how do you write a non-dense harem mc?

Blackout

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thanks for all the suggestions, guys. one of my main problems is how to portray my mc as someone who's insecure at fist but gradually become more confident. one of my readers told me that the mc was dense at first and became narcissistic after a few chapters
 

Yorda

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Depends on what kind of story you're writing with special attention to the fact that your MC lacks confidence and is not a decisive badass.

If the harem members are like party members in a fantasy world then maybe the MC is aware of their feelings, but the MC may be trying to downplay the emotional tension or postpone a decision for the greater purpose of party cooperation and cohesion.

If the harem members are like girls at his high school or a more regular life then focusing on the MCs reasons for not being decisive might be the best option.

Give this MC some internal monologue and backstory. Perhaps he is the understanding and compassionate type.

"My childhood friend A has feelings for me. She doesn't fully realize it herself. Despite her abusive comments, she is afraid of losing me, it's common jealousy, but I can't resolve myself to reciprocate her feelings. Ever since I fucked up that one time and person B got hurt, I couldn't look at her properly anymore. I couldn't trust myself to protect her."

"Girl C, I know she doesn't see the real me, but my heart is always hoping for someone to accept me. I admire her, I really do, her cheerful personality, the confidence that I don't have, the liveliness that eludes me. It makes me wonder if I'm even living compared to someone like her. She's like that and I'm drawn to her radiant smile. It's like a moth to the flame, and even worse is that I know I'm hurting the others around me by clinging to her. I can hear their unspoken words, that I am not someone who deserves to be near her."

I just gave out some general feelings for example. However, the construction of the harem is just as important as the MC and their feelings because relationships involve 2+ people. With a harem, it's not just a relationship between two people, it's a web of interconnected circumstances and feelings. You might do well to set up the girls backstories to explain why they are fighting or stuck courting the same man. Why do the girls tolerate each other? What unofficial and unspoken truces have they signed? Or, why are they trying to rip each others' throats out?

The headache induced by the relationship web, the struggles that the MC has to deal with understanding the circumstances, the MC's actions, that's all good story material!
 

Mejiro

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you can, but a lot of harem is basically throwing in another waifu whenever interest wanes, in an on-going attempt to try and hook as many readers as possible by appealing to as wide a range as possible (basically, they're not really 'harems' in any organisational sense, more weirdly developed semi-serial semi-parallel kinda-sorta dating where no-one ever really collapses the waveform to discretely be explicitly dating, rather than kinda-sorta hanging out and being kinda-sorta interested in each other). Combine this with manga's serialised release patterns and susceptibility to character popularity ('this character is popular, put them in more') and things can get messy. or just adaptations of dating sims that collapse everyone's plots into one story, so there's all sorts of awkwardness of who is actually going out with whom, or is the MC just playing the field somehow?) Introducing a new haremette can basically be the genre equivalent of 'A new challenger appears!' in a fighting shonen - someone new appears to shake things up and see what happens. Which mig
 

BenJepheneT

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literally make him responsive and aware. that's it. the bar for good harem protagonist is so low the high jump committee for the midget's Olympics declared it "ableist"
 

Yiphen

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When I thought about the question for a bit, I don't think something like that would be possible.
In a monogamous relationship, both partners would focus all their love towards each other. It works because it's a 1 to 1 relationship.
The moment you make it polygamous, then there's literally no way for the same dude to love each individual woman as much as he would if there was only one.
Well, it might be possible in a 3 or 4 way relationship, but it would only be hard.
One way I think you could skirt around that is if you made the harem idea less about love and more about family.
 

AliceShiki

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When I thought about the question for a bit, I don't think something like that would be possible.
In a monogamous relationship, both partners would focus all their love towards each other. It works because it's a 1 to 1 relationship.
The moment you make it polygamous, then there's literally no way for the same dude to love each individual woman as much as he would if there was only one.
Well, it might be possible in a 3 or 4 way relationship, but it would only be hard.
One way I think you could skirt around that is if you made the harem idea less about love and more about family.
... Go read Nejima?

It's not that hard to make a harem with a non-dense protagonist. Being aware of people's feelings don't make the harem impossible.

Or I dunno, just read up on Polyamory or talk to some people that have polyamorous relationships. There is a lot of love involved in RL harems.
 

Yiphen

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... Go read Nejima?
I took a brief look at Koi to Uso (Assuming that's the anime you meant) and looking at the plot summary on Wikipedia it doesn't look like a harem.

It's not that hard to make a harem with a non-dense protagonist. Being aware of people's feelings don't make the harem impossible.
Okay, I might have exaggerated that but I still feel like it would be hard to pull off.

Or I dunno, just read up on Polyamory or talk to some people that have polyamorous relationships. There is a lot of love involved in RL harems.
With the harem novels I've read, all the love has been directed to one subject of interest, with his/her (usually his) other love interests possibly even viewing each other as rivals.
Meanwhile, with polyamory, everyone in the group loves each other equally with no "most loved individual", which I think is closer to the relationship of a family rather than a harem.
 

AliceShiki

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I took a brief look at Koi to Uso (Assuming that's the anime you meant) and looking at the plot summary on Wikipedia it doesn't look like a harem.
Mahou Sensei Negima! >.< (I made a typo in the last post, my bad)
With the harem novels I've read, all the love has been directed to one subject of interest, with his/her (usually his) other love interests possibly even viewing each other as rivals.
Well, yeah, that's a common trope, that doesn't mean it is impossible to make a more realistic portrayal of how an actual polyamorous relationship would work... You just need to shy away from the common tropes.
 

