An anti-hero isn’t just an ordinary hero who has gone through a goth phase. Instead, they’re devious and serve as bleak reminders of how individuals with decent intentions can turn out to be awful. Anti-heroes can be as interesting as standard heroes or villains, but they’re not always easy to create. This article discusses a few tips on how to write a story based on an anti-hero. However, before we do that, we must first understand what an anti-hero is.
The protagonist of a story is usually referred to as the “hero” in literature. An “anti-hero” is a protagonist whose morals are murkier compared to your average protagonist’s. They appear imperfect, complicated, and empathetic to the spectator. Although they are typically doing their best, they are often perceived as damaged or broken.
Furthermore, anti-heroes lack many of the characteristics we identify with heroes: they make “poor” decisions, are frequently self-serving, and do not adhere to society’s expectations and standards.
Different Types of Anti-heroes
Anti-heroes Settling a Score
Anti-heroes may appeal to our sense of justice—or, more accurately, our objection to tremendous injustice. When an anti-hero settles a score, they end up balancing the scales, even though their purpose is to commit what may be called an evil deed out of context. They believe that the ends justify the means. Some examples of this include:
Beatrix Kiddo loses her unborn child after being nearly assassinated in Kill Bill: Vol. 1. She vows vengeance on every member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad as a result.
A classic example of an anti-hero is Robin Hood. You know who he steals from and who he provides to—and you believe it to be fair.
Anti-heroes Seeking Redemption
Other anti-heroes do terrible things because they believe they won’t be able to redeem themselves. However, a well-crafted tale has a decent chance of proving otherwise.
Most of us have binge-watched the hell out of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s performance in Fleabag. She is deceptive, sarcastic, and even immoral at times. And yet, we still root for her to be happy.
Ebenezer Scrooge may be the villain in “A Christmas Carol,” but do you recall what made him like this? Parental abandonment, harsh schoolmasters, and an incapacity to love.
Tips on How to Write a Story Based on an Anti-Hero
How can you make your own anti-heroes as effective as those we’ve shared above? To help you out, here are five strategies to make your anti-hero one of the main attractions of your story:
Give Them a Sidekick
When anti-heroes have something sarcastic to say, they can sound amusing. Let’s use the example of Geralt of Rivia here. On his own, he’s presumably silent, harsh, and goes about his business, rather than making jokes like Jack Sparrow. What are our options for fixing this? Enter Jaskier.
This is referred to as the “Donkey and Shrek” approach. Firstly, watching a bouncy, witty sidekick trying to make friends with the world’s grumpiest person can be particularly amusing. Furthermore, it breaks up some of the doom-and-gloom and provides the audience with something more dynamic, lively, and engaging to experience while these individuals are on their journey.
Ensure They’re Not the Main Attraction, But a Feature
Anti-heroes, as we’ve already mentioned, can be depressing. They can be irritable and incompatible with other characters at their worst and unpredictable and unmanageable at their best. Even if they are humorous and have a noble motive, it can be tough for an audience to sit with a completely self-serving person.
This is because anti-heroes are a bit unpredictable. And there’s an easy solution to calm things down: make them a feature and relegate them to the sidelines.
We’ll use Jack Sparrow as an example here. Sure, he’s a big character, but he’s not our protagonist. Our major protagonists are Elizabeth Swann and Will Turner. Jack Sparrow serves as their pirate guide helping and deceiving them in turns. As a result, all of his eccentricities and strange behavior serve as comedic relief. He’s a refreshing change from the typical pirate tale, and he makes the story more enjoyable and exciting.
Give Them a Code
We don’t want our anti-heroes to be outright villains, and we want them to have a reason for acting the way they do. However, there are instances when a little extra something is required to make it apparent to the audience why they act the way they do and why they matter.
To achieve this, you need to give them a code! We can refer to this as the “Batman approach.” Batman is the quintessential anti-hero, with unusual methods and a gruff manner that checks all the right anti-hero boxes. One thing that distinguishes him as a successful anti-hero rather than an erratic and annoying figure is that he follows a strict code: he doesn’t take lives. You can do that for your Anti-hero as well!
Anti-heroes provide us the opportunity to indulge in dark fantasies of being a leather-clad badass. They’re also an exercise in seeing life through the eyes of decent people who made poor decisions, suffered severely, or were dealt awful cards. If you need help learning how to write a story based on an anti-hero, get in touch with our team. We offer professional book editing services and can help you create a compelling anti-hero!