|Background image from thepatternlibrary.com.|
Shortly before planning, I read Aimee's post about nice guys in fiction, and I decided Thomas ought to be a nice guy. Except my inner dark side took over and decided he couldn't be too nice. But he was already perfectly situated to be the hero.
I then traipsed over to TV Tropes (see how much of writing is procrastinating?) and searched up The Hero and You Killed My Father. Then because I like to cause my own violent and painful death, I decided to subvert and/or invert as many of these as possible.
1. A hero is morally superior.
If you'll forgive the cliché: doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons. And even more than that, Thomas is his father's son, in that the means justify the ends, and the end is yourself.
2. A hero can bring together his allies as a team.
.. really, I should just re-use the gif, but I wouldn't want to bore you.
From the moment Thomas arrives at the capital, he becomes politically significant. And so there are quite a number of people who negotiate alliances with him. I chose to subvert this in two ways:
a) Most of his alliances were brokered by his mother and his uncle, not him. Plus, his friends are around for political benefits and such, not solidarity or loyalty.
b) Thomas alienates more people than he befriends. At least, the ones who don't look down on him for being a bastard stay well away from his brattiness.
(Thomas is the cutest brat ever, but gods he is a brat.)
3. A hero is skilled in swordfights or the equivalent.
... let's say this again. NO.
Thomas deals in words and politics and threats and he's not half bad at it. But the extent of his martial ability extends to dodging at the right moment. Still, because he's determined to make the world respect him, he does try to pick up a knife when masked miscreants (ooh, alliteration) crash his party. It doesn't end well.
(But really, it shouldn't matter. Because he doesn't want the world's respect, he wants his father's. Sad to say, neither knives nor words can impress dead men.)
4. The hero seeks vengeance for his father; his mother holds him back.
It would be more accurate to say Aisha groomed Thomas for avenging his father. Really, his mother does way more work than him. She does let Thomas do a few things for himself, but as said above: they don't typically end well.
Because really, what fifteen-year-old is excellent at politics compared to a forty-something lady who was a Governor's lover for two decades and in exile from a Prime Minister for another? To be honest, by the time I finished plotting, Thomas wasn't the hero any longer. The capital takes dreaming boys and buries them in graves where they can see the stars forever.
5. Miscellaneous other notes that amused me and therefore happened:
- Thomas is not classically attractive (tangent: have you all heard of the Arabian guy who was deported for being too hot?)
- And really, he never wants to kill Mallister per se. Fight him, ruin him, yeah — but Thomas thinks himself too mannered.
- He's so wary and calculating that if I told the story from another PoV, he could end up being a literal manipulative bastard.
So there we have it. I write problemative-fave antagonists. I write problematic protagonists. There is clearly something wrong with me. (And all my characters, really.)
Did I play enough with the "hero" trope? What other archetypes would you like to see subverted?
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