Author Topic: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?  (Read 2096 times)  

Offline Kal241

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Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
« on: February 28, 2017, 09:54:26 pm »
I'm honestly not a fan of the "hero" in fiction. I don't write heroes. I think it's unrealistic, even for a fictional universe, to expect a pure-hearted prince riding a white stallion with a longsword to ride in and save the day.

I'm into the concept of gray characters myself; they have good and evil sides to them, and are capable of doing good or bad things. This makes them less predictable and more interesting to me, and the fact that gray characters, unlike heroes, can lose makes them more dramatic to an audience IMO.

It seems I'm not the only one, either; the traditional hero is appearing less and less in fiction I've read. Maybe the anti-hero genre is picking back up again, or maybe readers prefer gray morality vs. back morality rather than white knights vs. black dragons?

What is your preference in this area?

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    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #1 on: February 28, 2017, 10:26:53 pm »
    I don't think good guys are unrealistic in the least. I'm married to one.

    I tend to write fairly heroic guys (and women). I know a lot of them. Nobody's perfect, but a lot of people are good. Those are the people I enjoy reading and writing about. There's a pretty good market still for that, I find.

    If I want to read about gray characters or downright rotten ones, I can read the paper. To each their own, though. 

    Offline Nic

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #2 on: February 28, 2017, 10:46:55 pm »
    I write people, and I prefer a normal guy to the hero-type. If you call that "grey", then it works for me.

    Offline 77071

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #3 on: February 28, 2017, 10:50:32 pm »
    I like good guys.  Sometimes a little messed up, who need to grow, but who are trying their best. 

    I suspect the answers aren't divided along the lines of genre.  There are lots of darker-themed romances; there are plenty of idealistic action books.

    I think it comes down to what a person actually enjoys reading and writing.  Some prefer to focus on different things in their entertainment.

    (For instance I've never understood the appeal of horror movies; I don't enjoy them at all.  But some people find it a great release of tension, or whatever, and really love watching them.  I will never understand that beyond an intellectual level.)

    Liking anti-heroes is something a person either gets or doesn't.  (Perhaps some people can go both ways, IDK.)  I'm really just not interested; I don't get it.  I want to read and write about characters who really care and actually do their best.  Some of them may be a mess, but they're always trying.

    Offline Sarah Shaw

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #4 on: February 28, 2017, 10:58:38 pm »
    Neither - or maybe both... I don't recognize the superhero category, but I do know quite a few real life heroes, including my husband, who were willing to risk jail and even, in some cases, their lives for what they believed. I don't like to read about people without any strong moral principles, so in that sense I don't like 'grey' characters, but I am very interested in real life dilemmas where it's not clear what the right thing is, who to believe or what's really going on. And I'm interested in the way good people come to terms with having inadvertently done the wrong thing. Decidedly NOT interested in people with basic character flaws as heroes unless the point of the story is the struggle to recognize and overcome the flaw. As Rosalind says, too much of that in the news already.

    Offline Gone 9/21/18

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #5 on: February 28, 2017, 11:14:48 pm »
    I don't agree with your premise that a hero has to be of the type of a "pure-hearted prince riding a white stallion with a longsword to ride in and save the day. A person [character] can be heroic in one instance and quite ordinary or less than admirable in another. Maybe you mean the unrealistic super-heroes such as Superman, Batman?

    Anyway I'm all for enough flaws in my heroes to make them realistic, but I don't want to read stories with protags who have an "evil" side.
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    Offline Douglas Milewski

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #6 on: March 01, 2017, 12:07:01 am »
    I think that the opposite is true. To me, a hero takes personal responsibility for the welfare of his community, and in that is a very interesting story. Add in the fact that the villain is never the same twice, and the hero must always be off his game and thinking on his feet. Once you have a situation, you have a dilemma. How will the hero figure out this one? That's the question that has the audience coming back every week.

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    Offline AngryGames

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #7 on: March 01, 2017, 12:07:58 am »
    For me, "good guys" are good people but they always get ground up at some point because they're maybe too good. I guess if they were D&D characters, they'd be Lawful Good to maybe Lawful Neutral. Paladin types who balk at breaking a moral belief even if the situation entails it.

    Heroes, on the other hand, aren't necessarily good guys. They're the guys who maybe are just normal joes who have to make a really ugly, hard choice and they do it without expectation of being a hero (and they tend to somewhat hate themselves for making that tough choice even though it made them a hero).

