Discussion What makes a good harem story for you?

Discussion in 'Novel General' started by filimonviorelclaudiu, Sep 13, 2021.

  1. filimonviorelclaudiu

    filimonviorelclaudiu Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Reading List:
    Link
    I'm a bit of a pervert and like harem stories. It's my guild pleasure, what can I say? However, I haven't seen many good ones. Either the plot is just that gathering women and bang them or it's just a subplot to the main plot where the mc chases his goal, immortality, revenge, whatever that may be while gathering women on the side.

    Sometimes the harem is so big you can make two (European)football teams and the characters are usually two-dimensional, which doesn't help.

    And while I read harem stories, that doesn't mean I like this formula, so it's a mystery what got me into it. Well not really, it was ATG.

    Anyway, I want to write my own urban fantasy and I want to see what other views are out there. As the title states, what makes a good harem story to you? And how many of the harem tropes do you think a story must have? Which ones do you think are bad? Must it be the main plot or a subplot? What is a good number of members?
     
  2. elengee

    elengee Daoist Ninefaps

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2016
    Messages:
    13,190
    Likes Received:
    25,222
    Reading List:
    Link
    Wincest.
     
  3. CardOne4All

    CardOne4All Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2020
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    254
    Reading List:
    Link
    Sincest is bad
     
  4. Nneeil

    Nneeil CEO of Vaginal Plugs Ltd

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2016
    Messages:
    413
    Likes Received:
    276
    Reading List:
    Link
    You can't go wrong with incest
     
  5. Darkcrow.

    Darkcrow. Transcended into Sigma

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2018
    Messages:
    1,213
    Likes Received:
    1,339
    Reading List:
    Link
    You had to go and mention it.
    Fuck you
     
  6. otaku31

    otaku31 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    5,501
    Likes Received:
    21,228
    Reading List:
    Link
    One where the protagonist is frank about his desires of getting a wife or two, and sets out wife-hunting for that very purpose, but at no point in his quest does he appear shameless, distasteful or coercive, ending up winning the ladies' admiration but not their hand as a result of the author knowing full well that letting him preserve his innocence till a certain age would allow him to wield godly power— a development some perverse readers of his novel have been looking forward to even as they paradoxically want to see him get laid, aka the anticipation marking the titillating tension between the pleasure of sex and the power of sagehood in Orc Eroica. :blobpeek:
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
    phonebinder and Greater thunder like this.
  7. LittleBigSnowFlower

    LittleBigSnowFlower 悪くないよねぇ 〜

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2019
    Messages:
    469
    Likes Received:
    378
    Reading List:
    Link
    A good harem story?

    It's quite deep. But if you're making it in urban genre, you're in for a very hard trip...

    First of all on urban novels... You're already hard-pressed on how you could make the men/women accept polygamous/polyamorous relationship. It's what mostly lacks points onto as you're handling a world that widely disdain polygamy... And don't make me angry that "strong" men/women can love more than one, that just mean you're not sincere enough to love your partner, you got to be shitting me. Empty words like I'll love you equally etc. doesn't cut it and it shows in those novels, you can't love them equally at all. I'll just be honest and just make the harem be like a legal wife + hidden lovers, but that's even a hurdle when you should also think that someone will rat you out there too. So to make a harem in urban world, you got to pass a very logical hurdle first to that could convince the readers at (though so for being picky but i think you want a perfect representation so I'll give you that)

    Next that should be taken care of is characterization of the harem... This is what settles mostly whether the "harem" is good or not. Because in all due respect, it's hard to make one unless you dabble into rom-coms and so many kinds of stories. Most harem stories bar one or two I'll cite has mostly cardboard cut out women when they make harem stories... I see a handful reverse harem that has good characterization but sucks on everything else. So there's a delicate balance on male/female author... So if you can characterize a character well it's not only the problem. Now you have to also make a believable reason for those women to love you. I assure you, it's so hard to make a believable way to make a character fall in love without being artificial. Especially in a harem novel. You'll have to be veeeeeery imaginative but also realistic to make it palatable (ironic but true)...


