Is it possible for a good person to turn truly bad, or not really?

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Thread: Is it possible for a good person to turn truly bad, or not really?

  1. #1

    Is it possible for a good person to turn truly bad, or not really?

    For my story, I've gotten some feedback and some say that they have trouble buying that a character would be pushed so psycho, so quickly, but it's a screenplay, so it's not a long story by any means. But is possible, or are people just born evil to degree, and no one can actually do a 180 degree turn, unless it's over a long time period, with several pushes along the way

    Is it possible to turn bad but just one big push, in a not so long amount of time?

  2. #2
    you could use a Christian angle were everyone is born a sinner an capable of anything...most humans will revert to horrific deeds if they want...say a government tells them it's list is endless...I can't see how this would be a problem for your story..
    The only one who can heal you is you.

  3. #3
    Oh okay, and I was told to foreshadow dark sides more, but I feel that if I do that, when a character turns bad, it won't be a dramatic surprise, if I choose to foreshadow it beforehand though, will it?

  4. #4
    good and bad is subjective in any culture...if you want to shock readers about a character then make the person normal
    The only one who can heal you is you.

  5. #5
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
    Leafy suburb of North London
    Yes - Head injury, emotional trauma, circmstance can all radically affect personality.
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  6. #6
    Every human is capable of every conceivable atrocity - it's just that most never find themselves in circumstances which lead them to overcoming their external and/or internal inhibitions.

    So yes, it's entirely possible that a decent, even charming person can be gradually led down a path of depravity (or turn out to have been cruel and depraved all along). What makes this kind of scenario plausible are the circumstances that lead to the character's corruption.

    Personally I would suggest temptation with power. Power has a way of turning even very good people into complete assholes. Consider, for example, the guards of the Nazi death camps - the absolute majority of them were no sociopaths or pathological sadists by nature. In fact, outside their work most would find the lot of them decent, even likeable men who loved their wives and children, had friends and hobbies and were generally ordinary men, save for their very specific jobs. What made them into ruthless sadists once they put on their uniforms was power - the authority to do whatever they pleased with their prisoners in complete impunity. Same way a literary character could be gradually corrupted from a likeable protagonist to a loathsome villain by being cast in a position of authority with sufficient opportunities to abuse that authority.

  7. #7
    Oh okay. My characters motivations are more revenge based, as they turn bad and want to get revenge on other characters, when other characters get away with crimes. But I was told by some readers so far that they don't see the characters risking going to jail and losing their families to avenge a loved one, or to avenge a crime, as common sense would still tell them it's not worth throwing your whole life away over, and in real life, revenge almost never happens, just because of one crime only, and people just let the system make the final decisions, if it's just one crime, etc.

  8. #8
    Doesn't sound like an issue about human nature, but making a believable character arc.

    Sounds like your readers feel similarly about your character. The character's interpretations of events, their motivations and emotions, haven't been sufficiently explored to justify their actions.

    Take Daenerys in Game of Thrones. Turned into a tyrant in about 20 screen minutes, when we had 8 seasons to witness that transformation. Good idea, terrible execution. Utterly unbelievable transition: less a character arc, more a character assassination.

    I guess it could work without deep character exploration. Darth Vader just turns on the Emperor with no foreshadowing at all. But it works, mostly because we can all understand the power of familial love without any explanation. And it fits thematically: we finally see the true power of the light side.

  9. #9
    I suppose it would depend on how much your character has left to lose. Most people never exact revenge for wrongs simply because they have too much to lose, and hence either trust the system to take care of it, or look for alternatives.

    Which would actually make a decent revenge-based character corruption plot - after being failed by the system but still having too much at stake to take action himself, the protagonist seeks out a patron who would exact revenge in his stead, i.e., the patronage of the local mafia boss. This leads to his gradual corruption into ever more villainous state as one favour from the criminals leads to more and more favours being demanded of him in return, the man perhaps even volunteering his further services out of a genuine sense of gratitude and debt to the gangsters. Until eventually there comes a point where the protagonist is no longer any better than the gangsters.

  10. #10
    Oh okay. Well in mine, a character is raped and wants revenge, but I was told that they had trouble swallowing it, cause this happens all the time in real life, and you don't see those people cooking up elaborate revenge plots that are risky of jailtime and losing your families over.

    Another revenge situation is mine is that later on, a police officer is killed in the chaos, and the killers get away with it, and other cops who are friends of the dead cop's form a mob together to get revenge on them, but I was told that it's hard to believe that cops would be emotionally unbalanced enough to do this, over the death of just one officer.

    As for execution, the way, I wrote it was that after the cop is killed, the next scene that follows is the other cops discussing how the killers got away with it and how not enough evidence was left behind, and they want to get revenge on them. So it happens in the sense that it's the next scene, which would be at least a few days after the homicide, but I can't really think of any scenes to show in between, since there doesn't seem to be anything to show in between. Does that happen to fast?

    I thought maybe I could the killers do something to tick the other cops off more than usual such as perhaps mailing in the dead cop's severed head, for spite to the other cops, but I was told that it was too risky of of giving the cops, possibly more evidence to chew on, and the killers wouldn't do that for spite, if they were smart.

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