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How to Write a Completely Stealthy Character:

 1 d Roy, Sun, 1st May '11 12:15:53 AM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
An idea just popped in my head. There's this vigilante and he hunts down criminals in complete stealth that the authority and the criminals only know that he exists. Only guess they have is that he's very proficient in martial arts and stealth, and presumably a male. I'm thinking this idea as movie, and whenever he appears on screen, the audiences never get to see him, just in his perspective. They just call him The Silence.

The question is, would he be an effective crime deterrent? Also would the citizens and the authority be unsettled by someone like him existing? I want to write a scene where a mother of a misbehaving child tells him that if he do not behave, The Silence will get him, scaring him to death and stop misbehaving.

My teacher's a panda
I am not sure how efficient of a deterrent the guy would be. Criminals tend to only get smarter when an obstacle is placed in their way. Any time a new security measure is placed, they invent something to get around it. If a new law is placed, they figure out ways to get around that. They are incredibly resourceful and very cocky. They will only try to develop new ways to combat the vigilante. They would figure that if this man can develop ways to become that stealthy, they can come up with ways to become even more stealthy. They will employ new weapons and techniques. They will not give up without a fight.

I'm not even sure if it will deter petty criminals, figuring that they are too petty to gain this man's attention. Also, their needs may be more pressing to them than any threat of being caught.

Also, the authorities aren't going to react well at all. Authorities don't typically react to vigilantism with glee. Vigilantes are considered as much criminals as the criminals they catch. Particularly one with as much skills as this character would be seen as a threat. They might enjoy having a person out there catching criminals for them, but they will not like that they cannot control him. They have no idea who this person is or whether they can be trusted. After all, if they were trustworthy people, wouldn't they do things the proper way and become cops?

Overall, I have a feeling this character will be feared and hated by nearly everyone. A person who doesn't show his face and only hides in the shadows cannot be trusted. And I would be very disturbed if a mother actually attempted to threaten her child with such a real life horror story. It's one thing to make up a boogie man to scare their children into behaving, but to use a real life figure whom everybody has a right to fear just seems wrong. I have a feeling that in this setting, everybody, adults and children, will be terrified of this figure, fearing that he'd be watching their every move, and may just decide to strike at any moment for the pettiest of actions.

I could imagine this story being some sort of horror/monster story in the guise of a super hero film. Having the Silencer playing the role of the monster that nobody knows anything about and has no reason to trust. It could be an interesting twist to the superhero genre in which vigilantism is usually celebrated.

[up] No, not really. At all.

Vigilantes do end up on the wrong side of the law but they can be effective. The goal would be to remain mission-minded. Don't be out unless you have to. Always have an objective. Use methods that inflict the most harm on your targets.

A good example of a vigilante character is from Tom Clancy's Without Remorse. You might check that out for a general feel of how vigilantes might work.

edited 1st May '11 12:53:39 AM by TheProffesor

 4 d Roy, Sun, 1st May '11 1:03:45 AM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
[up][up] FYI, the Silencer (thank you, I like that title better) doesn't use technology at all. He's just that stealthy. Hmm, using a Real Life figure to terrify a children is wrong? I didn't know that, not being familiar with Boogeyman thing. In Korea, mothers usually say "If you don't cry, you will be taken by a tiger!" but I loved those animals when I was a kid and fully knew that they are more or less extinct in natural state in South Korea, so it didn't really scary me and really, Korea don't use this boogeyman thing that much anyway. There's always corporal punishments.

I was actually thinking of Keyser Soze from The Usual Supspects. Verbal Keaton says that criminals' wives his home used to say "Rat on your pop and Keyser Soze will get you." Guess it's something of a Dude, Not Funny! in Real Life?

Other than that, thank you for very detailed elaboration. [up][up] too.

Well uh, families whose breadwinner is involved in crime tend to be different from ordinary families who do no such thing, mmm?

I don't feel that he would be effective. He's one guy and it's a city of at least 1 million people, he can't be everywhere at once. And now that you say he doesn't use technology and just relies on martial arts, I think some of the wealthier, better-equipped criminals would definitely be able to take him on, stealth or no stealth.

edited 1st May '11 11:09:03 AM by melloncollie

See ALL the stars!
For some reason, all I can think of With cat-like tread, upon our pray we steal...! tongue

[up] People aren't that good at risk assessment, generally. Selection bias will rule in his favour

edited 1st May '11 11:32:47 AM by Yej

Da Rules excuse all the inaccuracy in the world. Listen to them, not me.
[up][up]

That's why you would have to hit big targets. You don't have time to stop petty thieves. You need to do something that will really shake things up. Start killing drug dealers and impacting mafia shipments.

You can only be effective as one person if you hit the big targets.

