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Crossing Shonen and Byronic Heroes

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by OberonLordofSylva, Sep 10, 2020.

  1. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    My two major weaknesses in writing are characterization and cartography. I have a habit of focusing on a character's temperament and ignoring the actual fine details that go into making a character. I also have a habit of focusing on a character's development as a fighter than an actual character. This problem is best exemplified through my main protagonist of the flagship of my mythos, Jack Ridley. My goal with Jack is to create a hybrid of a stock shonen hero(Asta, Ichigo Kurosaki, and others like them) and a byronic hero(Victor Frankenstein, Jack Skellington, and the Phantom of the Opera are my only real influences. I haven't read nearly as much American or European literature to properly inform myself of this archetype). Shonen heroes are kindhearted berzerkers who tear through any obstacle screaming their head off and smiling afterwards. Byronic heroes are broody, contemplative, elegant geniuses who prefer to think through a problem while they still have their sanity intact. A shonen hero punches Cthulhu in the face and wins. A byronic hero slowly succumbs to the dark temptation Cthulhu provides in spite of their best efforts. A shonen hero tells a story about personal growth. A byronic hero tells a story about tragedy and decay.

    In spite of these differences I've found a few points where the two archetypes intersect. The first is the demonic contract. Shonen heroes often gain power-ups from a demonic source. Naruto has the Kyuubi, Ichigo has his inner hollow, and Rokuro has his cursed arm. Some, like Edward Elric and Gon Freecs, gain power from refinement of an internal power and don't need Hell's help. Byronic heroes meanwhile, are defined by their darkness. Their demons are often metaphorical, but are demons nonetheless. I think that binding tragedy to a demonic power-up is a good angle, the only series I can think of that tried that is Bleach. Good for me because it's relatively original, bad for me because I don't have a good example to follow. Another point of common ground is physical attractiveness. A shonen hero may be oblivious to their good looks and it may be overshadowed by more intentional examples of male beauty but if they wanted to they could coast on hotness just as effectively as actual celebrities. Byronic heroes know that they're attractive and their look is very intentional. Whether they're aristocrats, madmen, or literally homeless these guys always look like they came out of a goth fashion magazine and it's to help sell the central point of their characters. Black clothes, thin but chiseled faces and frames, messy but not frizzy dark hair(or straight up white in anime-influenced works like mine), and eyes with a glimmer of madness are the look for these characters.

    Jack Ridley is supposed to a tragic anti-hero but his arc is about him reconciling with his darkness and gaining power from that harmony. Jack deals with trauma, self-hatred, anger, and the prejudice of others. He has to live in a society that doesn't really want him there. He has to deal with being an outcast who reeks of death and bad karma. The shonen part comes into play with his relationship with his darkness. At first Jack can barely contain his fury at the world but as the series goes on he finds his place in the world and achieves harmony. It's very similar to Shinji Ikari's character arc in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Like Shinji, Jack must earn self-love. Only by doing this can he reach enlightenment and learn to love others. Like Shinji, Jack is a good person who keeps getting screwed over and kicked while he's down but comes out of it stronger. The problem is that unlike Shinji, Jack isn't handled by someone who understands that kind of suffering. I know what's it's like to be unbearably lonely sure, but I'm fortunate enough to not have experienced trauma or to be hated by others. I've never been in that me against the world situation ever, and while I hope that never happens to me it does restrict my ability to write such a character. I'm worried that, due to my poor characterization, he'll end up being an edgelord. I want to portray his struggles in a mature, serious manner. I want him to be like Shinji Ikari, not Kirito. Any advice is helpful and I apologize for the multiple paragraphs.
     
  2. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    I've never ridden a dragon, and yet I write urban fantasy where they drive Aston Martins.

    You've got a lot of thought put into your themes and character arc and I strongly suspect you're an academic like I used to be. In other words, thinking is good, but you've got to really feel your story. Don't just analyze your story. Live it. So what if you haven't gone through these experiences yourself? Do your homework and find the people telling their own stories. Practice quality violence in a controlled setting. Get out of your comfort zone. That's how you learn to slip into your character's skin and write them authentically.
     
