Candles in the Dark

CandlesWriting evil characters has always been a passion of mine. In my not-so-humble opinion, the most boring enemies are the ones that are portrayed as evil for no other reason than to be evil. There is no urgency or sense of purpose with an enemy that is essentially just doing things for no discernible reason. I also don’t consider mental illness, in and of itself, a valid reason for doing anything, and I get frustrated with stories built around someone doing something because of whatever chemical balance they might have. It is unimaginative.

Everyone has a motivation for what they do. The only difference between a “good guy” and a “bad guy” is what side of that motivation “line” they fall on. That is not to say that there are not truly and completely horrible people out there; truly evil ones. I do not play devil’s advocate for the sake of playing devil’s advocate to excuse the monsters of actual history for any reason. However, when I’m writing, I like to know what makes my “bad guys” tick.

What I like is having an antagonist that I can get behind. I want to be able to look at different perspectives. The best enemies are the ones that, when everything is taken from their side of the motivational line, have a perfectly legit reason for doing whatever they’re doing. It is not simply that they have an “evil laugh” or shifty eyes. The best is when they truly believe in what they’re doing, and if you were reading the novel from their perspective, you wouldn’t fault them for what they’re doing at all.

I have one character in my short fictions who is a knight for a deranged king. The king was driven insane by the grief of losing his only child. In his delusion, he believed that she was not dead, merely kidnapped, and the conspiracy to keep her away from him had roots everywhere. The knight is incredibly loyal to his king. He remembers when his king was a good man, and he believes that it his duty to try and help the king, do the king’s bidding, even if it means that he does some things that hurt others. He’s also a very religious man. At one point, he has to destroy a temple to convince a very devote and powerful priestess to come and try to heal the king. In his reasoning, he knows what he is doing is evil, yet this is his duty so he does it. It makes him such an interesting character to write the internal monologue and stream of consciousness for.

All such characters my candles in the dark. Just because they are the “bad guys” doesn’t necessarily make them “bad”. I find fiction far more interesting when there are complex gray tones instead of black and white. It’s what I try to achieve in my antagonists.

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