Sunday, July 24, 2022

Playing Favourites

Which side of the fence are you most comfortable writing from, the good, the bad, or the ugly? Do you consider one side or the other more marketable?

Brenda starting off the week.

What a good question. This reminds me of actors saying that while they like playing 'good' characters, they love acting as the downright evil ones.

I'm comfortable writing whatever character I'm working on because I don't see them as all good or all bad. Even the bad ones have moments of regret or humanity, and the good ones can make errors in judgment or let others down -- "Nobody's perfect," as I used to tell my students when I taught special education. (I had them add, "except Ms. Chapman, but that's a story for another day :-) Fictional characters included.

The trick, I think, is getting into the head of whatever character has the stage, and more often than not, they start to reveal themselves on the page. I like the good characters, flaws and all, but am also intrigued by the nasty and ugly ones. I've created a few narcissists (some verging on psychopathic) and it's fun to give them some rope to see how far they'll go in the story.

As to which is more marketable, every book or story needs conflict and this starts with the characters. Readers need to root for those good ones and they can only be 'good' if there are bad characters to cause them grief or to tempt them to the dark side. I read once that the heroes needs opponents equal to themselves - a worthy adversary like Batman facing the Joker. Overcoming the evil is then worth something.

There are movies and stories where a truly evil or flawed person is the main character and the plot revolves around them. I'm thinking of The Talented Mr. Ripley or even Gone With the Wind, where Scarlett really isn't the nicest of people. Both were highly marketable and these are only a couple of examples. I'm not sure that readers or moviegoers would want a steady diet of evil anti-heroes though. Most appear to want a happy or satisfying ending, such as in those Christmas Hallmark movies.

I kind of like writing happy endings ... although not always for every character. Just don't kill the dog, as my friend Darlene likes to say. On this point, we both agree.


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Dietrich Kalteis said...

You're so right, Brenda. It's about getting into the head of whichever character has the stage.

Brenda Chapman said...

thanks Dietrich :-)