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Thread: How Bad does a Bad Guy Need to be?

  1. #41
    WF Veteran Gyarachu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Which would scare readers more, Sauron or John Wayne Gacy? Sauron might be more fun to read about, in an RPG sort of way, but he's not going to be knocking on my door, at 3:00 AM. Someone like Gacy just might... I've never felt dread about any antagonist in any fantasy story I've read, and I have a perfectly well developed imagination, thank you. But really all we are doing here is splitting hairs between the realms of fantasy -- where anything goes, which is fine -- and more realistic fiction in which the readers expect more realistic antagonists. It all goes back to what has been said several times, "the character is as bad as he needs to be for your story."
    My point was that I can imagine many things that don't exist, put myself in such a world and such a situation, and imagine what facing such a thing would feel like. Many readers can, and that's why so many are drawn to fantasy. If you cannot do that then yes, the problem is on your end.
    "Fantasy is the literature of hope. In fantasy there is a belief that you can make a difference. Today may be bleak, but you can live through today. And tomorrow will be better. And maybe there'll be a different darkness tomorrow, but you can live through that, too, and you can make the light come, and the darkness go away. It doesn't matter how many times the darkness comes. There is always hope for something better." ~Robert Jordan

    "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ~C.S. Lewis

  2. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Gyarachu View Post
    My point was that I can imagine many things that don't exist, put myself in such a world and such a situation, and imagine what facing such a thing would feel like. Many readers can, and that's why so many are drawn to fantasy. If you cannot do that then yes, the problem is on your end.
    What problem?
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
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    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

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  3. #43
    WF Veteran Tettsuo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gyarachu View Post
    My point was that I can imagine many things that don't exist, put myself in such a world and such a situation, and imagine what facing such a thing would feel like. Many readers can, and that's why so many are drawn to fantasy. If you cannot do that then yes, the problem is on your end.
    Who said I couldn't imagine it? I said I'm not afraid of some make believe pure evil entity. I'm more afraid of people that are willing to do anything to cause me and my family as much harm as possible because they exist and have existed.
    Where you can purchase a copy of Fallen Sun, my second novel. Hidden Content

  4. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Gyarachu View Post
    I never said anything to the contrary. If that was all directed at me, you spent a lot of time arguing against something I never argued.
    My bad I was going to respond to you, but I didn't and it kept the quote my bad
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  5. #45
    WF Veteran Gyarachu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    What problem?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tettsuo View Post
    Who said I couldn't imagine it? I said I'm not afraid of some make believe pure evil entity. I'm more afraid of people that are willing to do anything to cause me and my family as much harm as possible because they exist and have existed.
    Well it appears we've gotten nowhere. Time to agree to disagree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ptolemy View Post
    My bad I was going to respond to you, but I didn't and it kept the quote my bad
    I figured. No worries.
    "Fantasy is the literature of hope. In fantasy there is a belief that you can make a difference. Today may be bleak, but you can live through today. And tomorrow will be better. And maybe there'll be a different darkness tomorrow, but you can live through that, too, and you can make the light come, and the darkness go away. It doesn't matter how many times the darkness comes. There is always hope for something better." ~Robert Jordan

    "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ~C.S. Lewis

  6. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by Gyarachu View Post
    Well it appears we've gotten nowhere. Time to agree to disagree.
    Nowhere? Really? A new writer reading through this thread will see that it's important to consider just how she wants her antagonist to come across, and might realize that the nature of the antagonist could very well depend on the genre in which she plans to write. They might also learn that the most important criteria for designing an antagonist is the story itself. A world-eating-mega-demon might be just what's called for in an epic fantasy tale, or the charming sociopath who coaches your kid's baseball team on weekends could be just the ticket for a thriller. Sure, we didn't come to a consensus, but how can we when the needs of our chosen genres vary so much?
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

    Our job as writers is to make readers dream, to infiltrate their minds with our words and create a new reality; a reality not theirs, and not ours, but a new, unique combination of both.