    Not a big fan of the typical hero in the sense he's Chuck Norris or a "good" Terminator reprogrammed to do hero stuff. I like heroes who don't want to be heroes, who chafe under such praise, but even though they hate what they did that was necessary, they'd do it again without question because it needed to be done.

    I do enjoy and appreciate that every author has a different definition of both "good guy" and "hero." I like that some writers make villains into heroes where you absolutely don't want to like them but you do because of (insert reasons here). I like that some good guys have to do some really bad guy things just to either remain good guys or re-become (heh) good guys again. I even like typical good guy heroes who have a fatal flaw that makes them not good guys nor heroes anymore (I like darker fiction, so there's that).
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    Offline HarryK

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #8 on: March 01, 2017, 12:18:52 am »
    I like a variety. I really can't say that I only like one or the other. While I USUALLY find "flawed" characters more interesting, sometimes I just want to read about a full on, unambiguously heroic type that is a shining example of goodness. I've always liked both Batman and Superman, for example.

    Shades of gray, while it can be interesting, after awhile can get kind of old for me.

    Offline ShaneJeffery

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #9 on: March 01, 2017, 12:40:50 am »
    Depends on the genre. Depends on your audience.

    You will need to work out whether the story requires a hero / heroine before you begin.

    If reality is messing with your ability to breathe life into what is required for your characters, then that is something you have to work on.

    Writing a morally grey character is no different to writing a hero or villain.

    Whatever is the part that needs to be played, you must adapt and use your talent and skill to portray it convincingly.

    An artist who refuses to paint with one color is not only refusing it, but every shade it has to offer.

    Offline AltMe

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #10 on: March 01, 2017, 02:18:02 am »
    Heroes, on the other hand, aren't necessarily good guys. They're the guys who maybe are just normal joes who have to make a really ugly, hard choice and they do it without expectation of being a hero (and they tend to somewhat hate themselves for making that tough choice even though it made them a hero).

    Not a big fan of the typical hero in the sense he's Chuck Norris or a "good" Terminator reprogrammed to do hero stuff. I like heroes who don't want to be heroes, who chafe under such praise, but even though they hate what they did that was necessary, they'd do it again without question because it needed to be done.

    I do enjoy and appreciate that every author has a different definition of both "good guy" and "hero." I like that some writers make villains into heroes where you absolutely don't want to like them but you do because of (insert reasons here). I like that some good guys have to do some really bad guy things just to either remain good guys or re-become (heh) good guys again. I even like typical good guy heroes who have a fatal flaw that makes them not good guys nor heroes anymore (I like darker fiction, so there's that).

    I cant think of anything worse than a story about a "good guy". Nor do I like the hero who always gets it right.

    This is my idea of a hero.

    Quote
    "Its the same ship and captain as last time. Exact same problem. Ship had an engine failure too close to the sun. This time it didnt even have a repair droid on board. The Hubble array picked up its failure to change course, but once again, system emergency services weren't on the alert. They used the Hubble to find the nearest ship capable of doing a rescue attempt, and it's us. Just as well they moved it a long time ago, or it wouldnt have seen us with the sun in the way from Earth orbit."
    "I dont do bloody rescue's," I yelled at the cosmos in general.
    "Yes, you do!" yelled everyone else at me, followed by general laughter.
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    "Tactical," I barked.
    The HUD zoomed in to show the sun, the ship, and us. The sun was between us and the ship. In order to intercept the ship in time, we would need to pass through the Corona first. We wouldnt need to do more than minor course changes to intercept the ship after we came out. But it was going to be seriously close. Much closer than last time.
    "Where's my shields?" I demanded.
    "Just one damned minute Admiral!" said Jane in a gravelly male voice.
    We sat there. The sun was getting bigger and bigger, and the screen was darkening rapidly to compensate.
    "I'm sorry Master for taking so long, but you have your shields."
    This time the voice was an obsequious male.
    "How far do we need to go in?" asked Annabelle.
    "Deeper than into the France sun," answered Jane in her normal voice. "But it's not as hot. We should be fine."
    "Let not jinx it," I said.
    "Ka-Plaa!" said Grace quietly from the helm seat.

