Fictional character traits
Improbable – questionable, incredible
I see this as the improbable but effective character who starts as an antihero and plunges straight toward villainy or grows into the barely tolerable type.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler.
The movie is a noirish thriller, interesting mostly for being built around an improbable character. As the guy who records and sells violent footage, even his eyes have dispensed with blinking, afraid he’d miss the money shot. Filming the dying with no emotional investment is incredible, isn’t it?
Often, this is the fictional character the writer disposes with, either by killing or sending him off into the night. He doesn’t have to be a thoroughly bad person, just ridiculously off enough to understand his improbable existence was designed as sacrifice for a cause or another character.
Take the Mitch Rapp series by Vice Flynn.
Stan Hurley is the old man handling CIA recruits, the great Mitch Rapp among them. Hurley is a pushy old man, understandably unlikable yet tolerable because Mitch’s future is in his hands.
When Hurley is written off, we feel his purpose in the series was designed for this very reason: create a horrible situation for all characters involved then have Hurley save the day. He was too improbable to last. This day, we felt, was coming. That takes planning, vision. Or is it pure dumb luck? Well, luck is a factor, but when luck is converted into something valuable, the writer demonstrated skill, and that takes planning. Practice.
Image: pixabay, metacritic