I was wondering how you guys would handle having a main character in a story that by modern day and modern judeo-christian standards is a war criminal, murder, rapist, racist, pagan, and morally bankrupt. By the standards of his world he is a war hero, an example for all men trying to raise their status in this world, self-less when it comes to the men under his command, is as about as racist as anyone else,is fairly religious, and while he isn't a saint he definitely isn't morally bankrupt.
I've only done one short story with him in it and gave it to some friends to read. It was about a 50/50 split between those who thought they main character was the epitome of evil/completely unlikeable and those who thought he was pretty interesting with 2 friends who returned it and said they couldn't really grasp what was going on.
I want to make the character a little more likeable but don't want to really change what defines the base morality/customs/practices of the world he is a part of. When I get the story off my 386 (an atari ABC...its what I'm most comfortable writing on...) and onto my laptop I will post it. Until they I kinda want to know what you guys would do.
> It was about a 50/50 split between those who thought they main character was the epitome of evil/completely unlikeable and those who thought he was pretty interesting with 2 friends who returned it and said they couldn't really grasp what was going on.
Congratulations, you made it in the literature world.
I already applauded but you probably couldn't hear it.
I think this is where subtly comes in. Are you beating the reader over the head with the bad things your character does? How much are you focusing on them? Are you presenting things from the guy's POV and trying to present his reasons for doing such deeds?
Personally I'd wouldn't focus on the questionable deeds (rape, etc) too much, just reference them a bit and let the reader fill in the blanks. As for the personal aspect of the main character, bring them up only in appropriate situations, and not let them define him (like he might make a derogatory comment about colored people here and there, but he's actually pretty liberal, i.e. he doesn't really care about anybody's skin color when the chips are down).
Basically, the feeling you want to convey to the reader is "You might not like the things this guy does, but compared to other people, he's pretty moderate"
I suggest you take out the whole "rapist" thing, since that is a huuuge moral gamebreaker for most readers. It's a thing that pretty much everyone says has no excuse, no matter how much this guy has reformed or the good qualities he has.
I am shocked and appalled.
Depends on what you're doing with him. Will you glorify him and his moral standards? That might get you the wrong fans. Unless you really think he's a pretty cool guy.
So I'm working on a simple character design and premise for a low-thinky project that's just an excuse to draw violence and adventure.
It occurs to me that as a violent action piece, the main character in my head turns out to be a completely bitter asshole, even if on his Cu Culhain style warpaths he Tazmanian Devils things in a "good" direction.
Is it possible to be a murderous, rat bastard and still be technically "neutral good?" Is it possible that despite the terrible, evil methods employed, the character can still be considered "good" if by circumstance, the end result of all their brakeless warpaths is always somehow beneficial to community, society and culture as a whole?
It's just an exercise project for art. The writing is next to non existent in complexity or thought, but when thinking about how the character, their actions and the outcome might be perceived, how such a monster would reverberate with people.
Evil for a good cause is a difficult subject. depending on the excact circumstances and the views of the reader he might come of as anything between anti hero and sympathetic villain.
Also, using the D'n'D alignment methapore, "evil for the sake of good" would be more on the chaotic side of things.