June 5, 2019 at 11:06 pm #90927
Hi everyone, I’d like some suggestions regarding one of my characters.
This particular character is reacting much more negatively with respect to a betrayal than the other characters are, and I can’t figure out why. 🙂
Basically, the other characters are upset and angry at the betrayal, but they move on to focus on other things (the betrayer is completely out of the picture at this point…mostly because he’s dead…) But this one character isn’t just angry at the betrayer, but he also reacts badly to those related to the betrayer, and is just generally more harsh about it than most of the other characters.
So, my initial plan was to have his backstory be either that he had betrayed someone, or that someone had betrayed him before the more recent betrayal. However, that’s a backstory that could be seen a mile away. I feel like every reader will be expecting that the reason he’s reacting so badly is because he has experienced betrayal in the past.
Is there any other backstory I can give him that would make a good twist, or at least a more interesting reason for his actions, rather than going with the simple cliche?
If I didn’t tag you, please feel free to answer anyway. I’d like as much advice and as many ideas as I can get. 😉
Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn WellsJune 6, 2019 at 9:23 am #90932valtmy@valtmy
I will need a better idea of the context. How important and impactful is the betrayal? What is the traitor’s reason for betraying them. Is it for purely selfish motives or does he think he is doing the right thing by changing sides? Do all the characters have an equal stake in the outcome or does your angry character have more investment in the traitor’s loyalty than the others ? How close were the characters? What was their relationship based on? If the traitor was someone your character placed much of his hopes and faith in, it would explain the greater anger.
I agree that having a ‘betrayal’ backstory is quite possibly the most boring path but I think it can work if (1) the backstory is unique and interesting enough on its own or (2) instead of putting the backstory later to explain why the character is reacting so badly, you reveal the backstory before the whole betrayal and use it as foreshadowing.
Another way to think about it is this: if your character is reacting so badly to treachery, it means that loyalty may be the highest virtue to him. In that case, you should consider why. For example, someone who is raised is a collective culture or who has been taught to belief in loyalty to the gang, family etc. above all else (e.g. Myeongwol from QOD) would react badly to betrayal. The “collective” mentality would also more naturally explain why your character is lashing out to the people related to the traitor (he is not viewing them solely as individuals that are separate from the traitor).
To use another example from my own writing, I have a villainous character who takes pride in the control she has over others, especially her loyal minions. So when that control slips away… yeah.June 6, 2019 at 12:49 pm #90938
@valtmy Sorry for the lack of context. 🙂 You actually have heard the premise of this story before – it’s DoJ.
So in answer to the questions on context, the betrayal happened before the book even starts. The whole plot is based on reactions to the unseen betrayal and how it affects the lives of the MC, who is related to the betrayer, and her family/friends. The betrayer did it solely for selfish reasons; he had no false loyalties except to himself.
It’s getting too confusing, so from now on I’ll use my character’s name, Kashti, when talking about him. 😉 I hadn’t considered that Kashti could have met the betrayer. He was supposed to be only one of the thousands of people impacted by the betrayal. That’s why it’s hard to figure out his motivations. But I could brainstorm in that area and see what I come up with.
The story is set in the middle east, so yes, there is definitely the perspective of collective culture and family mindedness and therefore Kashti isn’t the only one who originally blames the MC for her connection to the betrayer. It’s just that he takes way, way longer to get over it.
Does that help explain things better? Do you have any suggestions now? Thanks for discussing this with me!
…oh, and Kashti isn’t a villain. He’s just a sort of antagonist. The real villain is the betrayer, I guess, even though that guy dies before the book starts.
Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn WellsJune 6, 2019 at 12:51 pm #90939
@rochellaine Is his personality more prone to react that way, or does the betrayal effect him or something he is doing or someone he loves more directly?
"No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."June 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm #90940
@ashira That’s what I’m trying to figure out.
His personality is actually very nice generally. He’s loved by all his friends. He’s normally kind, helpful, and generous. That’s supposed to be in contrast to his reaction to the MC.
