Wednesday, October 16, 2013

10/16/2013 Writing Wednesday!

Hello everyone and welcome back! So sorry for the delay, I don't remember if I said anything, but Monday was a holiday and my morning was spent sleeping in and playing Pokemon X (I needed to get my Sylveon, I have no regrets) so I'm sorry for any confusion. I'm more able to think straight now, which is a good sign. Now if I could only get rid of this lingering cough we'd be fully in business.

So something I wanted to talk about today is the use of an 'anti-hero' as your main character. These are your Punishers, your Dr. House's, your Dexters, or your guy from Breaking Bad (I think I'm one of like...4 people in the world that didn't watch that show) and in the end they might not actually end up being good people, but you still root for them because there are a lot of people that are worse than they are. This is a risky game you play using them as your protagonist and a TON of people are doing it right now, so I thought it would be a good thing to talk about, especially with NaNoWriMo right around the corner.

So generally the world of the anti-hero is going to be a bit darker than the one of your standard 'good guy' mostly because you need to show why they are the person you need to be cheering on. I think my mother said it best when trying to justify why the character Dexter was the 'good guy' and it was 'He only kills bad people!' Of course my answer was that 'that doesn't make it ok!' but that's not the point. The point is that Dexter is the good guy, even if he murders people, because the people he's removing are absolutely awful and shouldn't exist. You want the Punisher to win because awful people made him the way he is and they are still worse than him. There are still the instances of the antagonist and protagonist, they're just sliding down that scale toward the morally gray and really bad more than shining example of good.

Another version of this is House. He's an anti-hero because he's a jerk, a super big jerk to everyone, but he has a charm that makes you laugh, also everyone that tries to stop him is wrong. Always wrong. He's also a force that causes the other people around him to develop a conscience and act as the good person to House's constantly being a jerk. I'm sure you're all expecting me to bring up Tony Stark (using the movies as reference, as it is an easier continuity to use than all of the hundreds of comics) but I'm not, mostly because while he has an ego and is an ass at times, Tony Stark does want to do good and learns over the course of the movies he's in. House is always a jerk, and didn't actually do something nice until the end of the series, and even then it's still kind of jerkish because he was a medical genius who left the practice to ride off into the sunset with his (admittedly cancer battling friend) but still that's literally what he did.

A good anti-hero causes the people around them to be better than they are, while still making you root for them. It's really weird that this is becoming more of a popular thing to do, but the way you need to look at your anti-hero when you're writing is that they are a kind of antagonist. Not the "bad guy" mind you, because as stated before there are going to be people FAR worse than they are that give them motivation to react, but they are going to be someone that causes another character(s) to step up and start being better as a result of what the anti-hero is doing. There is always a character that looks better while standing next to the anti-hero. Dr. Wilson next to Dr. House always looks like the stronger moral character because Dr. Wilson wasn't a dick. I heard everyone loved Jesse in Breaking Bad and that he did things that weren't completely as awful as Brian Cranston's character (again I didn't watch that show). Niles goes through more character growth and is a much better person than his brother Frasier if for no other reason his psychiatry practice doesn't immediately break doctor/patient confidentiality in concept. I'm sure you get my point by now.

Just remember when you're writing a story with the anti-hero as the lead that there needs to be a lot of justifiable motives for them. Maybe they were made bitter by years of the world punching them in the neck, or there's a revenge thing because awful/terrible/evil people did unspeakable things to someone and then killed them, or maybe they moved back home after spending almost every day in a bar in Boston and realized those years there being wasted all the time were wasted and the world has moved on without them. (I've...been watching Frasier) Either way there needs to be motive and it needs to be something the audience can watch and say 'yeah that makes sense, go be awesome!' and if they can't then you have a problem.

Thanks everyone for stopping by again. If you have anything to add about anti-heroes or anything we talked about today, please feel free to bring it up. I'd love to see what you guys do when you're working with an anti-hero, or even a protagonist that has to deal with one. Also, if you're curious, I can go into my whole theory about how Frasier's the antagonist and Niles is the protagonist in that show. Either way, I appreciate the visit, and don't forget 'The Light Rises' is 50% off until the end of October when you use coupon CN49P at Smashwords. I'll be back on Friday, pending more disasters, so I'll see you all then!

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