Seldom do we find a truly rotten individual as the main character of a story. They are generally mostly good, with enough foibles to make them believable—in modern fiction, anyway. Dickens and Jane Eyre and their contemporaries created characters whose souls were as pure as rainwater, which provided a stark contrast to all the nefarious players. But how many of yesteryears’ lead characters were the devil incarnate? We like our evil, thank you very much, but something awful must happen to them or we feel outraged, cheated, discouraged.
As a reader, I identify with fleshed-out protagonists—the more quirks, the better. Does this say something about my own personality? Perhaps. Or maybe it has more to do with observing and getting to know people. In real life, there are very few among us who are good down to their toes—saints, if you will.
As a writer, imperfections are the mainstay of my trait arsenal. I carefully build my lead characters, then spill tomato juice down the front of their shirts, metaphorically speaking. Some will put on a jacket to hide the stain; others ignore it and carry on as if it isn’t there. Either way, characters with flaws are much more appealing. They are perhaps easier to root for, and they are easier for us ordinary folk to relate to.
In some philosophies, good cannot exist without evil. I believe this true for literature as well. Even if the villain is dire circumstances, it is essential for the drama it creates. There is no story without conflict.
Delving into the third book in the Madeline Dawkins series, I’ve got some interesting baddies that I’m in the process of developing. One is especially creepy because he’s the kind of villain who is able to pass himself off as “the nicest guy in the world.” Oh yes, it’s going to be lots of fun constructing this monster, and challenging to beat him at his own game. Madeline and Mike are going to have their work cut out for them, on both cases. And so will I…
And speaking of Madeline, the second book in the series, “A High Price to Pay” is available today for FREE downloading at the link below. There are some very nasty villains in this one!
Until next time,