Really, as long as you're careful you wouldn't have much of a problem.

edited 1st May '11 12:18:51 PM by TheProffesor

 8 Chubert, Sun, 1st May '11 1:07:46 PM from California
highly secure
Taking down a drug ring? Single-handedly?

good luck
Whatcha gonna do, little buckaroo? | i be pimpin' madoka fics
 9 d Roy, Mon, 2nd May '11 12:06:07 AM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
I should probably do the research on criminal worlds a bit more. In my current draft, the starts off with the Silencer executing a pedophile/pimp/drug dealer (you know, kind of like that guy from Taxi Driver. Plus drug dealing, of course).

As of now, I don't think I will give any detail about him, except that he's a vigilante and never, EVER harms an innocent. I should probably give him a Pet the Dog moment or two. Hey, does anyone what is the some of the most organized criminals and their deeds?

[up][up]

You do it the same way the North Vietnimese defeated the American in Vietnam: Indirect attacks and aiming for high value targets.

 11 Chubert, Mon, 2nd May '11 8:09:31 AM from California
highly secure
The Viet Cong were more than one man. In fact, they were actually a couple hundred thousand men.
Whatcha gonna do, little buckaroo? | i be pimpin' madoka fics
[up]All proportional.

You don't need thousands of men when you can complete the objective with one. You don't have to take out the entire drug operation. You just have to cut it off.

It's like stopping the water in a faucet. You don't have to rip the entire kitchen sink out. You just have to block the pipe.

If you can complete your objective without firing a single shot you have been more effective than someone who has killed 1, 000 enemies.

edited 2nd May '11 4:28:11 PM by TheProffesor

 13 Chubert, Mon, 2nd May '11 7:18:17 PM from California
highly secure
Let's just use historical precedent.

There have been plenty of vigilantes. Can you name any who managed to accomplish any significant reductions in crime single-handedly?

I might be wrong but I'm pretty sure the answer is "no."
Whatcha gonna do, little buckaroo? | i be pimpin' madoka fics
Semi-threadhop. I skimmed through the posts, so if I missed something, I apologize in advance. Here are a few questions I'm going to throw at the OP to help out a bit.

1. What martial art or combat system does this character study? Some martial arts require extensive brute force while others insist upon gentle maneuvers that make use of precise timing and controlled breathing.

2. Remember that sometimes being stealthy means being very direct in both physical and interpersonal matters. Your character can still be very surreptitious while still engaging his enemies through explicit force, or he can use objects, light and sound discipline, and psychological countermeasures to evade his enemies all together. In other words, do you want your character to be the kind of person who uses his tactical expertise to incapacitate his foes, or does he focus more on being invisible and not leaving traces of his presence? The type of stealth tactics your character uses will have an impact on their personality and mannerisms.

3. I'm not buying the "no technology" approach. Give the character electronic devices, knowledge of information security, industrial espionage, or just make his lack of technological expertise more plausible. I don't mean to sound unfair, but it's not enough for me as a reader for your character to simply not have proper equipment or the wealth to procure such equipment.

4. What does your character wear? His clothing will provide the reader with further indications of his personal life as well as clues as to how he acquired his skills. Does he prefer leather jackets? What kind of shoes does he wear? Are they steel-toed SWAT boots, tractionless moccasins, or spit-toe tabi shoes? Does he have tattooes indicating prior experience with a criminal organization or maybe a military special operations group? You can follow the "show, don't tell" rule and give readers subtle hints about his training through insignias, jewelry or obscure clothing.

5. What is the physicality of your character? Is he large and powerful? Flexible? How are his senses? Does he have any ailments that might hinder other abilities from time to time like a heart condition or daytime blindness that requires him to operate at night?

I don't mean to hijack your character ideas, but I'm writing my own story with covert-oriented individuals, and it's refreshing to see someone take a stab at it. I've studied martial arts and tracking long enough to come up with detailed character layouts that might work depending on the setting and plot. If you haven't already, make a fairly long biography for your character that explains his history, family life and education. Again, this is my bias, but I love characters that have a rich and intriguing history.

By the way, if he never harms innocent people, have him develop a code or honor system he uses to define an innocent person since the the concept of innocence is a highly complex subject. You could make this one of the major themes of your story if you find it interesting enough.

edited 2nd May '11 9:32:31 PM by Aprilla

 15 d Roy, Tue, 3rd May '11 2:48:00 AM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
[up]First of all, THANK YOU for such detailed explanation/opinion. I'm going to answer your question one by one, but remember this: the inception of this concept is like, what, a week ago, and I don't have a whole lot of detail as of now, it's still in the basic construction phase.

1. About character info, I'm trying to obscure it as much as possible. He doesn't usually involve in direct combat, but more opt to strike opponents from behind or shoot them in mid range with his tranquilizer rifle (I don't know if it exists or I have to make it up). I guess he's pretty good at Krav Maga and Silat, because....that's the only practical martial arts I know as of now. He's more leaning toward to extremely fast subduement (is that a word?), so fast that most opponents don't even know they got hit until they awake up in the prison. Something like modern ninja, I suppose.

