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When the MC isn't the "ONE"

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by DassaultMirage, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. DassaultMirage

    DassaultMirage Minstrel

    My WIP is about a young man trying to find his way around a world running on magic. He and his two younger brothers are the rightful heirs to the throne after a genocide and a failed invasion that killed the rest of the royal family save for the three of them.

    Here’s the thing. My MC is a Damocles, that’s what they call the members of The Order of the Hanging Sword. How the members of the order were born immensely powerful no one knows, but being a Damocles comes with a string. It used to be that they are to use their magics solely against the Nephilims, but as the Nephilims were driven near extinction over centuries of being hunted down, the Order of the Hanging Sword added a new mission to its slate: That no man nor nephilim shall possess enough power as to hold dominion over the progress of the human race.

    The Order of the Hanging Sword became responsible in making sure none of the nations are to form alliances critical to the balance of the power. The new mission also means that the Order of the Hanging Sword is to keep anyone from completing the pieces of The Lesser Key, a book that houses the last Fallen in need of a human avatar.

    The main plot of the story is that the MC is given one Nephilim to hunt, and it eventually spreads out into a web of deceits and battles which will cause him to unravel just how perilously close two forces are from completing the Lesser Key. This mission will stop only after the genocide.

    Of course this meant that by being king, my Damocles MC will not be treated kindly by the international community and a lot of complications will ensue. The MC then decided to pass kingship to his younger brother, a 17 year old of sheer military brilliance. The Order of the Hanging Sword, being grateful for the MC’s maturity, refrained from giving him hunting missions that he may stay and help his nation get back on its feet.

    The failed invasion might have, well, failed, but it left the nation in ruins. Here’s my dilemma. The new king is brilliant. He will kickstart a massive rebuilding, not leaving a single nook nor cranny unnoticed. From the military, the economy and up to the morale of the people, the new king will cover it all in a span of half a year. There will be fast-forwards of course, but I fear that for at least half of the book, the sheer genius of the 17 year old king might outshine the MC, especially since during these periods, all that my MC will do is assist his brother.

    I need suggestions just how am I to circumnavigate this problem. How will I deal with one character possibly outshining the MC? Is it all right for that thing to happen? Since after the rebuilding, the story will focus on the MC’s hunt again anyway.

    I will really appreciate all replies. May y'all have a good day of writing.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  2. GeekDavid

    GeekDavid Auror

    Bring in a Wise Old Counselor to lead the MC down the path he needs to tread. Think Obi-Wan or Gandalf.
    DassaultMirage likes this.
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

    The focus of the story shouldn't be on the most awesome character or the most powerful character, but the most interesting character. Interesting is most easily achieved via showing him overcoming struggles.

    I'd say that it's perfectly fine for the MC to be outshined.
  4. DassaultMirage

    DassaultMirage Minstrel

    And I guess that means that the younger brother will be the most interesting, since his genius will rebuild the nation. Okay. Suggestions taken. I guess I could add conflict by the MC feeling a bit jealous or something.
  5. buyjupiter

    buyjupiter Maester

    I had a similar thing happen in the novel I wrote in September. It started with my MC and protagonist being the six year old girl, but I realized about half way through plotting that it wasn't going to work. If she's my only MC, and everyone else is going to be a supporting character, then it's going to be classified as children's literature. And this story is not suited for a young audience. I would hesitate to say that it's suited for a YA audience, although they could read it and not find much in the way of offensive material. I've just handled adult material that teenagers aren't experienced enough to completely comprehend the awfulness of long term relationship disputes, the loss of a child, etc.

    So, I had to shift gears mentally and rewrite a few sections to focus on the mom's journey. I'm most interested in the mother's story and the confrontation/interaction between her and her sister. So that's worked out well for me.

