Characters who DON'T give the guy who can kill them lip?

EdLincoln

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There are certain tropes I see so often it makes me want to seek the opposite.

There are A LOT of stories where there is a character who has enormous power over the hero, and the hero bravely stands up to/mocks them. The powerful character can be a Master Vampire, Prince, Alien Conqueror, or god. He's usually the villain, but for some weird reason he's sometimes the love interest. It's supposed to be heroic, but (depending on the context) often seems just dumb. It's particularly egregious if the hero grew up as the bottom tier in an oppressive dystopia...characters that do that would tend to not live to adulthood in those environments.

Can anyone think of books where the hero is very polite to the awesomely powerful guy (or gal)? Perhaps quietly keeps his anger secret while plotting against them? Or tries to guage whether honesty would be fatal?
 
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Robert Zwilling

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People probably expect the hero to give a speech that shows the hero isn't afraid while the villain in their moment of superiority would not attack the hero, of course if the villain forcefully attacked, that character's role could easily be over and a new character would have to be introduced or more likely a minor character would have to to step up to a major role. I can't think of anything current, just bits and pieces from older non scifi/fantasy material. An alternative to being polite or overly boastful, the character could respond in a skillfully sarcastic manner which would mean more to the reader than to the villain. When reading about an encounter, perhaps a polite reply would be anticlimatic to the pace of the story. Carefully crafted sarcastic replies that say something meaningful and keep the momentum rolling are probably harder to write than boastful responses.
 

EdLincoln

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I guess what bothers me isn't so much the Epic Confrontation between the hero and the villain at the end. It bothers me more when it's a class based Medieval or Dystopian society and the peasant is plucky and rude to the Prince from day one. I recently read a book set in a Medieval Dystopia (Bonus Points for combining both!) where the peasant girl was constantly rude to the prince (who was also a powerful wizard). Didn't fit with the setting and seemed kind of dumb. There is also a whole genre of Plucky Action Girl Heroines who stand up to Ancient Powerful Master Vampires and are rude to them...then end up a couple after 6 books. That one has gotten really old to me.

The Young Ancients series started out with a fun bit where the hero was constantly worried his noble classmates would have him killed if he was rude...it was almost refreshing (although the series went full on Mary Sue and imploded later...)
 

-K2-

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You need to bear in mind, in real life, meek, humble, typically non-confrontational individuals tend to go out of their way to avoid problems. What that translates into (like in 1984), they have been so conditioned to be subservient that when the time comes, their rebellion is performed via petty sneaks, and when push comes to shove they fold hoping for mercy. Then you have those that simply never learn, poking the bear from day one...

That said, another example like you're seeking (though I can only respond having seen 1 1/2 of the movies) is the Hunger Games. At least in the movie, the heroic characters even till the end never flatly rebelled.

What I think you need to look for are books where the villain attacks the friends/family/community of what are typically peaceful, un-oppressed people. That's the point where you'll find your hero that will raise up, albeit enraged, though out of their element so not as blatantly combative out of the gate.

K2

Edit... As a p.s.: in my current work I have a constantly confrontational protagonist, but, she from the beginning has proved herself to be close to suicidal in her efforts to prod fate to do it for her. The back story supports the why, but just like most, when she gets her chance most times (besides refusing to do it herself), her natural survival instincts kick it. So, consider the backstories as well.
 
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Jo Zebedee

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blah - flags. So many flags.
It’s pretty much the coping strategy of my main character in Abendau - quiet resistance, not macho fight back. No idea how it is to read but writing such a character and still keeping pace up is a tough one
 

Dave

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I may have got what you wanted wrong, as others are giving examples of heroes who are meek and mild mannered, Superman types, but when I read what you posted in the OP I immediately thought, 'What about Obi-Wan Kenobi as Darth Vader is about to finish him off,'
“If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.”
 

EdLincoln

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It’s pretty much the coping strategy of my main character in Abendau - quiet resistance, not macho fight back. No idea how it is to read but writing such a character and still keeping pace up is a tough one
Sounds refreshing. Is it available anywhere for me to read?

You need to bear in mind, in real life, meek, humble, typically non-confrontational individuals tend to go out of their way to avoid problems. What that translates into (like in 1984), they have been so conditioned to be subservient that when the time comes, their rebellion is performed via petty sneaks,
Actually, I'd find that very interesting.

It would be a little novel at this point at this point to read a sneaky, superficially subserviant character. Usually only the bad guys are sneaky. ( I have trouble connecting to Over-The-Top Action Heroes. If the writer isn't really good they can come off as self destructive jerks or flat Superman clones.)

The opposite of what you proposed would be interesting...characters from oppressive societies who are moved to more free societies and learn there are better ways to live.



What's K2?

EDIT: Figured that out literally right after I posted this.
 
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Jo Zebedee

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Yeah - i’m on amazon under Jo Zebedee. But my point was the writing aspect - it’s hard to nail and not always conducive to pacing and keeping the reader engrossed which might be why it’s relatively rare?
 

EdLincoln

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Yeah - i’m on amazon under Jo Zebedee. But my point was the writing aspect - it’s hard to nail and not always conducive to pacing and keeping the reader engrossed which might be why it’s relatively rare?

Thanks!

You are probably right. A confrontational hero is an obvious way to create conflicts. A story needs conflicts. I've gotten bored with confrontational Action Heroes and am more interested in character studies and world building at this point, but others feel differently, and even a character study book requires a certain minimum level of momentum.

There are also a couple of...trope combinations that lead to this. There seem to be many women who's template for fictional romances is based on Cinderella and Pride & Prejudice...but who are uncomfortable with this from a feminist perspective. Many seem to be creating guys based on Mr. Darcy and Prince Charming and then trying to balance it by pairing having the female lead yell at them and voice 21st century feminist principles.
There are also many who base underclass charecters on real minorities today and then set them in Dystopias that dial the oppression to 11. (Lots of people like to dial a variable to 11 and not think about how that would change other variables.)
 
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Teresa Edgerton

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The hero of my novels Goblin Moon and Hobgoblin Night is always impeccably polite—it's what he does.

Come to that, I can't think of any of my heroes who give big speeches or indulge in snappy backchat. They tend to be men of action, who, in tight situations, are focussed on what they can do next, rather than on what clever thing they can say next. Not that they are humorless, I hope, but they're not much for wise-cracks.
 
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