  3. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    I already create scenes my pacing around my room talking to myself like a madman but I'm worried that I'll exaggerate the wrong bits of what I'm trying to say. As for the academic bit, I am not an academic in the sense that I went to college and got a degree on this stuff. Personally I'm of the opinion that college is too expensive for what you get out of it. I am an academic in the sense of always learning about something in everything I do, even if the action itself is as trivial as watching a TV show. My image for what I want to be can be summarized within the "gentleman and a scholar" archetype. In this sense intelligence is a goal, one that must always be striven for but can never be truly attained. Thank you for your advice.
     
  4. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

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    They’ve been crossing those kinds of heroes since the 70s.
    You ever heard of Captain Harlock?

    But seriously, a shonen hero is supposed to embody the concept of Yamato-damashii and demonstrates the virtues of persistence, resolve and capability. They are also, at once naturally gifted but also require discipline and focus to master their natural gift.

    The best definition I’ve seen for Byronic hero is “"a man proud, moody, cynical, with defiance on his brow, and misery in his heart, a scorner of his kind, implacable in revenge, yet capable of deep and strong affection".

    I suspect your character’s self-loathing is a big fault with your plan for him. Both shounen and Byronic heroes are steeped in romanticization and pride in themselves (if not outright ego). Also, not much hate or prejudice in either of them save for Byronic heroes hating their own kind (like a rich Byronite would hate aristocrats or something like that),
    And edgelords tend to be loaded with a very shallow and insincere form of self-loathing and misguided hatred towards whoever (or just the world itself).
     
  5. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    Thank you. The crux of Jack's character arc is rage rather than self-loathing. To be more specific, rage is the biggest and most important demon of the bunch. Boosting Jack's confidence isn't an issue so long as the crux of his internal struggle, the struggle to contain his fury and eventually reconcile with it, is intact
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    How much have you actually written? I've found that issues that seem large in planning become minor once the story begins. Naturally, stuff I hadn't even thought about in planning can arise like a sea monster from the deep once I'm in the thick of writing.
     
  7. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    I've written very little actual story, due to my poor map-making and low self confidence. I have about 100 total pages of notes and I'm definitely the type to plan everything out
     
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    So, I can only speak from personal experience, but perhaps you can find something of use here.

    First, I don't think mapmaking has anything to do with story telling. One can hire a mapmaker. One cannot hire someone to tell your story for you (pace, ghostwriters). So let's set that to one side for now.

    I can't help with self-confidence. I get discouraged, I get lost, I get overwhelmed, but I've never felt what I hear from other folks about low self-confidence. I've always plunged ahead, somehow. But I can encourage others!

    Most particularly, I cannot recommend too highly getting one story told. All the way to done. I struggled and struggled with my first novel, mostly because I couldn't see the shape of the story. Somewhere along in there, an idea for a short story came to me. I wrote it and sent it off to a magazine and it got accepted, though not without some revisions. That helped my confidence, of course, but more importantly I now felt what "done" feels like.

    It's great. It's like getting applause. I could finish a story. It gave me a resolve to keep going, like a runner who knows they can finish this race because they finished that last one. And you don't know that feeling until you've crossed over the finish line.

    So, lots of folks will say "just write" but when one's story seems to stretch out forever, that advice is daunting. Instead, consider writing *something*. Not for yourself, though. Write something you're going to show to others. It might be for critique here on Scribes or elsewhere. Even better is to submit it to magazines because that forces you into a somewhat different mindset. So long as the story is just shown to friends or critiquers, it's never really done. Once it gets to a magazine editor, it really is done.

    When you have that, when you know what "done" feels like, then you can tackle your "real" project with more confidence. At least that was my experience, and it's something I've heard from others. Heard it often enough to believe it's worth recommending to others.

