I’ve talked about how difficult it is to have a monstrous hero without going too far to one side. With any luck, I’ve struck the right balance in War of Nytefall, but only time will tell there. So, what are some things to consider?
- Never be afraid to have your monster act like a monster to some extent. I don’t mean go on a rampage, but have moments of being cruel or scaring people. Remember the nature of the beast that you’re working with. This is a crucial part of their powers and personality even if they’re fighting against it. It can also keep the reader wondering if the hero will go back to his or her darker origins.
- Whether you use it or not, world-building of the monster’s history and social standing can help establish the protagonist’s limits in terms of heroism. It also helps the author get an idea of how people will react to the hero. This is easier if the monster is rare or considered a legend like ‘Hellboy’. If they’re a more numerous and organized group like vampires then you should consider a little flushing out.
- Many monsters have weaknesses like silver, sunlight, stakes, etc. Fit these into the story, but don’t overdo their use. There should be a sense of danger for the hero, but this can be pushed to a point where they’re practically neutered. For example, imagine if every criminal had Kryptonite in Metropolis. Superman wouldn’t have as big an impact and the sense of him being an underdog would come off as force.
- If your monstrous hero has a violent streak and tends to leave bodies behind then you need to establish a reason for that not getting them in trouble. Is there an associated team that hides the evidence? Is it a world where such things aren’t that unusual like in fantasy or post-apocalyptic settings? Readers might question how a supposed hero gets away with horrible acts without any repercussions. These are the types that are expected to suffer consequences unlike the villains.
- Social awkwardness of some kind is both common and expected. With the hero coming from a non-human group, they began life with a different mindset towards those they are protecting. It could be prey, inferiors, or hunters, but they might still have some problems mingling with human culture. This can be played for comedy and drama, depending on the mood and tone. You can also work with a variety of issues here like shyness, anxiety, bad manners, no verbal filter, and whatever else we would normally look at oddly if a human did it.
- No eating the other good guys. Simple rule, but you’d be surprised how often people think a monstrous antihero can still eat the good guys.
- Make the reason for the monster being a hero very clear. This can come into conflict with #1, but you need to explain why they refuse to act like the rest of their species. It doesn’t even have to be a secret. Many times, an antihero like this will openly discuss the topic. Humans will be afraid of them and question their true intentions, so they need to be willing to defend themselves.