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Help! My Character has No Morals

5 posts in this topic

So I have a character that I'm trying to write. 

His name is Damian, he is a immortal king, and he has the slight problem of having lost his sense of right and wrong. He lost it by experimenting with magic.

I'm finding his character a bit hard to write, and I was wondering if anyone had any advice for writing a character that doesn't have a moral guidepost. 

 

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I don't have experience with such a character... or much writing experience at all to be honest. With that in mind take everything I say with some salt. A character without morals doesn't necessarily mean a character without motivation. He's immortal and has experimented with magic, perhaps he's driven by curiosity or the pursuit of knowledge?

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Have you read Book of the New Sun? The narrator/main character has a disturbing lack of morals, he's a torturer's apprentice. He does have some, he does good, but he's as morally vacuous a hero as I've read. 

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Posted (edited)

I think the characters that are the most interesting are ones that are not necessarily immoral, but have a different world view/code. A writer that does this really well is Glen Cook. In his most famous series, The Black Company, the mercenary band is not made up of nice people (they do some horrible things), but they share a bond of brotherhood and protect their own. This bond, I believe, is a method of coping with the violence in their lives.

Joe Abercrombie is also very good writing characters that are, on the surface, not very likable. He balances this out by having the characters like Monza experience a background, where the reader knows they have been wronged, and it makes their actions more understandable. Darrow in the Red Rising books reminds me a little of Monza. Other characters in Abercrombies world just have some little quirk that draws the readers attention and makes the reader laugh.

I am not a writer, but suggest you read some Glen Cook, Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, and Pierce Brown for inspiration.

Edited by Ammanas
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Thanks for the advice. I will definitely look into some of those books. :)

I just also wanted to add that my character while he has lost his sense of morality is trying his best to be a good person. It's just that he doesn't have anything that tells him that his actions are not alright. He has to discover this in other ways, much to his dismay. He ends up relying on his memory, and the reactions of those around him. Much of his story arc is about him regaining his lost morality.

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