    Visit Amazon and the Kindle Store to check out Reflections in a Black Mirror, and Chase

    Hidden Content






  7. #47
    What people seem to have lost sight of is that good and bad are plot concepts. Our protagonist is good and the, whatever, is evil. So what? Story happens. It's emotion, not fact based, and it's lived, moment-by moment. Stick with the idea of a "bad" character and your antagonist is a plot device whose every thought is to do the things the author dictates, without question. So on the horror movies the evil insects/worms/snakes/zombies, etc., pour out of the ground and no one ever asks what they've been living on, or why they're so fixated on killing our hero.

    But in life our antagonist makes decisions based on "What's in it for me?" So do we. Forgetting that, and making the antagonist's driving force be the author's plot line destroys all sense of reality.

    The classic structure of a scene/sequel on the page is:

    • The protagonist either enters the scene with a short term goal or quickly acquires one.
    • She or he is attempting to reach that goal when something interferes.
    • The protagonist works to regain control, but each effort is thwarted as the stakes rise and options narrow. This continues until—to stop the scene from descending into melodrama—the protagonist is forced to recognize defeat and withdraw, ending the scene.
    • The protagonist must lick his/her wounds, think over what must be done to salvage the situation, and plan for the next encounter. That done the sequel ends and the next scene begins. Danger is greater. Options narrow. But our protagonist is steadfast, of necessity, for reasons we make plain (and which cause poetic justice to demand the protagonist prevail).

    Does it matter that the antagonist is an insane megalomaniac or a businessman who needs the protagonist's property for a business deal? No. What matters is that the situation in the moment the protagonist calls "now," causes him/her to stretch and grow—to reach deep inside and become more than they thought they can be.

    It's the problem in the moment that keeps the reader turning pages, not some concept like good or evil. When someone is trying to bash your head in you don't worry about good or evil because survival is what counts.

    So...toss a body through the overhead to crash onto your protagonist. Set the house on fire and lock the doors. Be a bastard to your poor protagonist and test him/her to the limit. Put the character on a slope, running to keep from falling and unable to catch their balance. Keep the reader to busy worrying about what to do next to think about concepts. Make them care. Make the story move. Screw plot. Plot's for you. Action is what the reader wants.

  8. #48
    Quote Originally Posted by The Fantastical View Post
    While I understand the many comments about you don't actually have good guys and bad guys just antagonists and protagonists... but isn't that sort of indicative with modern fantasy, with it's habit of moral grayness and totally ambiguity as to who's actually good? I don't know about you but I think that fiction needs the moral divide, humanizing the villain is all very.... ambiguous of you but fiction is a parody of life, not its perfect reflection. Simply reflecting back what is already in the world, might make you feel all warm and un-hypercritical inside because you aren't called to judge a character, but that doesn't allow us the stark contrast needed for us to make that this side or that judgement. Which I think is important to make.
    OK. And yes, these sorts of black and white morality tales exist ... for children. However, the popularity of anti-heroes and shades of moral grey tell us that even older children understand that not everything - in fact, almost nothing - is empirically black or white, good or bad.

    We like heroes who face moral dilemmas. We like good people doing bad things. We wanted Butch and Sundance to get away from the Bolivian soldiers. We wanted Han Solo to smuggle stuff and shoot down Empire fighters and bombers. We wanted Wolverine to trash the place. We wanted Gladiator to kick the shit out of the Emperor. We wanted Robin Hood to take Maid Marian (sp?) away from the duly appointed Sheriff of Nottingham, and her maidenhood in the process. We wanted Batman and Spider-Man to kick the crap out of the real villains and escape the vigilante charges against them. We wanted Firefly to outrun the reavers and the central authority to show the people what the real crime was and who did it. We want post-apocalyptic worlds where laws are forgotten and heroes make their own rules, and their own choices.

    Perhaps the pendulum will swing back, and perhaps you would be ahead of the curve, but I think that as a story-loving society, we have grown well beyond the simplistic good is good and bad is bad. We know better, and we want stories that don't insult our intelligence.

