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 Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT! #Writing #Characters

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Lora
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Age : 48
Join date : 2011-07-26
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Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT! #Writing #Characters Empty
PostSubject: Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT! #Writing #Characters   Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT! #Writing #Characters EmptyTue Jul 29, 2014 3:08 pm

JULY 16, 2014 by K.M. WEILAND | @KMWEILAND 42 COMMENTSCHARACTERS


Maybe Your Bad Guy Is RIGHT!


How do you know if you’ve written a good bad guy? There are many possible qualifiers. He’s scary. He’s hatable. He’s a formidable obstacle to the protagonist’s goal. All of which are valid. But today what I’m talking about is the kind of bad guy who isn’t black and white. He’s solidly the hero of his own story, to the point he deepens the theme by compelling the protagonist—and even the reader—to see things his way, if only briefly.


Here’s a little exercise for you. Write a scene in which your antagonist is confronting your protagonist about their central difference in beliefs. The good guy believes stealing is wrong; the bad guy justifies it. On the surface, that’s a pretty black and white discussion, and of course readers are going to side with the protagonist and think the bad guy is load of tripe.
But what if he’s not? What if he’s right? Or, better put, what if you could make readers think he’s right?
I want you write this scene as if you believe every word the bad guy is saying. Explain his point of view so completely and compellingly that you make readers wonder if, hey, maybe he has a point. Your protagonist should wonder too. He should stand there, gun lowered, mouth agape, experiencing a feeling of panic: I never thought about it that way before! What if he’s right? What if everything I’ve believed and have been fighting for all this time is wrong?
Naturally, I’m not campaigning for a repeal of the laws on stealing. Neither am I suggesting you encourage readers to believe stealing is the right thing to do. What I’m saying is that if you can infuse a high level of honesty and realism into your antagonist’s worldview, you can create the kind of theme and conflict that will provoke readerly thoughts all over the place.
Readers can always tell when you’re not fully investing in a character—especially when that character is a “bad” one. Even if you find the bad guy generally repulsive, you need to be able to put yourself so thoroughly into his shoes while you’re writing him that, just for those moments, you almost believe his slant yourself.
If you can accomplish that, the threat against the protagonist will be stronger. The theme will grow deeper and more faceted. And reader investment will skyrocket. Give it a try!

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