A Hero is a Hero is a Hero...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by No Suns Blind Me, Sep 15, 2014.

  1. No Suns Blind Me

    No Suns Blind Me Inactive, Dismembered

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    Most of the protagonists I create aren't squeaky-clean; they've got, by and large, enough baggage to cause a 747 to hit the trees. Despite all this, all of them have a basic morality that they cling to through all their travails. Maybe it's a sign of my weakness as a writer that I don't create a completely amoral character around which the story's centred, but I just can't shake off my own ethics when typing away.

    Don't get me wrong - writing bad guys is fun, but only when they've been designated in my mind as Bad Guys. It's probably quite limiting, but it's also a matter of personal preference – I can't get emotionally invested in characters I don't feel deserve to exist.

    Are all your heroes good people? If not, how far down the scale do they have to slide before you feel they deserve everything they get? Does an author's morality even have a place in a work of imaginative fiction?
     
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  2. Firiath

    Firiath Halfling barbarian

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    I'm no author, but I do love creating characters and playing out scenes in my head, so I guess that's enough to respond to your question. When I think about my characters and compare them with each other, I realise all of them have a different level of 'goodness'. Most of them have very strong morals, and if I tried to classify each of them as "lawful/chaotic good/neutral/evil", none of them would be chaotic. Probably not even my villains (which might make them less interesting, but then again, it's not like I'm writing a story for an audience).
    And although some of my characters have flaws that I dislike (which is something I find very hard to keep up) or have made (potentially amoral) mistakes in their past, I want all of them to have the potential to be a hero, but in different ways.

    This much from an amateur. :p
     
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  3. No Suns Blind Me

    No Suns Blind Me Inactive, Dismembered

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    That's pretty much the way I roll: my heroes are never beyond redemption, nor my villains. By and large though, none of my characters ever have a happy ending, even if they 'win'.

    I'm an amateur myself - I've been writing for years and have never sent a single word to a publisher. Part of it's because I don't like the thought of being edited, part of it is just because I write for the joy of writing and commercial considerations don't mean much to me. :)
     
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  4. A Ghost With Toast

    A Ghost With Toast Hello from the gutter!

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    All of my creations are human, thus they are neither good nor bad, damnate nor divine. They're just poor schlubs caught up in situations they're either incapable of understanding or ill-equipped to overcome. I'm not prolific of course, so I have a limited amount of material to judge, but by and large each character is a creation of my own aspirations and reacts how I hope the average human would react in a given situation. This is not, I realise, the most objective way to write or animate the puppets that wander across a keyboard, but since when has writing been free of personal bias?

    My protagonists are generally good because I believe that most human beings are good (unless warped by repressive religion or some other abhorrent social doctrine). If nothing else I give my heroes/heroines a chance, a chance to do the right thing regardless of the cost to themselves. If they choose the one over the many then that's a burden they have to carry until the tale plays out.
     
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  5. Running Wolf

    Running Wolf Join the Madness

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    I'm not a professional author either, but here comes my 2 cents:

    When I started writing my characters were flawless - which bored even me, so those stories aren't longer then 10 pages.
    I realized pretty quickly that human beings aren't perfect - and that human beings aren't mindlessly evil either.

    So, now my characters are usually what the circumstances made of them. One has been put into an impossible situation and while I thought about it, I sadly came to the conclusion that the circumstances, the adrenaline, the fear, the desperation will let him commit atrocities that he'll never recover from. Sucks for... but IMO there are some situations that turn humans into monsters.
    So... does my hero have moral standards? Yes. Does he manage to meet them? No. Did he do things beyond redemption? Well... I fear yes. Is he therefore evil? No. Is he good? No.
    He's just trying to get by.


    But I get what you mean when you ask: "Does an author's morality even have a place in a work of imaginative fiction?"
    I find it very hard to write characters I don't like, characters that don't meet my personal moral standards. Which is why I usually screw them up >.< But yes, IMO, it's your work, so you decide what you can and cannot write about. And IMO many immoral actions can be understood if you look at the circumstances and the background in that character's life.
     
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  6. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    A characters morality is defined by the writer and the reader.

    The writer certainly puts the words on the page; they craft the character and define the actions (and most times the reasoning behind them) that the character enacts.

    However morality in itself is partly dependant upon the perspective of the individual; as such the final level of morality is the readers viewpoint as well. Because they add the final bit - the bits of the character that are not quite there in formal written text that flesh that character out into more than just words on a page.

    As such the readers morality will affect a part of the characters as a result of what the characters do and do not do. In addition its what ends up classifying the character in the story.


    Now many times reader and writer get it pretty close. It's a result of the fact that most of the time we read books written and published with a general time frame that we live within; and the nature of the worlds publication industry means that we oft read more from countries that share the same ideals and ethical standards as our own. AS a result there is a lot of moral similarity between reader and writer.

    You can see this start to get eroded away when you start to read older books - sometimes you'll see a character perform actions that you'd consider immoral; but which are moral for the time in which they are written and set.

    The hero is still the hero, but maybe not quite as morally squeaky clean as they once were. Although if the reader is partially aware of this aspect when reading they can kind of twist their viewpoint - adjust their reading mind a little to "fit into the times" of the era in which the book was written.
     
  7. Midnattblod

    Midnattblod Ranger of Shadow

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    I'm a person who will just start writing about a particular character and over time they get fleshed out. even if it takes a few iterations before I get to what I'm happy with, over time I get it to where I want it and move on. it's actually how all my writing is like, not just characters, but also landmasses, races, and whatnot. I don't think I ever go into a writing session knowing exactly what is going to come out of it. be it whether or not this character is going to be 'good' or 'bad', or whether I decide to add a random lake or forested region here or there, or even the name of a particular character or city or whatnot. I know this probably doesn't answer anything, but to me, every character is a hero. it all depends on who is reading the story. some people might root for the bad guys just because they can, and I think if the author goes into writing the story not knowing what's going to happen, it might give more people who do root for the bad guy more pleasure in reading it because most books you already know the good guy is going to win, which gets old after a while, though it is still exciting to see the trials they go through to get there.
     
  8. GrimWarlock

    GrimWarlock Daemon Prince of Tzeentch

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    A hero can never be an absolute 100% true pure good hero. Heroes are in reality a delusion, they would work in a realm of ideals, but reality is very much not like that, don't think about alignments AT ALL, when I write - good and evil as a concept beyond what a person thinks they are does not exist whatsoever, there really is no need to consider somebody with alignments, don't make people good and evil - just let them be what they are. From a purely objective point of view - morality does not exist, it is made by ourselves, for ourselves - and that sure as hell doesn't make it a force of the universe that bends it. It is just something we make to bring order in our understanding of the universe and how things work, we lie to ourselves because we're scared of the truth that the universe really really sucks