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    Offline Not any more

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #11 on: March 01, 2017, 04:15:54 am »
    The MC in my current series has been called an anti-hero. Assassin, thief, Robin Hood. She lives in tough times. The MC in my last series was a hero type and reviewers saw her as a Mary Sue. Ok, she was a Mary Sue. Sold more of the anti-hero in 3 months than the hero in 3 years.
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    Offline Misty Archer

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #12 on: March 01, 2017, 05:55:24 am »
    I quite like the idea of characters who are doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #13 on: March 01, 2017, 06:18:32 am »
    I see "good guys" and "heroes" to be two different animals.  The hero described in the OP is more the stereotypical hero, the type from central casting whose teeth gleam when he smiles.  I agree that such characters are boring and unrealistic.

    But "good guys" are a little different.  In general I think a good guy is just a regular guy who tries to do good  He obeys the law, helps little old ladies across the street, swears when he hits his thumb with a hammer, enjoys having an occasional beer with the guys, etc.  He'll do what he has to do to protect his family, but he's not a 'hero' and doesn't volunteer to save the town singlehandedly.

    Good guys can be grey characters as well.  Just because the Average Joe has never robbed a bank or punched someone out doesn't mean he's incapable of it, just that he's never had to.  A good guy can cross the line easily enough under the right (or wrong) circumstances.
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    Offline dianapersaud

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #14 on: March 01, 2017, 06:32:48 am »
    I'm honestly not a fan of the "hero" in fiction. I don't write heroes. I think it's unrealistic, even for a fictional universe, to expect a pure-hearted prince riding a white stallion with a longsword to ride in and save the day.

    I'm into the concept of gray characters myself; they have good and evil sides to them, and are capable of doing good or bad things. This makes them less predictable and more interesting to me, and the fact that gray characters, unlike heroes, can lose makes them more dramatic to an audience IMO.

    It seems I'm not the only one, either; the traditional hero is appearing less and less in fiction I've read. Maybe the anti-hero genre is picking back up again, or maybe readers prefer gray morality vs. back morality rather than white knights vs. black dragons?

    What is your preference in this area?

    Maybe you should stop reading fairy tales for children?
    I hope you'll forgive the snark.

    Seriously, where did you come up with your definition of a "hero"? Except for Snow White's Prince Charming, I don't know of any other hero that fits your narrow definition. And he's not really a hero, since the story is really about Snow White. Prince charming is just a minor character.

    I'm an avid reader of many genres. All of the heroes are flawed. But they have morals. They do the right thing in the end.

    To answer your question, my heroes are loosely based on my husband. He's a "Good Guy" with his own flaws, as are my characters. And as I mentioned above, the books I read for pleasure also contain flawed heroes.


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    Offline Anarchist

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #15 on: March 01, 2017, 06:36:08 am »
    My favorite type of protagonist is the deeply-flawed guy who does good things, almost against his nature, driven by demons in his past - like he's seeking redemption.

    Example: William Munny from Unforgiven


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    Offline Kal241

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #16 on: March 01, 2017, 07:59:42 am »
    Maybe you should stop reading fairy tales for children?
    I hope you'll forgive the snark.

    Seriously, where did you come up with your definition of a "hero"?

    Prince Charming, Superman, Fox McCloud, Mario, and pretty much anyone who serves as a "poster boy" for truth, justice, and all that stuff. True, there aren't a lot of those types nowadays, but there was a time when they dominated fiction. And they still prove popular enough today, since DC and Marvel still sell, Starfox and Mario still sell, etc. Your snark will not hold up because the hero concept is prevalent in far more media than fairy-tales.

    "There ain't people like that. There's just people like me." -Jayne Cobb, Firefly.

    I know quite a few soldiers, one of which I'm related to. Other people call them heroes, but they only see themselves as doing their job. Would they be ok with being called a hero? Some of them, but not a lot of them, because there's nothing heroic about killing, and they tell me that "hero" types tend to get other people killed. Hence the saying, "Never share a foxhole with a hero."

    I don't think good guys are unrealistic in the least. I'm married to one.

