Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Good, The Bad, and The Murky
I don't like straight good guys/gals, and I don't like straight bad guys/gals. I believe all characters have to have a little bit of both. The villian who is just bad for badness sake isn't very interesting to me. However, give me a villian who believes he's been wronged, or has very clear cut motivation other than pure world domination and you've given me a compelling character that I may not like, but I may be able to understand. And this mirror of good/bad in all characters can take on different degrees or actions depending on the story. I like getting into my villians' heads to see what started them on the path to villiany.
In The Host: Shadows, Benito Achilles is driven by love. It's a twisted, almost sadistic form of love, but it is love nonetheless. His complusion to make Tristain St. Blaise into an immortal like himself caused him to do things that are considered evil, but not to him. He saw it as being Tristain's savior.
In The Last Keeper, High Mage Master Grandoneir wanted to take over the Angloria Provinces, but only after the Council of Keepers to the Orb of Time blocked him from bringing his particular magic skills into the Provinces. He proposed balance. They gave him a war.
In my current WIP, Love Thy Neighbor, Lex believes that Cassidy broke her promise to him when she went into hiding and left him behind. He fails to realize that by physically abusing her when they were together, he had already broken his promise to love her.
With my heroes and heroines, I try to tread the same slim ledge, though they will always come down on the side of good. But I don't think the knight in shining armor, or the dude in the white hat needs to have every single thought and action be pure as the driven snow. I prefer to have my heroes and heroines with a few dark thoughts, or not so perfect. Perfect is boring, and boring loses readers. It also has a propensity to make me not want to write them anymore.
In Love Thy Neighbor, Rafe Santini is a detective with a womanizing reputation. He's also so over the moon for the heroine he can't help but put his big ol' foot in his mouth whenever she's near him.
In The Host: Shadows, Tristain St. Blaise is a hit man who only executes contracts on people who hurt the innocent. The dark half of his personality is put to good use against those who prey on people with the inability to protect themselves.
In A Conspiracy of Ravens, Sister Gloriana is sent to the enemy's camp among the Colstan army by her High Adept as little more than a spy. It must be understood that Gloriana's sister is the Queen of the country fighting the Colstans, and the Sisters of Prymaria, of whom Gloriana is a member, are a political neutral. And though she hates the Colstans for all they've done to the continent, she begins to see them as men, soliders and worthy of her loyalty and alliegence.
So, character values. Yeah, you have to have them. But it's the degree in which you use them that makes them compelling or one-dimensional. It's what brings them to life or makes them fall flat. Not everyone can be a martyr and not everyone is a sinner. Characters should reflect that dichtomy. And when they do, it makes for very good reading.
Posted by Kathleen Scott/MK Mancos at 1:31 PM