Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Says Good People Aren't All That Great

Hear me out on this one.

I think people feel like they have to write archetypes. You know, old men are either wise or grumpy. The bad guys are despicable. The good guys are saints.

While archetypes are cool and everything, they're essentially limiting. They're stencils. You can use them, sparingly, but wouldn't you rather have a painting, or a sculpture?

J.K. Rowling's new book The Casual Vacancy gave me the idea for this post. The characters in her new novel aren't essentially good or bad. Their role depends on the situation. They're all the antagonists and the protagonists because they all are living different stories. To different people, they represent different things.
When making a character, don't get caught up in making them likable, or creating a better version of yourself. Not everyone will like your character. Some people will probably hate them, and those people will usually have reasons for this, even if those reasons are strange, or nonsensical. Our own grudges don't seem nonsensical to us, so why would they to an antagonist?

Your character doesn't have to be objectively good or bad. It's more fun if they're a little bit of both.