(Sooooo I realized I’m going to need to take more campus pictures or something. I’ve mined a bunch of pictures from this one particular folder. But if I’m gonna keep up with posting photos, then I’m going to need a lot more pictures. What have I gotten myself into? Anyway, don’t steal this picture. Because I’d rather not have it stolen.)
What comes to mind when you hear “good” and “evil” in the same sentence?
I bet you think the phrase “good versus evil” is pretty cheesy, along with everything associated with it.
And in a lot of ways, you’re right. It’s the result of every awful TV show, movie, and book being advertised as “the most epic battle of good versus evil! Don’t miss it!”
Good against evil is a classic literary theme. Don’t count it out just because some crappy thing you’ve seen or read abused the phrase. Have you ever seen the movie Aladdin? Any Star Wars movie? Have you read or seen The Lord of the Rings trilogy? All battles of good fighting evil.
It’s unavoidable. There’s probably something you like that is good versus evil in some form. It may even be a children’s book you read long ago.
Pitting the forces of good against the usually more powerful evil people is pretty cool to witness. It’s awesome to see the plucky hero triumph through determination and maybe a bit of luck, even though (s)he is clearly outnumbered.
Everybody wants to root for a good guy. (But sometimes it’s fun to root for the bad guy. More on that in another blog post.)
So try not to be so judgmental the next time you see “good vs. evil.” Yeah, it’s probably another crappy mini-series. That’s inevitable.
But that doesn’t mean you should avoid writing about it. It’s a pretty good exercise in seeing what you value and what your characters are made of.
And it’s also fun to write clever heroes and dastardly villains. I’ve been writing a villain today, and I gotta say it’s pretty fun. I love characters that are misunderstood or at least a little bit crazy. Those are my niche when it comes to writing characters. They seem so much more fleshed-out and real than “normal” people. So I end up seeing a lot of psychological issues and trauma in my short stories and poems. They’re often some of my best work. Don’t count out the crazies and evil characters, whether they’re a good foil for a hero or not.
Heroes and villains don’t have to be cliché. They need flaws in order to be interesting. Maybe that’s your problem with heroes. Or maybe your problem with villains is that their flaws are so big and obvious that they’re easy to defeat. If you don’t like reading characters like that, then write characters that you do like reading about.
Isn’t that an easy solution? If you don’t like the way something is portrayed in any form of media, then just write it how you think it should be done.
Your assignment: Write a short story where a hero finds something really unusual in his or her small hometown. This unusual object somehow leads him to finding out that a sinister person is planning something bad to happen to the town. Remember, the hero doesn’t always have to win. 😉 Try to make your characters as three-dimensional as you can. If you wouldn’t want to read about them, then why would your readers?