    Next would be the screentime of those heroines... That's why it's easier to just put them on one location and so like school, etc... As they are easier to write off and easier to dump if failed. But having a delicate balance of putting them enough influence on the story after their arc is done is quite hard. These are stemming from comments that they are being "tossed away" after their stories are concluded.

    Next is relationship dynamics... It's hard to put in the relationship of the would be sisters and their sole lover without a good #1 so good luck with that.

    Last but not the least is....... their use on the story. I know that it should be part of the characterization but this one has the most ticks on any harem novel... What is their use other than their jade legs, phoenix eyes, beauty mark, big a*s t*ts hips, etc when they are just a damn cardboard with no use other being harrassed by rich people just to be saved by MC as a damsel in distress... That's why "power couples" are mostly on monogamous love story as atleast you'll know they protect and has use for each other... A good relationship.


    So if you want a good harem story in urban setting... I suggest you can brush some good books first on many stories as it will help you alot on writing a believable harem story.


    PS:
    Passable Harem stories for me probably are Mushoku Tensei and Sevens... They're not perfect but they have a good blend of everything. But also this is what you can see, but i didn't put any urban setting harem novel yet. I have read plethora of urban harem novel, but there's not yet a single of it that can convince me that they are done well... And I've even MTL some to completion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
  8. asriu

    asriu fu~ fu~ fu~

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2016
    Messages:
    17,045
    Likes Received:
    16,688
    Reading List:
    Link
    CATFIGHT!
    no need to be bloody but once a while is ok~ more so if the harem member is truly capable one~ while sure there type get along imo unless really strong argument exist such as society and stuff bickering over numba one is logical~ on such society there exist hierarchy where numba one make law and order~


    hentai story is different stuff altogether
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  9. Darius Drake

    Darius Drake A poster of verbose posts

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2017
    Messages:
    1,005
    Likes Received:
    485
    Reading List:
    Link
    For my answer, the short version is simply female characters with good and interesting personalities that both continue after they join the harem (IF they join the harem, because that shouldn't be a requirement of the story), and interact with the other female characters in interesting ways.

    Amusingly, this "removal of personality" (because it is most certainly not "lost") is less of an issue in reverse harem novels. It can be argued, however, that in those the harem in question is rarely "legitimised" before the end of the story as a proper relationship, while the regular harem stories often have the relationship legitimised to the fact that additional girl joins the harem at the end of the arc introducing her. This is probably in relation to the focus of the story. Male dominated harem stories are typically about the guy in X, Y or Z situation, and the harem building is something that happens along the way, sometimes incidentally and often as "see pretty girl, help pretty girl, pretty girl is part of harem now and 'happy' because plot says so, so find new pretty girl". Yes, there can be more nuisance than this, particularly with the second option, but often the way the overarching plot and writing is presented can be boiled down to "I accidentally made myself a harem. I am grateful that the girls get along" or "I helped girls, so they're in my harem now".

    Three examples of what I consider to be good harems (or would be good harems, if the translation I had access to got that far) that I feel have seen, just to show that I am not just blowing smoke:

    - Risou no Himo Seikatsu - MC, while overworked and wanting a holiday, goes to another world willingly to marry a pretty Queen due to inheriting a bloodline magic that he knew nothing about, because he was on earth and we don't use magic. A few books/volumes in, the Queen in question is starting to worry because, despite him doing so much for her benefit subtly, she's basically going to have to force him to get at least one, if not two or three, concubines (aka give him a harem) due to social requirements, national requirements, and the current small size of the royal family. Also has a manga being scanlated, if you don't want to pay, that's at/near that point in the story.

    - The Last Endgame - MC and two friends decide to start playing a newly released VRMMO (which have been around for a while, with the MC playing a number previously) mostly to relax and avoid the types of shenanigans they used to do on a regular basis. The bigot of the group gets annoyed about the lack of actively seeking shenanigans and allowing people to get away, stomps off in the first few dozen chapters, and MC & remaining (gay) friend has a girl who grew up in a family with (from memory) 3 fathers & 2 mothers join them (polygamy is legal and encouraged in this world, though global warming caused ocean acidity increases has also killed off the ocean's fish). MC starts relationship with the girl, and first girl basically uses MC's accidental seductive abilities (it doesn't work on purpose, only on accident) to build the harem she wants, with MC essentially being a token male to the entire relationship, to a point where they joke about it in character.