The betrayal didn’t effect Kashti more than anyone else, no. Not in an outward way, at least. The betrayer was someone in a much higher position, and Kashti is young, and not in any position of authority, so there are people who were much closer to the betrayer and impacted in a much worse manner than Kashti.
I’ve been thinking over it though, because Valtmy said the same thing, so I might make Kashti related to someone more important. That could help, I guess.
Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn WellsJune 6, 2019 at 1:01 pm #90941
what book is this?
"No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."June 6, 2019 at 1:08 pm #90942
@ashira It’s DoJ. You’ve read the first chapter, I think. It was a while ago though, do you remember?
Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn WellsJune 6, 2019 at 1:14 pm #90946
@rochellaine thought so! Of course I remember. 😀
"No matter how much it hurts, how dark it gets, or how hard you fall, you are never out of the fight."June 6, 2019 at 8:26 pm #90958valtmy@valtmy
I haven’t read DoJ in a while but I think I get the idea. Two other options come to mind:
(1) If you do not wish to give Kashti a more personal connection or investment with the traitor… well that just means he’s the historical equivalent of the keyboard warrior ranting and hating on Public Enemy No. 1 even though it has no real link to him because it’s the popular thing to do. Maybe he’s secretly insecure so that gives him a brief sense of moral superiority. To take it a step further, you can have it be such that he gains fame and fortune and rises up in society by being very charismatic and outspoken about it (like how people publish books and build internet followings in real life around their beliefs and ideas). Once that happens, he has to continue hating on them fiercely and cannot change because, well, it’ll be embarrassing and it will kill the golden goose.
In case you can’t tell, this sort of character is my kind of antagonist so I would love it if you wrote something like this. 😛 But I don’t think this is the direction you are taking Kashti so another suggestion…
(2) Maybe the reason why Kashti hates the traitor and by extension the MC has nothing to do with the betrayal at all. Maybe the traitor did some great wrong to Kashti before but nobody would believe him because of lack of evidence and the traitor had a good reputation at that time. So when the betrayal happens, Kashti feels vindicated rather than mad about the betrayal since the traitor’s true colours are finally revealed. However because he is still suffering from the effects of the wrong done to him, he cannot let go of the past and continues to hate. To make things worse, perhaps the rest of the society doesn’t really care or bother about what happened to Kashti, focusing on the great betrayal instead, so Kashti feels that justice has not truly been served since his own situation has been overshadowed and ignored. So he takes matters into his own hands and vents his frustration on our poor MC.June 6, 2019 at 11:31 pm #90966
@valtmy Thank you so much for your suggestions! I really, really like your second idea.
I’m sorry, but I don’t think Kashti’s personality fits with the first idea of your “favorite antagonist.” But I do find that characterization interesting too, so maybe I’ll use it someday. 😉
The second idea, about the traitor causing some injustice to Kashti before the main betrayal, is perfect though. I’m almost certain I’ll end up using that. It actually solves several other problems I had with the plot besides just Kashti’s personality problem, so that’s wonderful.
Thanks again for your help!!
Nonsense makes the heart grow fonder ~ Carolyn WellsJune 7, 2019 at 11:38 am #90971
@valtmy Ooh, I like your second idea a lot!June 8, 2019 at 1:50 pm #91001I, David@i-david
@rochellaine There are two elements that come to my mind, which I think can work separately or in tandem.
1. The betrayal of conviction.
Basically, think of a die-hard zealot watching the leader they’ve idolized and followed for so long renounce what he’s said and done. It would make them furious; all their former passionate support would turn into a passionate anger–towards the enemy, towards the “traitor”, towards everything and anything.
2. The betrayal of belief.
This one is similar to that of conviction, except it’s like the roles are swapped. Think of a teacher, mentor, guide, or just higher supporter in general. Maybe even just a friend. Point is, they believe in the MC. They believe… they can do that thing, or be better than how they’ve been, or beat the system, or whatever.
And then when they don’t… when they give up, or choose the bad, or fail to complete their mission… that belief is left to die. The person can be filled with anger, or more likely, disapproval. They disagree with what the other person did, or failed to do, and look down on them–whether out of hate, fury, or just sadness–because of it.
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