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Corrupting/Redeeming characters - How do you do it?!

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by Darth_Manion, Mar 14, 2008.

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  1. Darth_Manion

    Darth_Manion Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Right now, I'm having quite a problem with turning one of my main characters to the Dark Side. I've been doing just about everything I can think of; demonic visions, torture, betrayal, and planting the seeds confusion and doubt. But they just WON'T TURN! And what's worse, by the end of the story, they need to be redeemed! I'm afraid that after I actually do turn her to the Dark Side, I won't be able to bring her back without seeming like a poor writer.

    Has anyone else had a problem like this? How do you turn characters? is it hard work, or is it a breeze for you? Or do you have your characters stick with the side they're on and don't bother with that kinda stuff?

    Personally, I think temptation is a very intriguing theme, and thus may have extended my reach farther than my grasp with this one. But I'd also like to hear from the other writers and see what their views are on the topic.
     
  2. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    First of all, make a list of vices and redeeming qualities. Pinpoint things that will turn her and internal or external forces that can either keep her from turning back or be instrumental in getting her back.

    Then plan the pacing of the turn in excruciating detail so you know how far to take things in each step. Make sure that if the return is going to be sudden, you set up a personality where it won't be trite or just looking like the easy way out. If it's a gradual thing, start planning for the conflict within that makes the redemption possible.
     
  3. slow_dawn

    slow_dawn Jedi Knight star 2

    Registered:
    Apr 18, 2006
    Perhaps you could try killing off a character that you're character is close to. This way you could still have the temptation theme, as the lure of revenge may be too strong for your character to resist.






     
  4. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Well, that sometimes works, but there are so many reasons to become evil that have nothing to do with personal loss.
     
  5. Darth_Manion

    Darth_Manion Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Feb 5, 2007
    Actually, I had a death all planned, but then another sub-plot required me to keep the "dead man walking" alive. Sort of. I can't give too much away, you understand. Luckily, it tied in perfectly with another 'turning point' I had established (perceived betrayal), which is working nicely, but it's just not doing the job.

    The one thing that makes her the most vulnerable to corruption is her ambition. I felt like if I could make it seem as if everything she had ever worked for was an illusion that would be enough, but it turned out that she was just too determined to let it go. It's strange, when a character sort of gets away from you like that. :oops:
     
  6. JadeSolo

    JadeSolo Manager Emeritus star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 20, 2002
    Absolute power corrupts absolutely. That's all I can offer. :p Greed is good. That's another fun one.

    I've always seen ambition as requiring certain sacrifices - how far is your character willing to go? If you need her to turn to the dark side, she'll need to give up her soul or something very close to it (at least, that's how I look at it). What will drive her to that point - a series of choices that have built up over time, or that one moment where she makes a rash decision? Sounds like you need more of the former, especially since she's resisted the pull for so long. Unless that rash decision is something HUGE, something she's always wanted for her entire life, and here finally is her chance to get it...

    The interesting thing about temptation is that some people, despite taking the time to make their life choices, can still be swayed by the offer of an apple - it looks like such a simple choice, but the consequences hit hard. I think that might help with your character. It'll certainly be a nice contrast to what's happened to her so far - after all this time, done in by something so deceptively simple.

    With redemption, you could play with the idea of your character realizing what her choice brought about. Sounds almost too easy and not very complex, but people can be so blind to that one little fact in their lives. They'll make excuses, push the blame onto other people - like Anakin accusing Obi-Wan: "You turned her against me!" At the end of the day, it's another simple choice to bring her back to the light. But since your character seems to not want to let go of things so easily, the hard part isn't finding that one choice, but finding the moment when it would matter the most and give the most oomph to her story. Seems like she'd be way down the dark path before it happens.

    Of course, I have no idea what your character is really like, so I hope this helps somehow. :p
     
  7. Alexis_Wingstar

    Alexis_Wingstar Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 16, 2006
    What Jade Solo says makes sense. Sometimes we as writers make things too complex. Sometimes solutions can be very simple yet hard to see because we're making things harder than they need to be.
     
  8. DARTH_MU

    DARTH_MU Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 9, 2005
    I try not to get inside a character's head. Probably because I have no confidence in my psychological abilities. Anyway, I just portray them from the POV of another character. Probably just describe what horrible acts they committed.
    See Skywalker, Lintai and
    Lotikor.

