Why do we write what we write? (IWSG)
Posted on November 5, 2020

When my brother finished reading the 3rd-to-last chapter in the The Box Of Souls, he called me up and said, "But... why?" He was angry because of a death of one of his favorite characters. "How could you do that?" 

I assured him that there was a reason, and to finish the story to find out what it was. And so he did, and he loved it. So much so that he kept bugging me about the 2nd book until it finally came out. The fact that my brother was angry at me after reading that chapter was pure and utter joy for me. I could not stop smiling for days.

As writers, we love to incite intense emotion. I especially love making you feel conflicted. Good guys can sometimes behave badly, and bad guys can do good things. Good people die of cancers, and bad people can have long lives. I want you to feel sympathy for the antagonist, feel his or her pain and sorrow and understand why they are the way they are. And I want you to be occasionally annoyed with the protagonist, because sometimes they can be mean and have horrible knee-jerk reactions. 

George R.R. Martin said it perfectly, "Nobody is a villain in their own story. We're all the heroes of our own stories."

The word antagonist, by definition, doesn't mean "bad guy." A quick search online produced the following definition for antagonist: "a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary." Heck... in a tennis match my opponent is the antagonist, from my point of view. In his story, I'm the antagonist. Similarly, in the villains world, the protagonist is the antagonist.

A lot of readers don't like this. They hate feeling empathy towards the "bad guy", but sometimes this happens. Not everything is black and white, lots of things are gray. I won't make everyone happy, so I might as well go ahead and write my complex characters. And if it upsets readers, well then I'm sorry.

But... I'm also NOT sorry. 😉


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2 comments:

  1. Sorry...not sorry. That's a good way of putting it. Besides if the antagonist was written as the typical and cliched big bad, evil guy/woman, would make for some boring reading.

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