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How to make a patriotic "freedom fighter" likable to my readers? (1 Viewer)

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MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
Such a sad day for America with all the controversy with the Trump mob storming the US Capitol yesterday. Long story short, I though about making a character influenced by what happened yesterday. If you know the whole story of that one woman Ashli Babbitt who got shot in the neck at the Capitol and later died...I saw the video and it was sad...her being a 14-year Air Force veteran and her having a USA flag tied around her like a cap and her bleeding out and dying on it literally. What she did was wrong, yes, but I thought about a character from my own story I'm currently writing.

My character is also military veteran who is very strong-willed (iron-willed) and is like a freedom fighter...though she does it for more ethical reasons than Ashli did yesterday. My character is proud of her country and stands strong for what she believes in. This particular character will die in the story, similar to how Ashli did yesterday (though not by a gunshot would to the neck), probably by combat. My character will die on her country's flag.

I would say my character is perhaps a little bit controversial and has lots of crazy ideas. Her comrades/friends say (even joke about) doing all this crazy stuff she does will eventually get her killed, and sure enough it happens later in the story.

What are some tips to write a character that is very patriotic and loyal to her country but seen more as a "freedom fighter" than anything else? How to make her likable? If you wrote this Ashli girl into a story, what would you change about her to make her more likable in a story?
 

Tettsuo

WF Veterans
Have her history come up
Have her talk about the most important things in her life (like nieces and nephews, mom and dad, etc.)
Give her a pet she loves
Show her doing something caring
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
Brave heart is a freedom fighter. I think you need to look up freedom fighter. It’s like the Irish under oppressive Britain and like the Karen people in Burma/Myanmar. It’s easy, just make the group they are fighting for oppressed (show the horrible brutality they are living under). and willing to risk everything for freedom. And everyone will root for people who have had everything taken away from them. This is actually the easiest way to make people like a character, imo.

Imo your character needs to leave the palace and be taken in by an oppressed group who she will want to fight for and win back her crown to rule all in peace. But if that doesn’t float your boat... actually I don’t know who doesn’t love a story like that.
 

BornForBurning

Senior Member
what would you change about her to make her more likable in a story?
I wouldn't change anything. In this case, the moral ambiguity contributes to the overall tragedy; and I do think ambiguity is important in a work of POLITICAL fiction. Politics is not about ideals and theory. Politics is about application, boots-on-the-ground, the nitty-gritty.

Though you could always have the third act plot twist where the protagonist suddenly figures out who the REAL badguys are...
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
History determines whether a person is remembered as a 'freedom fighter' or a 'terrorist'.
My character is also military veteran who is very strong-willed (iron-willed) and is like a freedom fighter...though she does it for more ethical reasons than Ashli did yesterday.
Ethics are usually applied either through the lens of history, or the viewer's prejudice (if you agree with their actions they're a patriot, if you don't they're a terrorist). To the English, Wallace was a terrorist. It was only after Scotland gained some independence that he was considered virtuous (although this might still be controversial in some circles).

I suggest you write your character honestly as who she is, and let your readers decide if she is good or bad. Remember that no matter the circumstances, people are nearly always heroes in their own minds. I've always found villains more interesting than squeaky-clean heroes.

My WIP has no protagonists - my two MC's can be classed as antagonists. They're horrible people at the start because they've endured horrific pasts, but improve as the story progress (the theme is redemption).

ETA: Winston Churchill is an excellent example of this - the world remembers him as a hero that led England through WW2, but the Irish hate him due to the atrocities of his Black and Tans. People are complex, and I think are best depicted that way.
 

MistWolf

Senior Member
Your job isn't to make your character likable. Your job is to make your character one the reader can sympathize with.

To classify someone as either Freedom Fighter or Terrorist is wrong, especially based on the victor's point of view. During the American Revolution, strong arguments were made to storm the homes of the those loyal to Britain and slaughter them and their families. George Washington strictly forbid it and made it stick. Washington knew to do so was wrong. Today, we recognize this would have been an act of terrorism. Washington was a patriot and if we had lost, he would have been hung by the British as a traitor. Was Washington a traitor? If defying tyranny is treason, yes. He was a traitor. But he wasn't a terrorist.

