forum How to write a character that simply doesn't care?
Started by @s0ft_stardust groupOne Brain Cell

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@s0ft_stardust groupOne Brain Cell

For context oh, My character Nova destroys their entire planet after being betrayed by their best friend. Their whole backstory dynamic is “Once a Great Hero, betrayed by their best friend, turned into a villain” . I want to know how to write a character who really doesn't care about the consequences, the morals, or anything in between. Nova knows about what they did; they know they've hurt so many people in the process of getting revenge, but simply doesn't care. They've been through enough pain that the death of thousands of people is meaningless to them. How do I write someone like that? What type of narrative / dialogue with said person have?

(For anyone wondering the Betrayal was their friend Lavender, who was like a sister to them, set them up in an arranged marriage for Alliance purposes and because that was Lavender's sister, who had a crush on Nova, but Nova fell in love with someone else. This pissed Lavender off, so she revoked Nova’s their position as high priestess and banished them from their coven; the coven that Nova built)


Hi there! First of all, I don't of course know as much about your story as you do, so please ignore any of this that isn't helpful to you.
Some things I would consider when writing a villain who doesn't care about morality:

  • What then is the motivation of this character? Generally everything a well-rounded character does is driven by their worldview and their moral code. If Nova's motivation is revenge, that means some part of her recognizes that being hurt by her friend was wrong, and having a conflict of ideologies where someone tries to point out the scale/collateral of her revenge doesn't actually measure up to that initial moral code of "hurting-people = wrong" could be really interesting and a fun way to explore the mindsets of both your villain and your hero (if you have one). This was actually really well done in the Netflix's Castlevania series, and I would highly recommend you study the way they portrayed that series' villain if you want to do something similar!
  • If this character's morality is entirely driven by selfishness (My pain/life > the pain/lives of everyone else) then you're likely looking at something similar to the "Pure evil" villain archetype. Here's a video that helped me understand how to pull off this particular trope better than I could explain it to you:
  • If it's primarily some kind of mental trauma driving this character, I would honestly be really careful with that. If whatever pain Nova has experienced was enough to give her some issues mentally, there are a couple of different ways to approach that, but this is something you need to handle really delicately. I've seen this done before where trauma causes a character to become a psychopath, or a mental illness more or less consumes a character to the point where some would say they're barely human anymore. (Think of Heath Leger's Joker and BBC's Moriarty.) There are a couple of issues with this I want to throw out though:
    1. Mental illness (PTSD, Depression, Psychotic disorders, etc) are all real things that affect real people. Making some form of mental disorder caused by trauma the reason or even justification for the horrible things a villian does might send a very bad message to your audience.
    2. Remember that the audience should NEVER see the author's hand in the story if you can help it. If a villain only does things that drives the plot because she's ~cRazY~ with no other reasoning or self-serving motive behind it, it's going to be very clear to the audience that the author is just messing around. Again, I'd like to point out BBC's Moriarty, who makes absolutely no sense as a character because EVERYTHING HE DOES is to mess with the heroes rather than serve some personal agenda. I love the show, but. Pls don't do that with your villain. Pls XD

For some final thoughts: If Nova is supposed to be a way to explore how hurt people hurt people, great!! That sounds really fascinating, and best of luck with writing it! Hopefully something in this is helpful in any way to you!