Forum: Prospective Challenges

Discussing: Bad guys... good guys?

Bad guys... good guys?

As is the case with all stories we love, we are presented with a struggle against "good and evil" (to put it that way), and so we are craftily led by the author to sympathize with either side, creating in our minds the notions of what is good/bad according to the author's perspective -and ours.

I thought it would be interesting to explore the other side of the picture; what would things feel like for those characters who are considered as "bad"? Surely they do not view themselves as bad, they only take choices according to their needs/ambitions, which could be good, or seem good to them. And, of course, the good character (good for us) is bad for them. It would be sort of a role reversal. For instance, what do the Haradrim think about Gondorians? These people cause them harm and dwindle their numbers as well (not to mention those very well-trained mumaks that might cost so much to bring up); they might keep them shut out from good trading opportunities and prevent them from enjoying many other profits. What reasons could they have for siding with Sauron?

Another example would be Grima. We all hate him, of course (I know I do) but, have we considered what things have been like for him, or try to see things from his point of view? Other "villains" would be the corsairs of Umbar, descendants of Castamir. These people feel they've been wronged, and so have a "reason" (valid, if only in their own minds) for opposing Gondor and its wars. Or, perhaps, Wulf and his people, who received a refusal from Helm when requesting his daughter's hand in marriage.

As the aforecited, there are numberless examples where the bad guy could be seen as the good guy, provided that the point of view is changed and we get a glimpse of what it's like to be in the other's shoes. I realize this may be a tough one to write, and perhaps I have not phrased the idea correctly. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this one, but I think it could make a very interesting challenge. To make a long tale short, the challenge would be to write the antagonistic character's point of view, making it the main focus of the story and trying to make it believable, or trying to draw the reader into liking him/her a bit more, or at least, understanding the reasons behind the actions (which so far remain unexplained for us, or at least, partly) So, what do you say, should we give the bad guys a break?

 

 

Re: Bad guys... good guys?

It'd be a good exercise, I think. Sort of the flipside of writing the flaws of the good guys, as someone noted. I think maybe we could combine the two--what do you think? We could present a unified "Janus" challenge--on the one hand, you could write a canonical character's bad points (real bad points, the ugly, real faults); on the other, you could try to write the bad guys sympathetically, showing their good qualities (even if they are put to wrong ends) and motivations.

 

 

Re: Bad guys... good guys?

Sounds good to me. I'm trying very hard to be a good girl and start no more multi-chapter stories 'till I finish the first, so I might not be able to participate (though, hey, maybe I could fit that into a vignette... hmmm).

One of the most interesting bits of slash I've seen is an Eomer/Grima piece on ff.net that does both these things at once, making Grima more sympathetic without changing his basic nature, and showing a flawed Eomer who is still noble and good. Maybe this could be an option as well? to do both at once?

Or would that be an assumed option?

 

 

Re: Bad guys... good guys?

Dwim wrote:
"I think maybe we could combine the two--what do you think?... on the one hand, you could write a canonical character's bad points... on the other, you could try to write the bad guys sympathetically"

Yes, I think that would work well, and would leave writers a broad margin in which to craft their stories, since they could go either way, unless the challenge's wording specifically reads that both ends should be accomplished at once, which could also be an option.



Shadow wrote:
"One of the most interesting bits of slash I've seen is an Eomer/Grima piece on ff.net that does both these things at once, making Grima more sympathetic without changing his basic nature, and showing a flawed Eomer who is still noble and good."

This explains what I wanted to say a bit further. I once read a story that starts at the point when Faramir's rangers ambush the haradrim and the mumak appears and all that. Sam stumbles across the corpse of one of these men, and as he looks at him, he tries to dicover what could have driven such a man to war; he thinks about the family that he has left behind, the wealth or poverty, the background of this fellow. And, as he is watching him, he discovers that this man carries a journal; Sam takes it and starts to read it. Then, we see the story unfold from the man's perspective, his perspective of the war. In this view, he is a good man, and the bad guys are those who attack/oppose/make war against him; perhaps he has been driven to war to defend his family, and that is a worthy end by itself, even though he makes war against the forces of good (but, he does not know this; or, what is good, after all?) I thought that was incredibly original and open-minded, and, as Dwim points out, it would be a good writing excercise.

 

 

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