    To circle back to your original question, I again have to say to start writing. What you have now are ideas and theories, and these will be constantly changing, not least because you yourself will be changing. When you start writing, the shapeless begins to take shape, the moving targets sit still for a time. Until then, you're arguing definitions with yourself. Notes don't count. They may be necessary and even fun, but they don't count. Only storytelling counts because only by telling stories do you learn how to tell stories.
     
    Eduardo Letavia and jacksimmons like this.
  9. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    Thanks for the advice. I didn't know you could hire mapmakers, I'll have to look into that sometime. The problem is that I have lots of lore but not a whole lot of story. I have a vague outline for the story I want to tell, but once I get to the desktop I come up blank in spite of all my planning.
     
  10. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    There's also mapmaking software, some of which can be accessed online. Do a search here at Scribes; those options have been discussed.

    >The shonen part comes into play with his relationship with his darkness.
    How did Jack come into this relationship? Was it there from birth? Did something happen? How does he interact with this darkness?
     
  11. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    Jack Ridley was born Alois Weiss, the first of a set of Elf/Demon hybrid quadruplets. The natural elven light magic and demonic darkness affinity combine in these children to create Chaos, a rare cosmic power feared by the gods. Jack's magic is specifically tied to his emotions, and the sealed Chaos intensifies those emotions. As a result Jack has to train his body and mind to control his power and unlock the secrets of the Weiss bloodline. The metaphorical darkness comes from the consequences of having lots of power but not having full control over it. That's the byronic part. The shonen part manifests in how he deals with his situation.
     
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    OK, so he was born like this. Infants are not famous for being able to control their emotions. Maybe his magical abilities did not manifest until he was older? I'm trying to get at where Ridley first had to wrestle with this, what happened, how it happened. Did he do something awful? Did he do something small and secret? Did he save a dog?
     
  13. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    I think that Jack's grandfather could be a trigger for that. He was an abusive, darwinistic maniac who tried to "teach" Jack and his siblings how the world works. The grandfather also teaches the kids how to fight and cast spells. It was all very spartan and I think the trauma from that and feeling like he had to protect his younger siblings could set Jack down a downward spiral.
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Still. When does the magic manifest? A magic-wielding four-year-old is terrifying. I suppose you could have magic manifest from birth and the adults around the child have ways to suppress it until the kid at least learns to speak.

    An easy way out of this is to have magic manifest at puberty. That way, the young 'uns aren't dangerous. Magic is viewed as a "grownup" thing, which makes it desirable to the younger ones. Willing, perhaps, to endure Grandpa in order to get to the adult world. Pubescent emotions run raw, which would justify Grandpa's determination to crack the whip. Gotta keep the young ones moral after school, as the song says. It would also make entry into magical powers be something that happens at a particular point, compressed to a few weeks or months, and so something identifiable and memorable.

    And, kids being kids, it opens up the possibility of Jack doing magic in secret. You know, doing what he's "supposed" to do while being watched, but sneaking out to the forest to try out new things. The magician version of sneaking a smoke.
     
  15. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    That's not how magic works in my world. It's an art that is taught rather than an innate power. It's taught young because magic in my world relies on imagination, and no one had more imagination than a child.
     
  16. For me, this contradicts with
    If magic is something which is taught then there isn't really something as race specific magic or power of your bloodline. Then there is only teaching and your affinity. You can choose to practise light magic or chaos magic or whichever magic you want. Or be taught instead of choose of course.
     
  17. OberonLordofSylva

    OberonLordofSylva Troubadour

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    Affinity is a biological trait. Affinity for Chaos is a rare specific mutation of that trait. I apologize for explaining it so unclearly. Chaos is also a divine secret, alongside Void, Time, and Death Magic. Without the affinity, you don't the secret magic. Most secret magic is developed on your own using other elements as a foundation. It should also be noted that the entire house of Weiss has the Chaos affinity but the grandfather is the worst at it out of all of them thanks to his focus on physical power and his reputation as the strongest elf. Besides, good shonen heroes get stronger and tap into hidden talents all the time. Jack leaning Chaos Magic is an example of that.
     

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