    You seem to think heroes and good guys equate to one another. I do not. The point I'm making is that good guys are gray characters whereas heroes are in the white morality spectrum. Example: Superman is a hero. The police are good guys. Superman is the all-powerful incorruptible will of good; the police are just doing their job, and may or may not be good or evil depending on the day and situation. That's a big distinction
    « Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 08:23:44 am by Kal241 »

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    Offline dianapersaud

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #17 on: March 01, 2017, 08:38:02 am »
    Prince Charming, Superman, Fox McCloud, Mario, and pretty much anyone who serves as a "poster boy" for truth, justice, and all that stuff. True, there aren't a lot of those types nowadays, but there was a time when they dominated fiction. And they still prove popular enough today, since DC and Marvel still sell, Starfox and Mario still sell, etc. Your snark will not hold up because the hero concept is prevalent in far more media than fairy-tales.

    "There ain't people like that. There's just people like me." -Jayne Cobb, Firefly.

    I know quite a few soldiers, one of which I'm related to. Other people call them heroes, but they only see themselves as doing their job. Would they be ok with being called a hero? Some of them, but not a lot of them, because there's nothing heroic about killing, and they tell me that "hero" types tend to get other people killed. Hence the saying, "Never share a foxhole with a hero."

    You seem to think heroes and good guys equate to one another. I do not. The point I'm making is that good guys are gray characters whereas heroes are in the white morality spectrum. Example: Superman is a hero. The police are good guys. Superman is the all-powerful incorruptible will of good; the police are just doing their job, and may or may not be good or evil depending on the day and situation. That's a big distinction

    My BILs are military, different branches.

    The one that was a Green Beret served his country well. In fact, he saved another soldier's life. Earned a medal. By definition he was a hero. Did he do heroic things ALL the time? Nope.

    No one lives in the "white morality spectrum" 24/7. Even in the original superman, didn't he waver at one point--wanted to give up his powers and be a normal man and not have the responsibility that comes with being a super hero? If so, he was flawed, just like a real person.

    ETA:
    I think we're working on DIFFERENT definitions of a hero.
    There are heroic acts that a [real] person does-that makes them a hero. (Ex saving someone's life)

    Hero in literature has a different meaning. It's the protagonist that changes over the course of a story. As I mentioned above, I don't recall reading any hero/protags that weren't flawed.
    « Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 08:41:47 am by dianapersaud »

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    Offline Douglas Milewski

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #18 on: March 01, 2017, 08:56:16 am »
    I rather enjoyed the take on Optimus Primal in Beast Wars. He was the shining good guy, but the rest of his crew weren't so noble (being rather a handful to deal with), and the enemy wasn't stupid. Yet, this goody-two-shoes-ness of the character gave him a chewy moral center, one that hesitated to move, but when it moved, it moved. (If you've never seen what a good set of writers can do, watch "Beast Wars." Keep going until you hit Season 2, when they writers blow the rails and the series goes from "just OK" to "Holy-Motha-a-Gawd!" The Season 2 finale remains one of my favorite over-the-top SF cliffhangers ever produced. Oh, and that Megatron, can he give a speech or what? I mean, really.)

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    Offline Jonathan C. Gillespie

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #19 on: March 01, 2017, 09:13:11 am »
    The most interesting characters are those who strive against who they are most comfortable being, and those are the kinds of people who populate my stories. I think there's a human tendency to find a comfort zone and an outlook on the world and stew within it, and when something forces that apple cart upside down, I call that plot-worthy.

    My personal favorites are thus the anti-heroes and misfits; sometimes even the latent sociopaths who almost blunder into doing good. But "heroes" can be just as compelling, provided they are fighting against the temptation to compromise their values.


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    Offline J. Tanner

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #20 on: March 01, 2017, 09:42:43 am »
    You seem to think heroes and good guys equate to one another. I do not. The point I'm making is that good guys are gray characters whereas heroes are in the white morality spectrum. Example: Superman is a hero. The police are good guys. Superman is the all-powerful incorruptible will of good; the police are just doing their job, and may or may not be good or evil depending on the day and situation. That's a big distinction

    You've sort of painted yourself into a corner in your definition of a hero. Superman is so far off to one end of the morality bell curve that pretty much no other modern character comes close. And even there, if you read some superman stories rather than just thinking about his central conceit as pop-culture defines it you'll find that writers are constantly testing his morality because it's so difficult to test his physical strength after decades of power creep. Even the recent movies, though rather awful, are more about Superman's refusal to be a hero than an embrace of white-knight morality.

    (That said, I'm not a big fan of Supes, or the gods among men archtypes that often characterize DC comics pantheon. I prefer the Marvel style that grounds the heroes a bit more. Spider-man is still really selfless, really heroic when necessary, but he's also terribly flawed.)

