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Creating Shades of Gray In Characters

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Old 08-31-2018, 10:15 PM
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Default Creating Shades of Gray In Characters


Personally, I've always been a traditionalist. To me, the protagonist of the story is supposed to be the "good guy/gal" and the antagonist the villain. In many past stories I've written, the protagonists were portrayed as overall good people who could be considered good role models, and the antagonists as the villains. You wanted the heroes to win and the villains to get their comeuppance. I've seen cartoons, shows, movies, and games with heroes and villains who followed these standards.

Personally, I find it much easier for me to create protagonists lacking in the truly nasty vices and traits such as arrogance, narcissism, sadism, vanity, mean-spirited, greedy, selfish, etc, and save those for the villains.

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Old 09-01-2018, 11:52 AM
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Yeah, but I think the appetite for more gray-scale characters has grown since the invention of “Breaking Bad,” and “Sopranos,” where the MC’s are bad people with realistic motivations.

There are classic examples—Lolita by Nabokov is one, and the shithead characters like Chinaski, and Raoul Duke, are others—so they’ve always been around, it’s just that the hero’s journey is the simplest and most popular form to follow.
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Old 09-01-2018, 02:20 PM
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Shades of grey in a character and a Byronic hero are two different things. Even in Fairie Queen by Spenser the hero had shades of grey. They can be merely weaknesses, as shown by the allegory.

Forgive me if I am daft, but I cannot think of one story, otger than obvious satires, that has a character that does not have some shades of grey. Or should I say successful story
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Old 09-01-2018, 04:25 PM
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Perhaps switch your focus from the characters to the situations. Create problems and scenarios where the options given the characters have no clear or clean choice... Does your hero save their family from the burning building or the ten infants in the next room. Force your characters to make tough decisions and have to live through the consequences.
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Old 09-01-2018, 05:12 PM
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Hey KS, your link dont work no more
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Old 09-03-2018, 12:05 PM
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Examples of characters without shades of grey; unfortunately it appears to be many mainstream female characters these days who must fulfil a "perfection" criteria (in terms of character, rather than looks) and as such they have no flaws and are correspondingly tedious.

Shades of gray comes from identifying flaws and allowing your character to develop and overcome internal and external obstacles... please let us return to that place.
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Old 09-03-2018, 05:58 PM
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I tried googling how to create shades of grey characters, but all I'm getting are characters in the Shades of Grey trilogy. So I'm forced to use this thread.
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Old 09-04-2018, 07:07 AM
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Read any of the exchanges between the users here, writers cafe is a good start. You'll see plenty of grey.
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Old 09-05-2018, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by DwayneA View Post
I tried googling how to create shades of grey characters
I believe that’s how Shakespeare got started.
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Old 09-06-2018, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by DwayneA View Post
Personally, I've always been a traditionalist. To me, the protagonist of the story is supposed to be the "good guy/gal" and the antagonist the villain. In many past stories I've written, the protagonists were portrayed as overall good people who could be considered good role models, and the antagonists as the villains. You wanted the heroes to win and the villains to get their comeuppance. I've seen cartoons, shows, movies, and games with heroes and villains who followed these standards.

Personally, I find it much easier for me to create protagonists lacking in the truly nasty vices and traits such as arrogance, narcissism, sadism, vanity, mean-spirited, greedy, selfish, etc, and save those for the villains.
Dwayne, try googling:

Nuance: A Key to Real Life Characters ...or

How to Create Authentic and Powerful Fiction Characters

Otherwise, Chin's response is on the money.

A hero doesn't need a truly nasty vice - more an endearing flaw or flash of vulnerability. Fictional detectives are usually trying to fight a caffeine/nicotine addiction or shed extra pounds..trying to process some harrowing experience that still haunts them...that kind of thing.

Most importantly, a believable hero needs to feel fear, because we connect with that response. Conquering that fear is what makes a hero.

Good luck.
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