Creating An Anti Hero

I’ve always been a fan of creating anti-heroes. I can relate to them. In fact, I think these type of heroes can relate with everyone who surrounds me. Meaning, we are all imperfect human beings living in an imperfect world and there’s nothing more like an anti-hero to reflect that.

The anti-hero lives in a universe with a more cynical, ambiguous moral code. He will have visible character flaws, and he will doubt himself. They will perform heroic acts, like a traditional hero, but unlike a traditional hero, who has both the physical and moral capabilities to be heroic, the anti-hero usually has neither. — The Write Practice

As a filmmaker, the beauty of creating anti-heroes in a story is the power to redeem them. Giving them that second chance in life. This is what makes storytelling so satisfying and makes us connect or relate even more.

If you dare to write about less-than-charming characters, you don’t need to always redeem them with an ending in which they see the error of their ways, mend their faults and allow their flinty hearts to be transformed into a choir loft of goodness. You see, Hollywood movies have greatly influenced audience expectations to such a degree that bad people are expected to become good, endings are expected to be tidy and hopeful, and outcomes are expected to be laced with sunshine. Fiction can, and should, mimic life, with all its messes and discomfort and disquiet. Fiction should also prove just how complicated and troubled many people are. — Jessica Page Morrell

One of my struggles in creating characters has been keeping them unlikable for too long. To the point where they become passive to change. Hence, making the viewer or reader lose interest half way through out the movie. So, I began to do a bit of research and the book Creating Unforgettable Characters by Linda Seger highlighted something interesting by Rebecca Hill:

“Sometimes, writers don’t understand the character because the part that they hate is somehow a part of them. I think if you can join with that part of yourself that feels this way, it will help you get a handle on the character. I do think there’s cruelty in all of us, stupidity, willfulness, all the character traits about yourself that you dislike, and you try to correct them in yourself and repress them, and believe that they don’t exist. When you see them in other people it makes your furious. So I think maybe a way in is to accept these parts of yourself that you hate, and even love them in some way because they’re part of you.”

Can it be that most writers love creating anti-heroes because it reflects them very selves? Can some be struggling to change those characters in writing because they haven’t embraced or resolved their imperfection. This is deep. There’s a lot of psychology and introspection in the process of character development and writing. Especially when tackling an anti-hero.

TV Tropes analysis on anti-heroism is a great read — they briefly breakdown the difference between the classical anti-hero, Disney anti-hero, pragmatic anti-hero, and unscrupulous anti-hero.

Here is the trick to creating antiheroes: They always possess an underlying pathos. Most characters come with flaws, neuroses and “issues.” But with an antihero, these problems are more noticeable and troublesome, and they sometimes get in the way of forming intimate attachments. There is always something that is screwing up the antihero’s plan, and that something is usually from his past. A story with an antihero in a starring role might depict how a person cannot easily escape from the past, particularly deep losses. — The Writer’s Digest

Time to write now.

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