    The Game of Thrones TV show (haven't read the books) I think draws a more interesting distinction than you're drawing with "hero" and "good guy". I'd never call Jaimie Lannister a "good guy" but he is capable of doing absolutely horrible things in addition to loving gestures. He's so achingly sympathetic at times you want to forget the things he's done, but you just can't. This is true of all the Lannister siblings with the scale sliding from Tyrion, through Jaimie to Cerse. And this moral ambiguity permeates the character work in general.
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    Offline Usedtoposthere

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #21 on: March 01, 2017, 09:47:00 am »
    My heroes (that's what the male lead is called in a romance) come in various shades of flawed. If I asked readers, they'd say they'd rather read a flawed hero. In actuality, though, by far their favorites of my heroes are the less flawed ones, the stand-up, kind, patient, steady men. They may get angry at times, but they never cross the line of a fair fight (as a decent man doesn't) by saying cruel things. They're real people, they're just DECENT real people, and unusually emotionally strong ones with a solid moral center.

    I still sometimes write guys who are struggling to be their best person, to rise to the challenges life throws at them, but they're always fundamentally decent (and nope, readers overall don't love them as much). I don't like antiheroes in books or movies, and I detest so-called "dark romance." But some people like all that. I don't really think decent people are "shades of gray" or capable of doing horrible things. That's how you know you're a decent person--when you're put to the test and you do the honorable or the horrible thing. Preferring fundamentally weak people (well, that's how I'd describe them) seems odd to me, but I don't have to read those books or go to those movies, so whatever.
    « Last Edit: March 01, 2017, 09:49:36 am by Rosalind J »

    Offline dgrant

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #22 on: March 01, 2017, 01:03:57 pm »
    For my own heroes, I desire not perfection but greatness. And sometimes the darkness, and the flaws, and the past, are the soil from which that greatness can grow and flower. I like a hero with unflinching principles, a solid moral center, who's willing to face down the whole world and say "Here I stand. You move."

    Which explains why, when I finally found the man I married, it didn't take long at all to realize I'd found the perfect man for me. He's a bit battered, scarred, and rough around the edges, but he has enough spine to stand up to me at me at my worst, and a large enough heart to love me anyway, always and forever.

    Must be why I like Rosalind's heroes; they're good men, for all their rough edges and flaws, who will choose the right thing when push comes to shove.


    Offline J. Tanner

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #23 on: March 01, 2017, 01:29:47 pm »
    I don't like antiheroes in books or movies, and I detest so-called "dark romance." But some people like all that. I don't really think decent people are "shades of gray" or capable of doing horrible things. That's how you know you're a decent person--when you're put to the test and you do the honorable or the horrible thing. Preferring fundamentally weak people (well, that's how I'd describe them) seems odd to me, but I don't have to read those books or go to those movies, so whatever.

    Not judging, but I'm interested in examples of what works for you that's achieved any sort of notoriety outside of stuff primarily intended for a family audience like (admittedly fantastic) Pixar. When I think of all the "best" TV and movies for me, I doubt you would be interested in any of them. (Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Stranger Things as TV examples. Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Wolf Of Wall Street are recent film examples of antihero tendencies that run back to Pulp Fiction and Goodfellas for me.)
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    Online Jena H

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    Re: Good guys vs. Heroes: Which one is for you?
    « Reply #24 on: March 01, 2017, 01:38:31 pm »

    I still sometimes write guys who are struggling to be their best person, to rise to the challenges life throws at them, but they're always fundamentally decent (and nope, readers overall don't love them as much). I don't like antiheroes in books or movies, and I detest so-called "dark romance." But some people like all that. I don't really think decent people are "shades of gray" or capable of doing horrible things. That's how you know you're a decent person--when you're put to the test and you do the honorable or the horrible thing. Preferring fundamentally weak people (well, that's how I'd describe them) seems odd to me, but I don't have to read those books or go to those movies, so whatever.

    Everyone is capable of being dark.  HOW dark, and under what circumstances....  all vary from person to person.  I'm not necessarily talking about really extreme actions--hurting or killing someone*--but when it comes to stealing or violence, I think a lot of 'normal' people you see at the store or a PTA meeting could find themselves there under the right circumstances.




    *caveat:  I think I speak for a lot of parents when I say, "you mess with my kid...." 
    Jena

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