    My biggest advice is write about the characters that interest you. If you try and force something that isn't coming together on its own, it's harder to write passionately about the character. Sometimes you discover that you were really trying to write this other story entirely, and those are the best discoveries, in my opinion.
    Ruby and Jabrosky like this.
  6. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

    Seems to me you should embrace the new character outshining the MC, if only to help you avoid falling into the cliché trap.
  7. Characters aren't loved because they're ingenious or brilliant. They're loved if they're multidimensional and that means having both flaws and strengths. Nobody is perfect and I'd say most people have an easier time relating to a character that has flaws. Also, there is no law that prohibits strong (in terms of depth) side characters.
  8. Ginger Bee

    Ginger Bee Scribe

    Your main character doesn't need to be the most powerful, most interesting, or most anything at all. Your main character is simply the lens through which you observe the events.

    For example, think of Napoleon's reign. A story could feature him as the main character. But think of all the other interesting perspectives that could lend you a more interesting story. Perhaps one of his generals, perhaps Napoleon's wife, or a servant in the household. Each of those perspectives would yield an entirely different story, even though the main story elements (battles, coronations, etc) remain the same.

    A portion of your book may feature the boy-king as more influential to the events that unfold, but that does not make your MC less of a MC, so long as you keep a focus on telling the story as he experiences it.
  9. psychotick

    psychotick Auror


    Could I suggest considering Moby Dick, Twenty Thousand Leagues or The Island of Doctor Moreau. The MC isn't the biggest, badest, brightest or most interesting character. He's the observor of these characters, usually at once awed by them and horrified.

    It seems to me that your MC could be for these six months or so cast largely in that role, but perhaps also wondering if he did the right thing in unleashing his little bro on the kingdom. It was a high stakes gamble making him king and his inner turmoil could be wondering if he made the right decision and perhaps trying to stay out of the way when he really wants to wade in boots and all and fix the messes. I'd guess that his little bro might be a genius at many things, but has weaknesses elsewhere, like people skills which tend to get in the way.

    Cheers, Greg.
    DassaultMirage likes this.
  10. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    Two films come to mind:

    Marathon Man - look at Dustin Hoffman and Roy Scheider.

    - Look at Paris and Hector.
  11. UnknownCause

    UnknownCause Dreamer

    To me your problem doesn't seem to be the MC, I think your problem is actually his younger brother. It's okay for the brother to outshine your MC... To some extent. Now this doesn't mean have your MC be a thinly-disguised Superman. Make your characters - including the side ones - have flaws. One way to do this is to put them in different scenarios, even if you never plan to use them in the book. Your MC doesn't have to be the almighty warrior, but he has to be interesting enough to be the MC. If the brother works better as a Main Character, then why not use him? Hoped this helped -Unknown
    DassaultMirage likes this.
  12. DassaultMirage

    DassaultMirage Minstrel

    I wrote a short scene where the boy-king is in his room silently crying about his self-imposed inferiority complex, for as the neighboring nations prosper, theirs is deep in the muck. Since they are sorta orphans, I am planning to make it that the boy-king needs the MC to function properly, moral support and parental figure and those sort of things and that without his brothers around, the boy-king is actually feeling lost. Think that would work?
  13. UnknownCause

    UnknownCause Dreamer

    I don't rightfully know, actually. It depends on everything, really. Just go with what you think will work, and if it doesn't, scrap it and start from the last square.
  14. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    I agree with buyjupiter that you should write about characters that interest you. Often the villain is more interesting than the hero especially to write about, I find. You can have an anti-hero as long as he/she has some redeeming quality the reader will identify with. Btw I just read buyjupiter's blog and liked the article about killing a child's teddy bear, and how she, the writer, felt guilty as it was the only thing the child loved. Wow!
  15. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    That depends on how well you establish and integrate it. If it's something that shows up in that one scene, but isn't really reflected in the rest of the story, it won't work. If it's something that doesn't feel relevant to the problems the boy-king faces, that won't work, either (though it sounds like it will be relevant.) If it feels like a natural part of the boy-king's characterization, and it has an effect on the progression of the story, it should work.

    On a side note, how does the MC relate to the boy-king? How does he feel about being the parental figure? How does being in this position affect the way he acts and thinks? It's probably a good idea to have the situation affect him as well as the boy-king, just in different ways.

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