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Unsympathetic POV Character:

The story that I'm currently working on is centered around an Eldritch Abomination who has to pose as a high school student to find another Eldritch Abomination who is wanted dead or alive, and, well, it doesn't exactly comprehend some of the more basic aspects of human morality, despite studying them. The story's main plot point is that its callousness and utter lack of respect for its classmates leads to ruined lives and underlying conflict.

The kicker is, I'm writing the story in first-person, from its point of view. Any tips on how to do this without making the story unreadable due to lack of sympathy? I plan on making it (the character) fairly . . . interesting, but not the slightest bit sympathetic. I have at least one idea to lighten this up if it becomes a problem (shift point of view every few chapters), but I hope I don't have to rely on it too much.

How often should I have it disagree with my/the reader's viewpoints? How often should it cross the line? Stuff like that. Thanks in advance!

edited 12th Oct '10 10:02:02 AM by Everest

 
Well, the audience still needs something to grasp onto, so a conflict where the Abomination must fit in would create some false sympathy to get your readers hooked.
Amateur cook Professional procrastinator

Pronounced YAK-you-luss
Try to make your non-viewpoint characters sympathetic, perhaps? Play a bit of Bait the Dog with your protagonist?
Freedom of speech includes the freedom for other people to call you out on your bullshit.
^ Done, and . . . well, sort of. Example: early on, it becomes especially interested in a girl who befriends it quickly, but it thinks nothing of killing her cat and posing as it to get closer to her. That's the sort of thing that would happen in this story. Almost all of the non-viewpoint characters will hopefully be sympathetic to some degree, or else the main plot point would go out the window.

I think playing Bait the Dog straight could work, but my current prologue says otherwise, having already established it as a bit of a prick. It will appear to play the trope straight later on, which might leave the reader confused as to how to feel about the character. Which could be a good thing if it makes them think.
 
"Any tips on how to do this without making the story unreadable due to lack of sympathy?"

I think there's way too much emphasis on needing to make the perspective character sympathetic. Just revel in showing your reader how scary this guy is, while writing it to be consistent and understandable (which is totally different from sympathetic).
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
^ All true. It's not so much that it has to be sympathetic. I just don't want it to be so unlikeable that it drives the reader away, despite its quirks. That's the sort of thing I'm trying for. Sympathetic character =/= good character, not always. It just comes down to how well-written the character is.
 
Moronic, pretentious fan
It doesn't need to be sympathetic. Just interesting.

I have a detective story featuring a callous, ruthless dickweed of a protagonist - the interest is all in plot twists and revelations and intellectual gambits, so with the focus shifted from emotional and dramatic elements somewhat it doesn't matter how sympathetic or not the POV is. The crux is making the aspects of a story that one focuses on work.
Because I choose to.
 8 EHK, Wed, 6th Oct '10 8:32:53 AM from EAST ALWAYS EAST
Happy Christmas!
Are you trying for a black comedy because I laughed out loud when I read about it killing the girls cat to get close to her. It's horrible, but it's just that horrible that it becomes funny to me. Then again I could just have a messed up sense of humor.

If you want to add in a bit of Black Comedy though that would make people like the character better in the same way audiences love The Joker. Although I know nothing about how you want to write this story so whatever and good luck.

edited 6th Oct '10 8:34:32 AM by EHK

A friend is someone you trust to help you move. A best friend is someone you trust to hide the body.
^ To be honest, that's the sort of thing that I would laugh at too. Then again, I wasn't trying to fit the story into any genre (or at least, not one in particular), and, if done well, there could be any number of different reactions or interpretations, and none of them would be the correct one. The story would just be, and it would be up to the reader to decide how they feel about it.

edited 8th Oct '10 6:52:26 AM by Everest

 
People love to fantasize about being someone else, and that includes things that they wouldn't actually want to be. Most evil protagonists are basically a power trip for the reader. Useless or pitiful characters may be hated but they can still bank on sympathy from others. Jerks get fans because everyone wants to disregard authority and social duties sometimes.

So a cool Eldritch Abomination is not problem, I think - it can make a very effective fantasy, especially if the reader likes some horror and the thrill he gets out of it. In fact, I think the sympathy factor becomes the source of terror in a story like this - the reader would enjoy the kick they get out of being in the shoes of this alien, murderous character but they'd be hesitant to sympathize too much both with him (because they would have to question their own goodness) and the side characters (because they don't want to feel too sad when they die), so treating both sides with a sympathetic POV is one of the crueller -and more effective - things you can do with the audience, I think. Go for it.

Speaking of unsympathetic protagonists, that was the appeal for me with Light Yagami. I kept thinking 'oh, is this when he'll finally show some genuine caring for another human being?' and then realizing it was just part of another Xanatos Gambit. I found it so fascinating to read about an apparently ordinary kid who, despite having a (sort of) noble goal, is completely lacking in true empathy.
If I'm asking for advice on a story idea, don't tell me it can't be done.
 12 EHK, Sun, 17th Oct '10 10:50:46 PM from EAST ALWAYS EAST
Happy Christmas!
If you do go with a black comedy approach I would kill any pet the dog moments at the start of the story and kick it as hard as possible. Going for both would just be confusing I would think, although making your abomination trying to be nice as it's goal but only capable of crossing the line twice would work wonderfully.
A friend is someone you trust to help you move. A best friend is someone you trust to hide the body.
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Total posts: 12
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