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This concept is based off of an scp foundation wiki monster. http://www.scp-wiki.net/scp-231

The birth of a POV character causes the deaths of tens of millions of people. As that character matures and learns what the devastation they caused, he feels terribly guilty and ashamed, and he has to come to terms with the fact that he caused the deaths of 10 million people, as well as other significant damage around the world.

Given the remorse shown by more ordinary murders can be interpreted as crocodile tears, a way to gain sympathy in order to not be held responsible for a crime, or for leniency, how can I show this character's remorse for events he is responsible for but had no control over without making him a self-pitying whiner?

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  • Unfortunately, I think this may be closed as a "what to write" question. I would recommend rephrasing this as, perhaps, "how to portray remorse for an immoral act".
    – user34214
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 14:19
  • Have you seen Avengers: Infinity War? There is a gulf of difference between agreeing with someone and understanding someone's point of view.
    – hszmv
    Commented Dec 4, 2019 at 18:07
  • @weakdnasaysreinstatemonica It could probably be rewritten to be a more generic question on the same issue, but the core question is a good one for the site to cover.
    – Weckar E.
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 16:28

2 Answers 2

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My take is that the best non-self-pity way for this remorse to be portrayed is to have the character working towards making amends. Have him dedicate his life to hunting for damage done and trying to fix it. Maybe make him the enemy of the cult that caused this in the first place. He doesn't have to do this overtly...if they want to make him their god he could go along with it and work from within to destroy them. And I would recommend that you don't have him vow to do these things, or obsess over them or any other over-dramatic trope. Just assume that this is his motivation and let readers deduce the "why" as they discover his background.

This will portray him in a positive way, and gives lots of opportunity for conflict (both internal and external). It also gives opportunity for character change. For example, he might start out as a somewhat grim person because he blames himself for the death and destruction (though this shouldn't be something you bring out, as that can seem self pitying, just let the readers figure it out because of the decisions he makes and the things that he reacts strongly to) and you might eventually have him realize, as part of the resolution, that it wasn't his fault, and that eventual acceptance will allow him to become a less grim person.

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It doesn't sound like he IS responsible for the deaths of 10 million people, being born is not a sin, or a conscious act of evil.

The people that intentionally caused his birth are the people to blame for the 10 million deaths and other destruction. Nobody chooses to be born, it is forced upon them despite their will, or in the case of an infant, he was presumably absent of any will, being devoid of mental capacity and the ability to have any moral sense at all.

He can regret the circumstances of his birth, but the blame belongs squarely on the cultists, and he has shunned them, there is nothing more for him to do, and nothing for him to feel guilty about.

You can portray that attitude. He should feel guilty for harm he intentionally caused, but the 10 million are not dead through any intent of his.

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