    If the enemy is not redeemable, then it is a waste of space and must be eradicated. Starship Troopers. Lord of the Rings.
    "I don't know ... I'm making it up as I go ..." - Dr I Jones

    Nature abhors perfection - cats abhor a vacuum!

    "Faith can move mountains - she's a big girl!" (unknown/graffiti)

    If I act like I own the place, it's because I did.





  9. #49
    WF Veteran Gyarachu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terry D View Post
    Nowhere? Really? A new writer reading through this thread will see that it's important to consider just how she wants her antagonist to come across, and might realize that the nature of the antagonist could very well depend on the genre in which she plans to write. They might also learn that the most important criteria for designing an antagonist is the story itself. A world-eating-mega-demon might be just what's called for in an epic fantasy tale, or the charming sociopath who coaches your kid's baseball team on weekends could be just the ticket for a thriller. Sure, we didn't come to a consensus, but how can we when the needs of our chosen genres vary so much?
    Yes yes that's all well and good, but it's not what I was referring to. The very fact that this is your response reinforces my conclusion that our discussion went nowhere. Not exactly in a negative way. Just a misstep in communication, it seems.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cran View Post
    OK. And yes, these sorts of black and white morality tales exist ... for children. However, the popularity of anti-heroes and shades of moral grey tell us that even older children understand that not everything - in fact, almost nothing - is empirically black or white, good or bad.

    We like heroes who face moral dilemmas. We like good people doing bad things. We wanted Butch and Sundance to get away from the Bolivian soldiers. We wanted Han Solo to smuggle stuff and shoot down Empire fighters and bombers. We wanted Wolverine to trash the place. We wanted Gladiator to kick the shit out of the Emperor. We wanted Robin Hood to take Maid Marian (sp?) away from the duly appointed Sheriff of Nottingham, and her maidenhood in the process. We wanted Batman and Spider-Man to kick the crap out of the real villains and escape the vigilante charges against them. We wanted Firefly to outrun the reavers and the central authority to show the people what the real crime was and who did it. We want post-apocalyptic worlds where laws are forgotten and heroes make their own rules, and their own choices.

    Perhaps the pendulum will swing back, and perhaps you would be ahead of the curve, but I think that as a story-loving society, we have grown well beyond the simplistic good is good and bad is bad. We know better, and we want stories that don't insult our intelligence.

    If the enemy is not redeemable, then it is a waste of space and must be eradicated. Starship Troopers. Lord of the Rings.
    As usual, responses like this continue to miss the point entirely. Little better than strawmen, and arguably as simplistic as the "morality tales" they're employed to rail against.

    But I've tried. We've tried. Many have tried. I think it's just the way it's going to be.
    "Fantasy is the literature of hope. In fantasy there is a belief that you can make a difference. Today may be bleak, but you can live through today. And tomorrow will be better. And maybe there'll be a different darkness tomorrow, but you can live through that, too, and you can make the light come, and the darkness go away. It doesn't matter how many times the darkness comes. There is always hope for something better." ~Robert Jordan

    "Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again." ~C.S. Lewis

  10. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Gyarachu View Post
    Yes yes that's all well and good, but it's not what I was referring to. The very fact that this is your response reinforces my conclusion that our discussion went nowhere. Not exactly in a negative way. Just a misstep in communication, it seems.



    As usual, responses like this continue to miss the point entirely. Little better than strawmen, and arguably as simplistic as the "morality tales" they're employed to rail against.

    But I've tried. We've tried. Many have tried. I think it's just the way it's going to be.
    I'm sorry, but what point have we missed. I was addressing the OP.

    So, ante up. What have I missed?
    "I don't know ... I'm making it up as I go ..." - Dr I Jones

    Nature abhors perfection - cats abhor a vacuum!

    "Faith can move mountains - she's a big girl!" (unknown/graffiti)

    If I act like I own the place, it's because I did.





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