It's Community week! And this week was have a great guest post from author Steve Evans. I connected to Steve through Twitter and read his Sci-Fi book "Minutia" and was immediately impressed. Steve's intelligence was obvious through the story he'd written and the characters were engaging and well thought through. The story itself was a great read with a fun premise and a lot of action. Steve has only published one novel as of present but I eagerly look forward to more by him. If you want to check out Steve's work you can find him on Amazon and Goodreads.
I also highly suggest you follow Steve on Twitter, where I promise you will be entertained by his witty humor. Without any further delay, Steve Evan's guest post.
On Morally Gray Characters in Fiction.
The writing process is a lot like the bathroom process. It can be painful at times. It can be onerous and time-consuming. And talking about the details to your friends can cost you said friends.
Or so I’ve been told.
So I’m not going to talk about writing. Instead, I’m going to focus on something we all have in common; the love of a great story.
The reason I write is the same as the reason I read...because a great story is the best kind of addiction. But what makes a great story?
For me, it’s just like a great cake; all in the layers. And the best layers are made up characters. And just like cake, if characters are made right, things are gonna get messy.
A great story shows you someone that you could see looking out your own mirror in the morning. None of us wakes up and says, “I’m going to be the absolute worst version of myself today.” We don’t strive to be horrible parents, employees, or human beings. But there are horrible parents, employees, and human beings. We all perceive the world through a slightly different framework. The best stories aren’t the ones that show us a lens into a different world, but the ones that show us the world through a different lens.
My all-time favorite imaginary friend is Harry Dresden from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. If you haven’t read these books, go quit your job and start binging these things right now* (*disclaimer: never take employment advice from a writer).
This is one of the greatest heroes ever put to paper. Not because he always strives to the right thing, or because he’s the quintessential underdog, or because he’s so great at running his mouth, even though all these things are true. It’s because his idea of “the right thing” is colored by his own flawed framework. His own broken history and the injustices of his life. This is a hero with some blood on his hands. Someone who has to live with the choices he’s made, and that we get to watch wrestle with the consequences in his ongoing arc.
Villains are no different. The most recent Spider-man gave us a great look at a deep, layered villain in the Vulture. Keaton’s character wasn’t some despicable human being that’s easy to hate. I didn’t want to dislike this guy. He was a good dad, a hard worker. Yeah, he took some alien tech and turned it into weapons. But he wasn’t the first to do this. The good guys beat him to it. And he only made this dark call after he’d been screwed over and backed into a corner. He crosses some lines, but from his perspective it’s clear why. He can point to each of the heroes in his world and reference a body count for each of them in the thousands. When we meet his family and see things through his lens, we don’t want to hate him. We can understand the chain of decisions that got him to where he is. And not all his decisions are bad ones. He takes steps to mitigate harm. He seeks to protect his family. He’s able to see the others side, and does not bend on his convictions. Them there are layers.
Now if you’ll excuse me, all these analogies have made me realize I need to go see a guy about some cake…
Stephen C. Evans
Follow me on Twitter: @CØØLpenNAME