     
  9. Kidan

    Kidan TFN EU Staff star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Actually, THAT is a perfect hook for both her fall and her redemption. She knows that what she was working for was an illusion, but she's determined to push it through regardless. That's a fundamental ends-justify-the-means POV. It can easily be used to corrupt your character as she does more and more things to fulfill her dream.



     
  10. LLL

    LLL Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 16, 2000
    "Turning to the dark side" is nothing more than a failure of compassion.

    Why do people lack compassion? Unless they are mentally ill and there's some biochemical problem, people are born with all the marbles to feel appropriate compassion for others. But a lack of what that person needs to grow and develop normally will produce a person who's wounded in some ways--there are about as many possible ways for a personality to be deformed as there are different people--and then you end up with a weakness or a blind spot that causes the person to be needy in a way that can permit cruelty to other people. The individual's neediness causes a massive override of the compassion instinct.

    My opinion (although I've done a lot of research to back it up.)

    My advice: Research your character's background.
     
  11. ardavenport

    ardavenport Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 16, 2004
     
  12. Tarsier

    Tarsier Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 31, 2005
    My suggestion, for what's it worth, is not to the force the character in a direction she doesn't want to go. If it feels forced to you, it will probably feel forced to your readers too. I would think about why you want her to go to the Dark Side and see if there is any other way to accomplish the same goal. For example, perhaps have another character fall to the Dark Side in her place, or maybe have her do something terrible on accident.

    That said, ambition is a classic precursor to corruption, so maybe you just need to push her ambition a little farther.

    When all else fails, I just write anything that comes to mind and see where it goes. I like this quote: "If you haven't surprised yourself, you haven't written." - Eudora Welty
     
  13. little_miss_jedi

    little_miss_jedi Jedi Youngling star 2

    Registered:
    Aug 6, 2005
    Somebody a little further back said that power corrupts. I completely agree.

    But, that said, I understand completely if it is impractical to elect your character Chancellor.

    If there is a...change...somehow, and this character refuses to move on...maybe? Vengeance works too.

    [face_laugh] love this!!!

    I'm really interested to see what you end up doing.
     
  14. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Here's an issue I recently dealt with:

    A reader complained that I was too drastic and too soft on a character. The character was given redemption by the Force, but condemned by the mortals. The person argued strenuously about the condemnation, but thought that a higher power believing in his redemption was unlikely. How do you fix this?
     
  15. snowspeeder_gunner

    snowspeeder_gunner Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2007

    Well, I've been doing alot of Shakespere recently (as a matter of fact, I should be reading Lear right now :p) and we've been talking about the difference between tragedy and comedy and how it seems that, sometimes, a comedy could easily be changed into a tragedy without trouble.

    How? The thing is, in all of the comedies, there is the potential for tragedy. The reason that isn't tragic is because the characters are willing to compromise. Think about all of the Shakesperean tragedies. All of the main characters fall victim to Anakin-syndrome-- their (generally faulty) reality determines their focus, not the other way around (the way Qui-Gon told us).

    Take Othello. Instead of talking to his wife about her suspected cheating, he assumes the worst (his tragic flaw was jealousy/insecurity) and kills her. And think about a comedy, like Midsummer Night's dream. If Egeus had just hauled off and killed Hermia when she didn't love the man he wanted her to, we would have a very different play.


    So, what I've been rambling on about is basically this: When you want your character to fall, use their flaw, like ambition in your case, and have this flaw mess things up for them in their life because they can't overcome it. Then when it's redeemin' time, the character can learn to compromise and overcome thier flaw.

    Hope this helps! (and that I've not misspelled more than half of this post)
     
  16. DarthIshtar

    DarthIshtar Jedi Grand Master star 9

    Registered:
    Mar 26, 2001
    That's a very good explanation for it. Thanks.
     
  17. LLL

    LLL Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 16, 2000
    What you're talking about here is not implicit in what you wrote, it's specific to the reader. That person is talking about their understanding of the Higher Power, and how your story doesn't mesh with it.

    You will never, never change someone else's understanding of God. That stuff is their business and they just have to change it when and if it ever works to do so for them.

    However, do you have to give up your understanding of it just because it doesn't work for somebody who wrote in and complained? Nahhh. Wouldn't work, anyway, because then you'd just have somebody else writing in and complaining!

    I think the most important thing is to write what you want to write, and put your own understanding on paper. Maybe it won't be the most popular thing on the planet, but if you write and live to try to please everybody else, when they are pleased they aren't really pleased with you anyway--just the face you put on for them.
     
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