up in ... seven words (sorry, had to count :) he is: the greatest hypocrite to walk the earth. And I'm asking the reader to invest their time in this guy, struggle with him, cry for him, cheer for him then ... drop the book in disbelief upon realizing who it is they've been barracking for.

So anyone else with thoughts on the imperfect hero? Do you choose to reveal these imperfections straight away, or hide them, use them as twists? Can't wait to bring these two to life now ... :)
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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:44 am

Well i think it depends on both the writer, reader and each individual story.

Personally, a book which doesn't have flawed heroes would be very very boring, and i think part of the fun is actually discovering and going deeper and knowing the character more and mroe.

I'm really intriqued by the sound of your characters Stix, especially the mother, cause although i'm not one (and won't be *touch wood* for at least another 5-10 years - i hope) sometimes the whole 'mother' natural bond doesn't happen or is hard especially if things are going badly and it raises lots of interesting questions. its great to read about a character which develops positively, but its just as good and interesting to see the anti-hero emerge from a positive place.

I think (and i know tv show) Battlestar Gallactica was quite good at taking characters who were good under normal circumstances, but under the constant pressure/tension morphed and changed into the antagonist (while they themselves think they are doing right). That is what i find very interesting, the whole black/white thing is very boring, lots of grey is needed Smile

for eg. Jane Austen does a good job in portraying Wickham in Pride and prejudice as being the 'good one' although she provides continuously subtle hints that 'all that glitters is not gold' until the reveal 3/4 through, where Wickham is a complete manipulative scoundrel, and moody prideful ignorant Darcy is actually decent enough.

personally i love books that twist expectations - i think thats why the book thief is so excellent, because death is portrayed in such a kind and caring light, while life/humans are seen as just horrifying

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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Wed Nov 04, 2009 2:53 pm

I agree with Emily. I not only think that black/white characters are boring, I also find them completely implausible. How can you develop any sort of connection with a hero that is all good? Or how can you understand a villain who is all bad?
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Shix
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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:36 am

In the stories you're all working on at the moment, is it easy to distinguish between your heroes and villains? Do you find yourselves striving to find good qualities in your villains as much as bad qualities in your heroes? Or is it tipped one way or another?
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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:30 am

Personally, what i try to do is see the story from one perspective, then switch it to another.

So i look at the motivations of the 'hero' and then i look at motivations of the 'villian', i actually don't like to label them as either/or as i think humans and characters should be more complex than that.

a great example of twisting this is the dexter tvseries/books where the serial killer is the hero who the reader roots for and hopes will escape the authorities! Reason being we see it from his perspective and see his reasoning/motivations for what he does (and of course he's made more relatable/sympathetic cause he kills 'bad' people).

I think in writing, its important for the reader to get a sense of who to 'trust' as the hero/villian, but i don't think it needs to be very obvious. No one is completely bad, we all have good points - so shouldn't the 'bad' guys too?

I think the most interesting 'villians' aren;t those who look for personal glory - but those who seek something 'bigger' and perhaps are the heroes of the piece if your story was to take place in the other side of the fence.

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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Thu Nov 05, 2009 5:43 am

Well, in the story I'm writing my villain is fairly villainous, although I'll eventually reveal some motives/background that should make the reader a little more sympathetic to his motives.

The two heroes in my story, the MC and another major character, are good people, yet they find themselves in some very difficult situations that do not always bring out the best in them. In fact, at more than one point in the story (including the first chapter, which gives readers a brief glimpse of the two heroes a few months into the story), it's not entirely clear whether these two characters are indeed heroes at all. The first chapter, especially, is written so that it leaves the reader wondering whether the MC actually ends up as a villain.
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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Wed Nov 25, 2009 6:11 pm

My characters all have their flaw and I don't really have a hero. I have a main character though and in one story, they end up ending on the "bad" side, but in her light it's not bad. It's kind of complicated.

I think though that things are varying on the writer. Some stories end up with it good, others bad, but if the writer tells it well it doesn't really matter.

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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Thu Nov 26, 2009 4:28 am

Blue - i think complexity is always a good thing to have in a story! I love when characters *think* they are doing the right thing - when they are actually on the wrong side of things.

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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:44 am

I love working with imperfect characters. I mean, after all, perfection is excruciatingly boring.

I am definitely one for writing characters that fall in the grey area, no matter if they're supposed to be good or bad. What I really love is writing stories where I have a "good guy" and a "bad guy" that are really both in that middle ground. I actually wrote a short story a couple months ago where the protag was actually quite a horrible person, but was still a sympathetic character because of how I portrayed his thoughts. I like to think so, anyway.

Man, I love that grey area. I think that's why I love stories by the Romantic writers so much.

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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:08 pm

I like the grey area, too. I think for romantic fiction, or commercial women's fiction generally, you need characters who have warmth, at least for your MCs. The female lead, especially, has to engage the reader - be fundamentally likable, however flawed. The male MC can be much more of a bad lad - provided he's sexy with it, and provided there is some kind of redemption for him at the end!
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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:11 pm

Actually Rosy, do you find as a writer of romantic/comercial (or oncampus Wink ) fiction that you need to portray the hero in a very 'perfect' light? Like eg. some authors write their heros as perfect 'alphas/betas'? or you know bad with really good intentions/redemption?

and generally asking everyone here - do you think genre influences the type of characters (also relating to heros/villians) that you portray?

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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:40 am

Well, I'm probably not a good example - certainly for romance - because I don't write alpha heroes. Mine tend to be very woolly and liberal, self-analysing, self-effacing, and very much NOT 'bad boys'. And so far I've got away with it! So maybe we shouldn't worry too much about writing to type expectations - unless, of course, you are writing for a category romance market, where there is much mire need to follow 'the rules'.
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PostSubject: Re: The Imperfect Hero   Sun Nov 29, 2009 4:03 am

Thats good to hear Rosy!

Your probably right, not being a romance writer myself, it seems really complex with its subgenres, rules and regs lol.

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