Reading An Old Draft A Decade Later: Argus vs Proto-Argus

So…I read Death of A Prince and I was expecting to make comparisons between that and Of Rust and Gold and it was surprisingly worse than I was expecting. There were very clear similarities between Argus and Alexen (the mc of Death of A Prince) beyond their name but Alexen is undeniably worse and I’m not even sure what I was going for with him.  I’ll list them though.

  • Both have a dedicated albeit “abused” main servant. Although Claude (in Death of A Prince) is definitely more mistreated than Luz in ORG. Claude gets physically hurt whereas Luz usually just gets Argus’ verbal lashings.
  • Dead/killed parent. Both their mothers. Only in Death of A Prince it looks like I was working a serial murder angle (with Alexen’s mother being the first victim vs Argus’ being a victim of the political climate)
  • Both are sons of an emperor although the government of Death of A Prince is different and not something I’m completely uninterested in trying again (I kinda do it with the Twelve Ruling Families in Gegra in ORG where a monarch is voted for/selected by a council of other royals it just wasn’t done as well as I could do it now.) 
  • Also a little bit of a strange coincidence but both end up surrounded by powerful women who antagonize them. For wildly different reasons (and I think Alexen deserves it a bit more) 
  • There’s definitely an element of “black sheepness” with both characters and also having a spoiled upbringing that lends itself to bullying and being a bit of a jerk. 

Like, I can see stuff that I potentially “like” about it. Seeing as I started it in 2012 it was likely my first real attempt at political fantasy. Alexen’s entire motivation is becoming emperor or maintaining power by any means necessary and it’s weird to say he’s horrible and that’s why I don’t like him as a character but he’s an unsuccessful proto-Argus. Not that Argus is so much above him in terms of being a better person but I think I handled his character better because of who I surrounded him with. Where I had several characters repeatedly try to see the good in Alexen despite being shown otherwise, most characters in ORG tend to try and get Argus to see the bad in himself so that he can make the choice to change (or skip over his unlikability in order to attempt to manipulate him) which I think makes Argus a lot more fun to read about. I also have no memory of writing it or what I was thinking for the story overall so reading it was weird because what I thought was going to happen while reading did not happen (granted I apparently only wrote 23k words of the story but for all my other old drafts I at least remember what I wanted the ending to be. This one is completely gone from my brain).

Alexen is an only child. He was spoiled but also isolated and for fun he turned to bullying to protect his self esteem and to give himself a false sense of superiority over others. I don’t remember how old he is during the main story, but clearly young enough to still depend on his father. There seems to be small parts where I want to redeem him or show his good qualities in “subtle” ways. Like him missing his mother, accounting much of his behavior to jealousy and not understanding how to socialize with his peers, unable to get much needed affection from his family, and being too concerned with appearances.  Which on the surface level is something I can also say about Argus (minus the only child part obviously). It was just not done well. I’m not even sure how to describe why I think it wasn’t done well. Maybe he was too childish, too much of a jerk to make those attempts matter, or the intensity of his bad qualities definitely dulled any impact his “good” ones could have. 

The problem with Alexen really is that I don’t think at the time I knew how to write someone unlikable without making them insufferable. It’s good that he’s now in the graveyard and that he will not be coming back. If anything we should all appreciate Argus a little more. 

Now, my boyfriend wants to read it because I’ve complained about how bad it is but I am currently debating burning it so no one can ever see it again. I already got rid of them but now I’m sad I didn’t skim the old comments and reader reactions to this.

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