|The author, Dane F. Baylis|
THE GOOD IN THE EVIL
TO PARAPHRASE: IF YOU CAN'T WRITE ABOUT THE ONE YOU LOVE, LOVE THE ONE YOU WRITE ABOUT.
You've decided on your Main Character and he/she is all sweetness and light and just so NIIIIIICE! This is Robin Hood, The Lone Ranger, (not the new one, the TV version), and Superman all rolled into one. Then you construct an antagonist who is all things evil. I mean Satan, Genghis Khan, Hitler, Stalin, and your third grade teacher. Not one saving grace in there, period.
Have you set off down the road for the ultimate confrontation? Is this to be the prequel to Armageddon? Do you feel that what you're embarking on could be the hottest thing since the introduction of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse facing off with the Avengers?
Whoa there. Let's take a close look at what might be the real results.
Remember what we said about balancing characters a few installments back? That, in order for your audience to make the kind of connection that draws them in, they have to be able to relate to your characters? If you give them ultimate good versus ultimate evil then you've closed the story before starting it. They expect the good guys to win and, if there's no glimmer of humanity somewhere in the Dark Side...Why should they care if they lose or not?
You have to bring in the complexities in order to lure your readers into the game. If everything runs by the White Hats v. Black Hats Playbook then there isn't any reason to hang around. Good guys need weaknesses that bring into doubt their abilities and motives and bad guys need those humanizing traits, that love of poetry and kittens thing, that makes the audience think, maybe redemption lurks in the wings and the universe can be put in balance without galaxy rending warfare.
If you're like me, you love the Noir. Those tales in which nobody is clean, everybody has dirt to hide, and the good guy may turn out to be a real schmuck. You know...LIFE! Let's face it, Gandhi wouldn't have been near as interesting a character had he not taken on colonial England. Darth Vader would just be a bully if he hadn't first been Anakin Skywalker. Even King Arthur falls to his own vanity.
So, no matter how evil, despicable, and mean spirited your villain, take some time to give them a hug and find the soft spot. When it comes to heroes, remember that they just might be the person who pilfered your yogurt from the communal fridge at work. In other words...LOVE ALL YOUR CHARACTERS...even the ones we're supposed to hate.
Meanwhile...live, love, write.
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Dane F. Baylis