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Writing Anti Heroes

Thomas CovenantGoogle defines “anti hero” as:

“a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.”

In practice, this often means a character who is the purported “hero” of the story – the protagonist who carries the arc of the plot – but is often deeply flawed or does bad things.

My classic go-to for this one is Thomas Covenant from Stephen Donaldson’s The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever – a man with leprosy from our world who is transported to a fantasy world where he is suddenly healed, and, because he doesn’t believe it can be real – nerves can’t be regenerated – rapes a young woman, setting off a series of other events.

So how can we apply this device to LGBT sci fi, fantasy, and paranormal stories? Can it be used to shed light on our struggles in society? And has it already been (I want titles and authors)? :)

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1 thought on “Writing Anti Heroes”

  1. How about Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey? Vanyel isn’t awful to the extent of Thomas Covenant but he’s not appealing or nice at all in the first book of the series. He’s gay and that’s such an alien concept in his upbringing that he doesn’t even have a word for it. He just knows he’s miserable and hates everyone and pretty much everyone hates him back. It’s set in a midieval-type fantasy world but the issues and reactions of the people in Vanyel’s life are still spot on in the real world too.

    Considering that one has a 1991 copyright date and was and is still marketed (very successfully) as mainstream fantasy makes it special.


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