2. I don't know it's possible, but he's both. Most don't even know his physical profile and nationality.

3. Oh my mistake; when I said no technology, I was trying to say he doesn't use anything absurdly sci-fi, like clothing that turns him invisible or some mutant power. Of course he uses tools, mostly stuff like Night Goggle, razor wire, and like I said, stun rifle.

4. I'm intentionally not planning to give any description on his clothing, but it's something that will blend very easily. For example, he once infilitrated a syndicate's headquarter disguised as one of the bodyguards. To be honest, this is one of the fields that I will have to do some research. How do you show someone's training regimen through insiginias and jewelry, out of all things?

5. I'm going with somewhere around six feet, very compact, flexible, and yes very high awareness. About handicaps...I haven't thought of yet.

Like I said, you aren't hijacking any idea, and in fact, it might be a vice-versa. The problem is, that I never EVER read any spy/espionage novels; I do love movies like The Dark Knight, Taken, and The Bourne Trilogy.

Anyway, thanks for the questions, really.

Sounds good. To elaborate a bit more, I think special attire and insignias indicate the type, degree or region of training for the character because certain physical trinkets are often given to those who pass some sort of test. It doesn't always have to be tangible. For example, one sci-fi story I came across had a character recognize the protagonist as a former member of an elite organization by the language she spoke. Only those who passed certain tests were allowed to learn that language. You could do something like that.

 17 d Roy, Thu, 5th May '11 9:37:04 PM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
[up] Hmm, correct me if I'm wrong, but why would he have anything that could identify him? Also, I'm thinking that like Hannibal Lector in The Silence of the Lambs, if it were turned into a movie, he would appear only for a short period, and probably the police and the villains will get much more screentime.

 18 d Roy, Fri, 13th May '11 4:44:08 AM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Also, would anyone want to watch a movie about a completely backgroundless and unseen main character and root for him?

 19 honorius, Fri, 13th May '11 8:04:13 AM from The Netherlands
1. About character info, I'm trying to obscure it as much as possible. He doesn't usually involve in direct combat, but more opt to strike opponents from behind or shoot them in mid range with his tranquilizer rifle (I don't know if it exists or I have to make it up). I guess he's pretty good at Krav Maga and Silat, because....that's the only practical martial arts I know as of now. He's more leaning toward to extremely fast subduement (is that a word?), so fast that most opponents don't even know they got hit until they awake up in the prison. Something like modern ninja, I suppose. 2. I don't know it's possible, but he's both. Most don't even know his physical profile and nationality. 3. Oh my mistake; when I said no technology, I was trying to say he doesn't use anything absurdly sci-fi, like clothing that turns him invisible or some mutant power. Of course he uses tools, mostly stuff like Night Goggle, razor wire, and like I said, stun rifle.
Just give him a gun and a combat knife. Stun rifles are experimental, you will probably end up badly injuring someone with them. If you want your character to kill a pistol is a better option. Razor wire is also exotic and with the time you spend learning how not to cut yourself with it you could learn practical and more efficient knife fighting as well.

Don't think a well skilled martial arts artist can survive everything though. If he is killing a mook and another one walks in and pulls his pistol at him and shoots, your modern ninja is bummed. Krav Maga teaches you how to disarm someone aiming a gun at pointblank in situations like robberies, but if someone really wants to kill you with a firearm you're screwed.

edited 13th May '11 8:04:28 AM by honorius

If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
 20 d Roy, Wed, 18th May '11 3:47:46 PM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
[up] Sounds like a good idea. But wouldn't gun be too loud? I heard that silencers don't do jack shit.

The problem is that I'm trying to make him a Technical Pacifist; he just incapacitates the criminals and drop them off to nearest police station.

Deterrance doesn't tend to work because the kind of people who tend to become criminals are insensitive to fear of punishment. Either they have compelling reasons to break the law which overwhelm their fear, or they simply don't feel fear very strongly.
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
 22 honorius, Thu, 19th May '11 6:29:13 AM from The Netherlands
[up][up]I don't think there's a ranged weapon that can incapacitate a target with complete silence
If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
See ALL the stars!
Tazer?
Da Rules excuse all the inaccuracy in the world. Listen to them, not me.
 24 honorius, Thu, 19th May '11 9:55:38 AM from The Netherlands
That doesn't work for anything further away than a few meters

Apparently it also makes people scream in a funny manner
If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
 25 d Roy, Thu, 19th May '11 3:41:55 PM Relationship Status: Hounds of love are hunting
Yeah, the last thing he would need is someone screaming outloud when he's trying to be quite.

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Total posts: 25
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