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Almost no redemption?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Trick, Jun 6, 2014.

  1. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    My MC is basically an anti-hero. My main antagonist is beyond despicable, though not in his own opinion, obviously. There is one secondary character who is truly good and she dies. Only one character, whose flaw is cowardice, is actually redeemed. No one else improves in a moral way. Change happens, rapidly in some cases, but no other redemption.

    Does this sound altogether too depressing?
     
  2. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    It sounds like I wouldn't read it. But given the popularity of Game of Thrones, I'm sure there are plenty of people who would.
     
  3. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    That's sort of my worry. I definitely give the impression that there will be a kind of redemption. There just never is. I don't want readers to feel betrayed but the current story arc works so well I don't want to change it. The MC has redemptive qualities I suppose, but they never improve.
     
  4. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

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    Not necessarily.
    Even a despicable character can be a fun read - I love Cudgel and the other self-centered characters in Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories.
    Game of throne succeeds because its multiple POVs and there are many characters who you do root for. (Even some of the less honorable ones have some good in them which we want to see redeemed). Hannibal gets away with his nastiness because he reserves his nastiness to those who are 'impolite'. Dexter manages the same as the ones he kills are worse than him.
    Much of the fun is in seeing truly nasty characters get their comeuppance.

    But if you're using a truly nonredeemable character as the main protagonist, without some form of humour or the satisfaction that he gets his just desserts then maybe that would lose me. Mainly I think this is because most people identify with the protagonist in some way - even if they're bad there's a small part of most people who would like to experience that character type, but if you make it too difficult for that link to happen (because they're exceptionally horrible with no positive traits) then it becomes too hard to care about them in any other way than waiting to see how the bas**rd dies (which to use another GOT example is what happened with Joffrey - no redeeming features at all - but boy were we happy when he was killed).
     
  5. Terry Greer

    Terry Greer Sage

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    Having said what I did before - there's always exceptions and if you think it works then great. :)
     
  6. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    Then I would revise it so that there is no implicit promise to the reader that redemption is coming. You can do pretty much whatever you want in a story... except break your promises (explicit or otherwise) to the reader.
     
    Michael J. Tobias likes this.
  7. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    It's not that he's 'nonredeemable.' he just doesn't get redeemed in the book. He accomplishes things, amazing things. Characters that the readers are supposed to hate will die at his hands. He is snarky and sarcastic but also cruel so readers may like him even if they don't want to. They'll probably feel sorry for him too.

    He approaches sociopathy with open arms though he never quite manages the complete emotional numbness he seeks. And when you think he'll be fixed, that one, final act will allow him to recover his broken humanity, it turns out you were wrong and so was he.

    He remains vengeful, hateful and ruthless. I don't promise that he'll change anywhere in the book, but it is very likely that readers will expect it.

    EDIT: to clarify, it's in FP POV and it's memoir style, so the MC makes lots of promises to the reader that he doesn't keep, so they won't be completely set up for a fall
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  8. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    You could try making him more of an "unreliable narrator". That way the reader knows to be wary of any promises the character makes.
     
  9. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    That may have been my (subconscious) intention. I'm not sure I'm good enough to pull that off. Any recommendations of books with unreliable narrators that I could read?
     
  10. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    The Book of the New Sun series by Gene Wolfe is also told in a FP memoir style by an unreliable narrator who is a decided anti-hero.
     
  11. Trick

    Trick Auror

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    Thank you! I hope it's on audible :)

    EDIT: it is and I just got the first one for 1 credit

    RE-EDIT: I'm getting a little weirded out. My WIP is called Darkling Sun and it is a science fantasy in a FP memoir style with an anti-hero MC. And I've never heard of these books before. Thankfully, the plots are quite different or I would think I'd read these in my sleep or something. More coincidences, Gene Wolfe and I are both devout Catholics and while he worked as an engineer, I'm currently studying engineering... dun dun DUN!
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2014
  12. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    I second this recommendation. I thoroughly enjoyed those books.
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Thirded.

    /10char
     
  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Try Ian Graham's novel Monument, which is quite good.
     
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