    - Reaper of the Martial World - In the first 207 chapters (it's a cultivation story that I consider well written, but carries the cultivation novel's standard massive volume of chapters), the MC joins Cultivation School due to winning a challenge that was supposed to be impossible for him to succeed at, falls for a girl and ends up in a relationship with her, is whisked away to another world due to a situation arising, accidentally seduces and falls for a second girl, and is reunited with his female childhood friend from before the plot started. All three do end up as the MC's wives, with a few other girls over the 2000+ chapters currently posted, but they're interesting and the MC is comfortable with his wives going off and doing things on their own to have their joint plans for the future progress, or to just improve themselves. The story mainly focuses on the MC, understandably, but the wives have done things while the MC wasn't present that have advanced the plot just as much as the MC's actions, more in some cases. There's an entire arc that can be simplified down to, without spoilers, "Interesting plot and fights as MC trains himself and becomes stronger. If we look at Wife C for a moment, we can see that she's done X, situation Y has developed, and the results of that is Z, which actually drives the overarching plot further than anything MC has done this arc". Sure, this isn't exactly common, but the fact that it happens in a harem story is praise worthy.
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  10. Lissi

    Lissi 『Queen of Lissidom』『Holy Chibi』『Western Birdy』『⚓』

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2021
    Messages:
    3,297
    Likes Received:
    17,275
    Reading List:
    Link
    Everyone has their own story, I guess...? Like there's something unique/special about all of them!!
     
  11. Vermouth

    Vermouth Older but none the wiser.

    Joined:
    May 23, 2020
    Messages:
    191
    Likes Received:
    673
    Reading List:
    Link
    Reverse harem with all the guys having a different hair color.

    That's the only sort of harem I like.

    I also kind of prefer there being an actual male lead who comes out as the winner of the harem in the end.
     
  12. Fluffums

    Fluffums 【R-18 Researcher】【Seeker of Moe】

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    2,148
    Likes Received:
    3,351
    Reading List:
    Link
    I've written a few essays on the subject, but all you really need is two things:

    Remember that harem members are major characters instead of objects, and as such should have the necessary character development along the way.

    Think about how the protagonist, harem members, and society view the harem, and bring it together in a way that readers can accept (It's okay even if none of the characters in the story are OK with the harem as long as the readers understand how it happened).

    It would probably be helpful to you if you keep track of relationships between the harem members and have those change along the way, not just their relationships with the protagonist.
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  13. brigs11

    brigs11 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    455
    Reading List:
    Link
    One where characters are written well enough that you don't notice it's a harem until 500 chapters in where there's a sudden epiphany that the MC is surrounded by women and that it's actually a harem. For me, this was My Senior Brother is too Cautious.
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  14. lnv

    lnv ✪ Well-Known Hypocrite

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2017
    Messages:
    7,559
    Likes Received:
    8,763
    Reading List:
    Link
    One where the protagonist dies in the end, and all the harem members end up in a proper relationship with someone they deserve.

    Cause lets be honest, most harem protagonists aren't even well liked, why would anyone ever want their "best girl" to end up with someone like that?

    Other than that, if you actually want your protagonist alive for whatever reason, the most important thing is each harem member actually pulling their own weight and also having a life of their own. Aka, all the harem members shouldn't just drop their life just to follow the protagonist like a brainless tag along. Aka, they need a reason to follow the MC, and it shouldn't just be due to blind obsession with the MC just cause he saved them. There are other forms of relationships before moving to romantic ones, you know admiration, mutual goals, friendship and etc. Then over time they can evolve into romantic feelings.

    Effectively, the bar tests should be that if you make a spin off series for the harem members, people would actually be interested in their story. A lot of people seem to think character development somehow makes the character seem less 2D. But no, it actually has to be GOOD character development. So much so that a character can hold their own weight. Boring character development just makes the story worse.