Someone who deliberately targets and bombs a school full of children- even if every child in that school were the offspring of the worst tyrants in history- is an act of terrorism, whether they fight for liberty or to bring forth tyranny.

Indianroads, a protagonist is a protagonist whether they are the most vile creatures of all existence or perfect angels. In a story about characters fighting against the evil tyrant Darth Vader, the Sith Lord is the antagonist. In a story about Vader bringing order at any cost to a galaxy infested with dangerous anarchists, Darth Vader is the protagonist.
 

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
History determines whether a person is remembered as a 'freedom fighter' or a 'terrorist'.

Ethics are usually applied either through the lens of history, or the viewer's prejudice (if you agree with their actions they're a patriot, if you don't they're a terrorist). To the English, Wallace was a terrorist. It was only after Scotland gained some independence that he was considered virtuous (although this might still be controversial in some circles).

I suggest you write your character honestly as who she is, and let your readers decide if she is good or bad. Remember that no matter the circumstances, people are nearly always heroes in their own minds. I've always found villains more interesting than squeaky-clean heroes.

My WIP has no protagonists - my two MC's can be classed as antagonists. They're horrible people at the start because they've endured horrific pasts, but improve as the story progress (the theme is redemption).

ETA: Winston Churchill is an excellent example of this - the world remembers him as a hero that led England through WW2, but the Irish hate him due to the atrocities of his Black and Tans. People are complex, and I think are best depicted that way.

Well said. Yes, humans are very complex. The character I'm speaking of from my own story has endured a very tough past, and the people around her are very shocked at how she is still even standing and breathing through all the shit she's been through. She's a darker character but sees the light, she stands for what she believes in. She will die by her very sword if she has to. After what happened yesterday in Washington DC, I feel very strongly about this character. Nothing can hold her back for what she believes in. She isn't power hungry but she will seek to do what's right inside her heart. She believes what she's doing is very noble, though others may think she's a bit crazy.
 

MorganaPendragon25

Senior Member
Have her history come up
Have her talk about the most important things in her life (like nieces and nephews, mom and dad, etc.)
Give her a pet she loves
Show her doing something caring

You make a very convincing point there. Yep, her history...her past...is a very big part of who she is and what she is known for. She is mortal but she has an invincible will. She's willing to die for the ones she loves and things she believes in. Since she doesn't have kids (many of my female character don't have children for a wide variety of reasons) but she loves her family (mother and father, cousins, nieces and nephews if I decide to give her any siblings, etc.). She loves animals. Her past is what makes her a roughed up person but she does things later in her life that make her more ethical, more likable. She feels very human.
 

Olly Buckle

Mentor
Patron
There is a movie concept called 'Save the cat' that could be useful. Basically you get them to do something early on (Like saving a cat) that will make the audience/reader think of them as basically a good guy. Once that idea is established they can do things that are not so acceptable and be forgiven it.
 

luckyscars

WF Veterans
My character is proud of her country and stands strong for what she believes in. This particular character will die in the story, similar to how Ashli did yesterday (though not by a gunshot would to the neck), probably by combat. My character will die on her country's flag.

I understand where you are coming from but there are a couple of red flags here, I think.

First of all, this notion of patriotism is one that is (gradually) becoming less and less appealing to people. It isn't really how patriotism works in much of the world outside of the US already -- the idea of 'dying on the flag' -- and I suspect even if you make this character likeable this will not be as effective as you would like.

People tend to react with some suspicion to characters that are chauvinistic and it's really hard to write a character who is patriotic that doesn't inadvertently cross the line into jingoism. It's not impossible, it's just hard. This isn't the 1950's and people are more likely to roll their eyes than in times past.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I understand where you are coming from but there are a couple of red flags here, I think.

First of all, this notion of patriotism is one that is (gradually) becoming less and less appealing to people. It isn't really how patriotism works in much of the world outside of the US already -- the idea of 'dying on the flag' -- and I suspect even if you make this character likeable this will not be as effective as you would like.

People tend to react with some suspicion to characters that are chauvinistic and it's really hard to write a character who is patriotic that doesn't inadvertently cross the line into jingoism. It's not impossible, it's just hard. This isn't the 1950's and people are more likely to roll their eyes than in times past.

I agree - and believe that characters need personal reasons for what they do; it makes them easier to relate to. This also provides personal stakes that go beyond altruism.
 
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