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Discussing: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

All right! This must be something like a record--two new challenges in just about as many days. Kewl.

This is the "write your favorite character's really existing inexcusable mundane flaw/write your favorite villain's really existing incomprehensible virtue" challenge.

Come here with your ideas, your comments, your grouses, your questions.

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

...write your favorite villain's really existing incomprehensible virtue

Does it have to be incomprehensible? I don't really understand what you mean by that. I preferred the earlier definition:

2) Pick your personal favorite villain--write the story that centers on a really existing *good* trait (aesthetic sensibility, love for a wife or husband/pet/child, loyalty, etc.) without at the same time making him or her any less the villain that s/he is in terms of his/her other actions.

Tavia

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

The actual Challenge text retains the original wording. As to what I mean by incomprehensible, I mean that when someone has given him/herself over to willfully harming others (Mafia assassins, dictators, etc.) and they *know* that what they are doing is causing pain and suffering, I find it deeply incomprehensible in one sense how such a person could really love another person or feel loyalty or what have you. How would you hold the two sides together in any genuine manner? This could just be me, however, and it only applies to the extremes (villains), not to people in general. M-e has some pretty extreme villains, however....

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

I mean that when someone has given him/herself over to willfully harming others (Mafia assassins, dictators, etc.) and they *know* that what they are doing is causing pain and suffering, I find it deeply incomprehensible in one sense how such a person could really love another person or feel loyalty or what have you.

Heh. Whereas to me, that gets at the very core of our humanity. Not, of course, that I think the core of our humanity is our willingess to harm others, but rather that at our core is a profound ability to hold opposing forces in our hearts. What seems incomprehensible to me are the people who cannot feel love or loyalty, not that those who do can also inflict terrible cruelty.

I think Walt Whitman said it most succinctly:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
(I am large—I contain multitudes.)


Cheers, y'all!
-Rachel

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

What 'extreme' villains do you see this applying to as far as Tolkien's world goes? Okay, perhaps Sauron and Saruman should have known better, but I don't think anyone below them can be considered to be evil. They're just on the wrong side, and the way of life they've been born to has a different moral code to ours, hence they're the 'bad' guys. How could an Orc be expected to know that he should be respecting and cherishing other beings? Where's he going to have learned that? Is he to be condemned for following what he has been taught? For not complying with a moral code he knows nothing about as opposed to following the way of life of his people, as they have been for thousands of years?
I can see plenty of admirable traits in Ugluk to bring out, it may be more difficult to do Eomer because he's not a character who's been close to my heart. I'll need to get to know him better. I did think of doing Theoden instead, but I rather think that might be too easy since he is an obviously flawed man.

Since this is now a challenge, do we have to put placeholders, or can we just add when we're ready. Never been present at the birth of a challenge before.

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

I have to agree with you here Shadow. We all have to justify hurting others (to a greater or lesser degree) everyday otherwise life would be impossible. Whether it's driving to work because it's more convenient than taking the train, despite knowing we're polluting the planet, or buying tea/coffee/chocolate even though the raw product is more than likely produced by slave labour. Or going to war and killing people. Each person has their own personal moral code, usually a subset of that in the society around them, which they use to justify their actions. One person might consider killing anyone wrong, another that it's okay if you're at war, or if you're executing a criminal.
I think that's one of the reasons that dictators often become 'evil', because little by little, they can justify more and more extreme acts to themselves, and nobody around them stands up and says 'this is wrong' or if they do it's too late because he's already justified killing dissenters! Even the great dictators of our age Stalin, Hitler, Saddam, started off doing good things for their countries.

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

What 'extreme' villains do you see this applying to as far as Tolkien's world goes?

Ack! The Kirixchi post was me (Dwim)... we're having a little identity crisis.

I do think immediately of Sauron, Morgoth, Saruman, any Warg/Maiar incarnate as evil, the Mouth of Sauron, and Orcs. Not saying there can't be splits in the human/divine mind, but to really understand how someone holds that great a division of good and evil together is something that I find difficult, and in a way, not comprehensible. Rather as madness isn't really comprehensible by definition. There are ways and ways of showing the individual living with that split, but regardless of how well it's done, there remains an incompatibility that can't really be grasped, though it can be thought, IMO.

Nrg. Too late to go into this discussion.

Since this is now a challenge, do we have to put placeholders, or can we just add when we're ready. Never been present at the birth of a challenge before.

I'm sure there's a witty pun to be had here, with "birth of a challenge" but it's escaping me at the moment. If you check "Challenges: Announcements", you'll find the rules on place-holders. I've also stuck those rules in the FAQ on challenges, and they got posted (and swiftly buried) on the list.

As a general rule, add when you're ready to add--unless you're coming up on a deadline, the Challenge isn't going anywhere. It's when you know the deadline draws near and you *still* don't have your piece written, that I would say consider whether you want to put in a place-holder.

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Aren't we just!?
Messages 5708 and 5709 were both mine!! Let me see if I can 'cut and paste' them as my real self , then the people I unwittingly impostered can delete the originals.

(two of me is bad enough, now I am four!!)

