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Does saving a society give you the right to sabotage it?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Annoyingkid, Jan 9, 2018.

  1. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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  2. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Oh yeah...I have nothing but sympathy for that.
     
  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Lol. Not doing yourself any favours AK. This character is pure villain in my eyes, too.
     
  4. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    He's done some very nasty acts on innocent people order to be initiated into the bandit tribes to find out and prevent their big society destroying plans.
    He's killed a father in front of his children, and bullies citizens into training for the militia. Even though they're tired from their day jobs. But he believes it's necessary to keep society running.

    But he feels that because he had to do so many horrible things, he's grown fed up of the thankless work and that he deserves to only ask for this one thing. Because if he refuses to fight from this point on, they'll lose. He truly believes it, and he ends up being correct on that.

    So he's holding them to ransom - as they only way for them to not be invaded is for him to deny his desires and continuously do his self imposed service to the world.

    --

    Whereas his sister's counterargument comes down to:
    - If they don't stop the enemy now, he'll move onto other planets and galaxies. And he didn't save them, but he can, now.
    - He can't know for sure that their parents are dying.
    - She wants to find them too and will gladly help him look when this is over.
    - She has saved his life before, that doesn't then give her the right to then doom him.
    - If he quits, she'll just have to work harder.

    My idea with this is to reframe her as the antagonist against his goals and follow his thoughts instead. To have the reader follow the more flawed, human perspective against the, heroic, more selfless one portrayed as an obstacle.
     
  5. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I say burn him.

    What you are describing is a man who has become resentful, perhaps even feels they deserve it. All well and good, but he's drifted over to the bad guy side. I feel maybe he has stared too long into the abyss...
     
    Heliotrope and Annoyingkid like this.
  6. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

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    I have to agree. I see nothing sympathetic about him.

    What I would probably do is frame his story about a hero falling into darkness and becoming the villain and ultimately have him and his sister have to come into conflict.
     
  7. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    From my perspective right now, this character walks the path of the villain.

    This runs along the same lines of the novel I'm in 3rd draft with, where I have the hero turn to darkness and the villain turn to the light. The hero's fall is in part due to him beginning to think he deserves and is entitled to things because of the suffering he's had to endure.

    The villains redemption is possible in part because they're truthful about the despicable things they've done. They don't justify it as right or their right. They just think it was necessary, because they don't know any other way. He freely admits that he's done wrong and feels remorse at being unable to think of a better way.
     
  8. glutton

    glutton Inkling

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    Or under 5' tall with pigtails and a giant weapon? :D
     
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  9. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I cannot imagine sticking around in a story for very long for a character like what has been described. But then, I don't much like grimdark, so I may not be the right audience. You're getting a lot of nays, but it's your story. Go ahead and tell it. Make him the way you want. Almost any book can find its audience.
     
    Michael K. Eidson and Lisselle like this.
  10. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    For the most part, very immoral action he takes is to prevent a worse outcome down the road though.

    I would also argue that this is like a Titan holding up the world. Is that Titan morally obligated to keep holding it up perpetually for no reward, just for the sake of others, denying the thing he wants the most?
     
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.
  11. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Are you saying Atlas should shrug? I am not sure the same morality applies to gods, or in this case titans. Atlas was condemned to hold the world as a type of eternal punishment. I am not sure it was his choice to do so or that he could willingly give it up. Probably he would if givin the chance. The morality of doing so though would be upon the gods i think.
     
  12. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    Assuming the puishment was self imposed and he could give it up but there's no one strong enough to replace him. Would he be a bad person for giving it up and the Earth be damned?

    Of course it's debatable that this character is THAT vital, but these are the kinds of things he typically deals with:
    Bandit plans to integrate into society and drive it into the ground and burn down crops on a large scale, Schemes to assassinate the royal family, poisoning water supplies, constantly destablilizing them and killing the most intelligent bandits, basically singlehandedly keeping them in check. in addition to making sure every city's militia maintains martial standards across the country.

    The professional army on the other hand controls the population of monstrous creatures in the far south, protects the capital state, works to claim new land overseas and intervenes in any threat too dangerous for millitia. They're not set up to fight a secret war and are behind the times in that way.
     
  13. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

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    A hero, does what they do not for recognition, not for reward, but because it's right. They may fail and fall short, but their motives are unselfish and they will sacrifice their own needs for the greater good.

    If that same person changes and decides they will only do things for reward, and put their own needs above all others, then I'm not so sure they can be considered the hero any longer.

    When someone voluntarily takes on a responsibility, they take on the responsibility, and any harm that comes from them abandoning that responsibility is on them.

    It's like when someone decides to become a parent. They take on the responsibility of raising a child. If they suddenly decide that they don't want that responsibility any longer for what ever reason, that's fine. But they have to take steps to ensure the child is taken care of, because if they don't and harm befalls that child, it's on them. And, IMHO, they would be a bad person.
     