Moonpearl

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Meanwhile, with polyamory, everyone in the group loves each other equally with no "most loved individual", which I think is closer to the relationship of a family rather than a harem.

Do you mean real polyamory? Real polyamory doesn't mean that everyone's in a relationship with everyone else. Actually, it's pretty uncommon that you'll share lovers.

You don't have to get along with your lover's lovers either, although it will be messy and a real nightmare if you don't.
 

Yiphen

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Do you mean real polyamory? Real polyamory doesn't mean that everyone's in a relationship with everyone else. Actually, it's pretty uncommon that you'll share lovers.
I should probably read the Wikipedia descriptions more closely ( ._.)

Mahou Sensei Negima! >.< (I made a typo in the last post, my bad)
Oh, actually I really liked that one. Only stopped reading because I caught up with the chapters which I consider a good thing.
 

AliceShiki

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Oh, actually I really liked that one. Only stopped reading because I caught up with the chapters which I consider a good thing.
... But it was fully translated a long time ago?

I mean, there was a reboot released some time back, and I'm unsure if that one was fully translated or not, but the original series was translated until the end.
 

AliceShiki

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I stopped reading manga and pivoted to novels ~3 years ago.
Oooooooooooh~

I abandoned mangas for novels some years back, but... After a while I did the reverse and abandoned the novels for mangas! XD

I'm keeping up with basically Kenkyo only in the novel end... Though from time to time I try reading something else... Mangas OTOH I still read plenty! XD
 

ForestDweller

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Oooooooooooh~

I abandoned mangas for novels some years back, but... After a while I did the reverse and abandoned the novels for mangas! XD

I'm keeping up with basically Kenkyo only in the novel end... Though from time to time I try reading something else... Mangas OTOH I still read plenty! XD

Funny how a bunch of the isekai I liked is so much better in manga form, thanks to the artist. If I just read the novel, I wouldn't like them at all.
 

AliceShiki

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Funny how a bunch of the isekai I liked is so much better in manga form, thanks to the artist. If I just read the novel, I wouldn't like them at all.
Well, from my personal experience, 90% of the manga adaptations of Light Novels are pure garbage, so... I honestly dunno how you feel like that! >.<

Like, anime adaptations are usually okay, but the manga ones are just so terrible... I could never get into them.

I usually just read original mangas instead.
 

ForestDweller

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Well, from my personal experience, 90% of the manga adaptations of Light Novels are pure garbage, so... I honestly dunno how you feel like that! >.<

Like, anime adaptations are usually okay, but the manga ones are just so terrible... I could never get into them.

I usually just read original mangas instead.

The novels we got translated are the web novels, not the light novels that usually are the base of the manga. And usually, thanks to the presence of an actual editor, only the light novels have decent enough prose and writing to be readable.

For example, one of the series I read have this scene with poor, malnourished peasants that the MC fail to heal, since healing magic can't cure poverty and starvation. It's just glossed over by the web novel, but in the manga, you actually get to see how horrible they look, and how horrified and regretful the MC react to his inability to help them.

And there's another one where the manga is full of hilarious reaction faces that you can't really find on the web novel, or even on the light novel, where the artwork just looks like your generic anime fantasy artwork.
 

AliceShiki

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The novels we got translated are the web novels, not the light novels that usually are the base of the manga. And usually, thanks to the presence of an actual editor, only the light novels have decent enough prose and writing to be readable.

For example, one of the series I read have this scene with poor, malnourished peasants that the MC fail to heal, since healing magic can't cure poverty and starvation. It's just glossed over by the web novel, but in the manga, you actually get to see how horrible they look, and how horrified and regretful the MC react to his inability to help them.

And there's another one where the manga is full of hilarious reaction faces that you can't really find on the web novel, or even on the light novel, where the artwork just looks like your generic anime fantasy artwork.
I'm talking about the Light Novels, not the Webnovels.

The officially translated versions are always of the Light Novels, and the majority of the old translations are also of the Light Novels... It was only in recent years that official translations became more common, which made fantranslators start shying away from the LN and instead look for the safer WNs.

But well, if you enjoy the mangas, all is well! \(^^)/

It's just that my personal experience with them has been horrible, so I usually prefer to read the novel directly or watch an anime adaptation instead... And only go to mangas when the manga is the original one.
 

DDTStudios

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Either make them really pervy or have them catch onto small cues everytime there is one.
 

ddevans

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Density is the reason the MC doesn't 'just pick one' since it would seem like he was stringing them along if he does realize.

What your MC needs is a good reason not to commit. For this you can contrive any reason, but might I recommend my personal Yandere Theory of Harems, an axiom which comprehensively reimagines the entire genre and all the heroes in it:

As the size of a harem increases, the odds that one of the girls is a yandere approaches 1. It is not always obvious which one this is, and even if it is obvious it may not be possible to get rid of them. The yandere will always react violently if she is not picked, harming either herself or others. The MC is forced to suspend his romantic pursuits until the yandere situation is resolved.

As you can see, Theoretically speaking, harem MCs aren't dense at all. They're very shrewd.
 
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