    And the story should really keep away from "princess in distress syndrome". Characters should hold their own weight and help each other, not just MC rescuing everyone. The MC can also come to the rescue without actually doing everything. A person shouldn't be left with the idea of "how did this character live this long without the MC, can they even breath properly without the MC?"

    Characters should also be able to do things the MC can't. Not just the MC being able to do everything all the harem members can do combined. But better. Nor stupid things like MC can do everything everyone else can do but harem members have 1 small minor thing they can do better. No! MC can still be a great all rounder, but that doesn't mean he has to be an expert at everything. For example, an MC can have a good understanding of how a merchant works, but a harem member who grew up a merchant would be way more experienced than the MC

    Characters should also as mentioned have their own lives and goals, not just following the MC everywhere they go. This may also mean splitting up from the MC from time to time to achieve their goals.

    There should also be male characters and other people in relationships, not just everyone the MC ever meets being a girl and everyone else is just a wingman for the MC.
     
  15. ToastedRossi

    ToastedRossi Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2017
    Messages:
    2,926
    Likes Received:
    2,693
    Reading List:
    Link
    Aside from the regular character stuff, it's important that the relationships are inherently interesting, and that the author manages to find ways to keep them varied and involved. That said, be careful of harem stories in modern settings. I've seen a really good writer try to pull this off, and even though the characters were fantastic, and the dialogue was very good. But it never really works because the harem still ended up feeling forced and unnatural.
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  16. Baldingere

    Baldingere Roseau pensant

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2020
    Messages:
    1,496
    Likes Received:
    1,551
    Reading List:
    Link
    I generally don't read harem, but I liked Sevens a lot. His wives all had their own reasons to join him, they were party members, some fell for him, some feel indebted, others use him for political interest... All the main girls had their character & character growth and the side girls didn't get forgotten after a few chapters, they just got less limelight. And his relationship with the main girls was different to each of them, always interesting, they felt like a real family.
    Side-note, I like the trope where some of the girls are flirty with each other. Or lesbian couples inside the harem. A polyamourous vibe I guess.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021
    Rou, Ddraig and filimonviorelclaudiu like this.
  17. filimonviorelclaudiu

    filimonviorelclaudiu Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2017
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Reading List:
    Link
    Very good answers. Thanks a bunch, everyone. Some of the things you talked about I thought about them too, there were also some other tips, a lot actually, that gave me a new perspective and pointed out some things that I overlooked. This is and will be really helpful. Apreacitat it!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  18. Ddraig

    Ddraig Frostfire Dragon|Retired lurker|FFF|Loved by RNG

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2016
    Messages:
    7,637
    Likes Received:
    21,682
    Reading List:
    Link
    Multiple points but,
    1. One where the Main Character gets development and has a distinct personality.
    2. The girls are developed, have interactions amongst themselves and exist outside of MC
    3. The girls are willing to go against the mc if that is what is correct according to them
    4. Needs a best girl / waifu
    5. Optionally, atleast when it comes to older titles, a solid bro character.
    6. A lack of lolis, or atleast no lewding them.
    7. The story/arcs have a good plot outside of the "plot"
    8. MC crossdressing once in a while >.>
    Incest is cool and all but too much focus on it often ruins the series for me tbh. I think I prefer harems that dont have siblings in it.
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  19. sprawi

    sprawi Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2021
    Messages:
    11
    Likes Received:
    1
    Reading List:
    Link
    If the harem members aren't 'forgotten' by the author as the story progresses :D
     
    filimonviorelclaudiu likes this.
  20. Ddraig

    Ddraig Frostfire Dragon|Retired lurker|FFF|Loved by RNG

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2016
    Messages:
    7,637
    Likes Received:
    21,682
    Reading List:
    Link
    I really like it when it is done well >.<. But it is a rare trope, atleast one where they are explicitly flirting. Most of the time you get just hints that essentially just them being great friends (which too is nice, especially when they both hated each others guts at the start of the series)
     
    Baldingere likes this.