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francist44
02-04-2011, 06:34 PM
The question below relates to crime WIP, but it can apply to any genre.

For the most part, both of my MCs are victims of happenstance; with neither character the clear protagonist nor antagonist. I've often read such is a no, no.

My plot is strong and there's more than enough conflict between them to keep the reader's interest. Depending on one's disposition, background etc, the reader will relate and root for or the other.

Must I make one the bad guy to entice an agent or publisher? Life is seldom simply black/white issues, why must it be in writing if the story is still compelling.

lizbeth dylan
02-04-2011, 06:44 PM
I'm interested to see what comments you'll get.

My current WIP is a similar situation, there will be tension between the two MC's but when I debated which would be the antagonist, I drew a blank. I feel like the actual "antagonist" will be the times and morals of the day vs their situation and how they overcome them.

I plan to show that with other characters views about the MC's relationship as well as a 'bad guy'...his beliefs are firmly rooted in the ideals of the day.

KyraDune
02-04-2011, 06:55 PM
I don't think there has to be a clear cut good guy vs bad guy. Maybe it depends on the genre, I don't know, I'm not very familiar with crime novels. But, when it comes to writing I always say write the story the way it feels right to you and try not to worry so much.

Plot Device
02-04-2011, 07:26 PM
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081900/ (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081900/)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada_(miniseries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masada_(miniseries))




Masada was an American television miniseries that aired on ABC in April 1981. Advertised by the network as an "ABC Novel for Television," it was a fictionalized account of the historical siege of the Masada citadel in Israel by legions of the Roman Empire in AD 73. The TV series' script is based on the novel The Antagonists by Ernest Gann. The siege ended when the Roman armies were able to enter the fortress, only to discover the mass suicide by the Jewish defenders when defeat became imminent.



I never read the book, only saw the miniseries. But the viewer of the miniseries was presented with both the Roman side of the story and the Jewish side. The whole sad affair of war is nothing to root for. But we did see the struggle of that Roman officer (Peter O'Toole) and we felt for him and even somehow rooted for him. Meanwhile, we also saw the struggle of that Jewish leader (Peter Strauss) and we rooted for him even though we sadly knew that in the end he would fail.

That mini-series was very eye-opening for me (I was 14 years old) because I had never before seen the lines blurred between good guy and bad guy where we actualy somehow had a choice between who we would be allowed to root for. And when I found out the title of the book upon which the miniseries was based --The Antagonists-- that gave me a new appreciation for the concept of the very word "antagonist" as I was already embarking upon my own fledgling eforts at being a writer.

I want to say that I believe part of what made this story work was that war sucks and is nothing to root for. Thus the the humanity of the players became our only sane focus. Also, the clear underdog in all this was the band Jewish resisters who sealed themselves into the stronghold of Masada. The number of months (I think it was almost a full year that the Jewish resisters were able to thwart the Romans by holing up in the stronghold of Massada) they thumbed theire noses at the Romans was an aembrassment to the Empire. The amount of money and manpower (a lot of Roman soldiers died) that Rome spent on trying to re-capture Masada was also a embarassment. For the Jewish resisters to cause that much headache for Rome was a monumental victory to all undergdogs everywhere. And their final victory over Rome was the mass suicide, a truly troubling decision which I believe was the corrct one, and which sets the whole tale apart from so many others down through history. The fact that the tale is true (well, the historical siege is true) also sets it apart. All of these unique factors I have just delineated make the story of Masada a unique story, and if you hope to write a story in which no one character is the true antag or protag, be careful of where you tread. I do not believe it is an oft-traveled path, and the sucessful attempts are perhaps quite rare.

seun
02-04-2011, 07:27 PM
Fiction is often more interesting when a character is neither the good guy or the bad guy but a bit of both.

kaitie
02-04-2011, 07:42 PM
I'd find it cool, personally. I'm always fascinated by things like this.

gothicangel
02-04-2011, 07:47 PM
The question below relates to crime WIP, but it can apply to any genre.

For the most part, both of my MCs are victims of happenstance; with neither character the clear protagonist nor antagonist. I've often read such is a no, no.

My plot is strong and there's more than enough conflict between them to keep the reader's interest. Depending on one's disposition, background etc, the reader will relate and root for or the other.

Must I make one the bad guy to entice an agent or publisher? Life is seldom simply black/white issues, why must it be in writing if the story is still compelling.

I think you would struggle in crime fiction in doing this. There has to be a strong antagonistic force at work, a puzzle to solve. Accidents don't happen, every action has a strong motivation behind it.

Your antagonist can believe what he is doing is right, is justice. Your antagonist can have a past of making bad decisions for bad reasons. But victims of circumstance? I'm not convinced.

amyashley
02-04-2011, 08:12 PM
I don't know whether this would do well in crime fic, but mainstream I think it would be just fine. I find the whole topic intriguing, because I'm working on a book with a clear antagonist. I have a clear MC, and there is a very clear morally bad character, but she isn't exactly against the MC. Added to which, she's quite fascinating to read.

I think it makes for a more interesting book.

Histry Nerd
02-04-2011, 08:15 PM
I don't think you have to have a clear distinction between your good guy and your bad guy. I do think you have to have a clear distinction between your protagonist and your antagonist. Sometimes, that distinction might be nothing more than frame of reference--lots of gangster stories like The Godfather, Scarface, and Goodfellas really don't have a good guy, but we are expected to sympathize with the characters through whose point of view the story is told.

Occasionally, the protagonist might actually be the bad guy in the story. I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I know they're out there.

But I think most of these examples have a clear division between the protagonist and the antagonist. Without that, I think you may have trouble.

Of course, the rules don't matter if you can pull it off and sell it. Personally, I don't think I would be attracted to a story like this--but I'm probably not part of your target audience.

Hope it helps!
HN

ladyleeona
02-04-2011, 08:23 PM
I think that so long as the plot is compelling and well written, it can work. Like you said--life is rarely black and white.

IMO, it's mainly shades of gray.

francist44
02-04-2011, 10:29 PM
Thanks people. Let me be a little more specific, briefly: In the first two pages my two MCs find themselves thrown into a situation that neither intended. The result of which leaves one MC crippled for life and his wife dead, while the other MC and more importantly to him, his younger brother's hopes and plans for the future are shattered. The brothers end up in jail. Both MCs seek revenge.

I'm not sure if the above helps with the question?

Plot Device
02-04-2011, 11:47 PM
Thanks people. Let me be a little more specific, briefly: In the first two pages my two MCs find themselves thrown into a situation that neither intended. The result of which leaves one MC crippled for life and his wife dead, while the other MC and more importantly to him, his younger brother's hopes and plans for the future are shattered. The brothers end up in jail. Both MCs seek revenge.

I'm not sure if the above helps with the question?


Changing Lanes starring Ben Afleck and Samuel L. Jackson.