    Tom likes this.
  14. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    Well...he would not be a bad person, he would be a bad titan.

    I distinguish that cause the Titans in the Greek tradition are kind of precursors to the Gods, and essentially Gods themselves. I think Gods have a different relationship with morality than a person would. At the very least, a God can know things mortal types cannot.

    And so Atlas is holding up the sky (not really the earth, but meh...) as eternal punishment for already being a bad guy. (It is true some version of Atlas have doing other things like guarding pillars and such, trying to cut through all of that). If Atlas was to put down the sky, the result might be more Titans, which Zeus will not allow. And so, this argument is kind of an issue for the Gods to solve. (I feel I should add though, that I dont know many who look to the Greek Gods as paragons of virtue, or role models for moral behavior).

    I think Atlas would hold on to the mantle of being a bad guy if he put the earth down, or rather, will have retained continuing to be a bad guy. He is defying at that point the will of the Gods, refusing the consequences of his actions, and risking the lives of many.

    I am gonna move away from that.

    I think can happen that some people can assume responsibilities, and it would become wrong for them to give them up. Wrong being on many levels. Sometimes people give up responsibilities they should not, and the consequences are small, or things turn out all right in the end, but really, they should have owned up and did the right thing. Many don’t. I am sure you know examples.

    I think it can also happen that responsibility can be thrust upon you. In which case, the circumstances of its imposition may not be entirely fair to you, but the refusal to take ownership can still put you in the category of being in the wrong. And even a villain. A soldier who abandons his post, a doctor who refuses to treat, a father who abandons his kids... I am sure you can think of examples here as well.

    In this case, and God knows morality is a very tricky thing, your character is not a God. Your character is in a position of trust, and is choosing to betray that trust. He is in the role of villain. If Atlas has assumed a positon of trust, volunteered to hold the sky, let things thrive underneath of him, and then without warning dropped the sky, he would also have done a dishonorable thing and be responsible for the outcome. IMO, he would be a villain, and Zeus (among others) would justly have issue with that.
     
  15. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

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    Hi,

    This is actually a messy one in my view. Your MC has done terrible things that he didn't want to do in order to achieve a greater good - that's always problematic from a morals POV. Now he's willing to risk letting all of that greater good be lost in order to do something of personal goodness - ie save his parents. He's in a mess.

    Now if you want to make him relatable to people when he's doing all this terrible stuff - before the betrayal - you really have to dig into his head and show the reader the depth of his emotional commitment to the greater good. This part is almost Abraham sacrificing his son for God. But if you do that, how do you then have him betray that. It wouldn't read as true to me. Alternatively if you do want him to betray his God suddenly your reader is left thinking - well he can't have been all that devout etc before. He didn't really care that he was doing all those terrible things.

    What I would suggest if you want to go down this path is show him being torn emotionally by the betrayal. Which means you have to have that parent son bond also bound into the story's / and his DNA. It has to be too close to his heart for him to lose it. Even at the expense of all he believes. What you want I think, is for your MC to end up totally selfless in this. He has to save his parents. He has to do this by betraying his god. But he also has to then save his god with all his might, even to the end of his life. It's not really a redemption arc, so much as a sacrifice arc.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  16. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    There are moral obligations, legal rights, societal customs and traditions, etc., etc., any of which could be construed as determining the rightness or wrongness of an action. It's your world and your story, so define rightness and wrongness within the context of your story world. Perhaps some readers won't like what you've written because it doesn't fit their perception of right and wrong. There might also be some readers who enjoy reading your story because you have them examining their own opinions of right and wrong. I suspect my WIP will not be well received by everyone who reads it. Like you, I will take into account what beta readers have to say, and I'll probably give their opinions more weight than the opinions of those who haven't read the story.

    In my opinion: Having said all the above, the question is not one of right or wrong. It's not even a question of whether a reader will find the character sympathetic, or have any empathy for him whatsoever. The question is whether your vision is worth sharing with anyone. If the answer is yes, then stay true to your vision. If the answer is no, then write whatever you want and shelve it when you're done, and learn what you can from the experience. If the answer is maybe, then perhaps you need to refine your vision for the story, which could lead to the answer you seek regarding rightness and wrongness, but could also lead to rewriting the story to fit the refined vision. Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best.
     
    Russ likes this.
  17. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Banned

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    He's not the MC but he is prominent. I'm following his perspective for this particular arc, but the MC is the one who's trying to stop him. However it's supposed to come off as hero vs anti hero with the reader having no idea who will win as both have understandable but contrasting point of views. Not hero vs villain with people expecting the hero will win with one right and the other completely wrong.
     
  18. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

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    While the individual may not 'have the right' it is certainly a route to justifying his actions/motivations to himself.
     
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