Enros

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

What 'extreme' villains do you see this applying to as far as Tolkien's world goes? Okay, perhaps Sauron and Saruman should have known better, but I don't think anyone below them can be considered to be evil. They're just on the wrong side, and the way of life they've been born to has a different moral code to ours, hence they're the 'bad' guys. How could an Orc be expected to know that he should be respecting and cherishing other beings? Where's he going to have learned that? Is he to be condemned for following what he has been taught? For not complying with a moral code he knows nothing about as opposed to following the way of life of his people, as they have been for thousands of years?
I can see plenty of admirable traits in Ugluk to bring out, it may be more difficult to do Eomer because he's not a character who's been close to my heart. I'll need to get to know him better. I did think of doing Theoden instead, but I rather think that might be too easy since he is an obviously flawed man.

Since this is now a challenge, do we have to put placeholders, or can we just add when we're ready. Never been present at the birth of a challenge before.

Enros

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Heh. Whereas to me, that gets at the very core of our humanity. Not, of course, that I think the core of our humanity is our willingess to harm others, but rather that at our core is a profound ability to hold opposing forces in our hearts. What seems incomprehensible to me are the people who cannot feel love or loyalty, not that those who do can also inflict terrible cruelty.

Actually I can understand both quite well, which may say something deeply worrying about my psyche...

I think Walt Whitman said it most succinctly:

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
(I am large—I contain multitudes.)


Fabulous! Where's that from, Rachel?

Tavia

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

I have to agree with you here Shadow. We all have to justify hurting others (to a greater or lesser degree) everyday otherwise life would be impossible. Whether it's driving to work because it's more convenient than taking the train, despite knowing we're polluting the planet, or buying tea/coffee/chocolate even though the raw product is more than likely produced by slave labour. Or going to war and killing people. Each person has their own personal moral code, usually a subset of that in the society around them, which they use to justify their actions. One person might consider killing anyone wrong, another that it's okay if you're at war, or if you're executing a criminal.
I think that's one of the reasons that dictators often become 'evil', because little by little, they can justify more and more extreme acts to themselves, and nobody around them stands up and says 'this is wrong' or if they do it's too late because he's already justified killing dissenters! Even the great dictators of our age Stalin, Hitler, Saddam, started off doing good things for their countries.

 

 

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Attention all:

There've been a number of ID switches going on here. Ang, our poor harried tech support, is trying to figure this out but needs data. LOTS of it.

So if you notice you've switched IDs with someone, note the person, note what you were doing, when you were doing it, and then e-mail Ang at

HATechSupport@henneth-annun.net with that info.

Log out of HASA, then log back in. That *should* restore you to your proper ID.

Until then, check your ID whenever you post in forums (seems to be a common place for switching to occur... God that sounds scandalous and risqué), and sign your name at the bottom to avoid confusion if a switch does occur.

Thanks for your help and patience,

Dwim

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

This is all very interesting. Amazing to see how a little nuzgul can generate such a thought-provoking discussion. My feeling is that this challenge forces us to look at things under a different light, despite of which of the two alternatives we chose to write, and makes us stretch our views a little so we can understand the other side better. As a writing exercise, I think it is great; but, also, as a sort of mental... well... exercise, for lack of another word (sorry, it is quite late and I should be sleeping, but found that I just can't! Must read, must read!)

Anyway, about our villains... My view is that they are villains because they antagonize with those whom we think heroes. But, if we switch places, our now-called heroes might become villains (this, of course, does not apply to "all" the villains, but, perhaps, to some of them maybe?)... which messes up things, but can also add a lot of flavor to our writing. Don't you think this is all great? If we can make these bad guys sympathetic... I mean, it will be quite rewarding, right?

I like Lyllyn's idea of the Ugluk/Eomer fic. I hope you do continue with that. I think it holds great potential for what the challenge looks for, and, at the least, it will give you a new view on Eomer with the research you'll do to write him.

I had thought about writing something from the Haradrim's POV, but... will see what comes out of it. Anyway, hope to keep hearing all your views on this, especially with such interesting ones to read already!

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

I like Lyllyn's idea of the Ugluk/Eomer fic. I hope you do continue with that. I think it holds great potential for what the challenge looks for, and, at the least, it will give you a new view on Eomer with the research you'll do to write him.
Actually, I think that was Enros, who was ID-swapped with me at the time.

I have the interesting problem of writing flaws in Glorfindel or good points of the Witch-king. If I'm really clever I'll figure out a way to do it at the Battle of Fornost where both are present.

Lyllyn (even though I realize the site just turned me into Dwim again.)

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

This identity crisis is sure making things more complicated, right?

Then, I must say, that I like Enros' idea of Eomer/Ugluk, and Lyllyn's idea of Glorfindel/Witch-King. Have you found the right flaw for the golden-haired? I have the feeling it might be a bit difficult to find the good points of the Witch-king but... well, at least he loves his precious! Maybe he just fell into Sauron's company in the first place because he thought he needed the power to protect his kingdom or something. Good luck with that piece! Btw, will you have Arvedui at the battle?

Starlight
(how come it is that I don't get identity switch?

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Starlight, you are welcome to take a few of my alter-egos at this point.



Interestingly I think it will be easier to find good points for the Witch-king than flaws for Glorfindel.

The few Witch-king bits I have done assume that he started out as a callow Numenorean lordling, given land to rule if he could pacify it. Arrogant and overly confident, he discovers it is not so simple. He does have good intent in a patronizing way toward the 'natives' but is in way over his head, and accepts the ring as the answer to his problems. Poor sod.

Finding flaws is harder. Have you any thoughts on this? All welcome.

Btw, will you have Arvedui at the battle? I don't think he was there, I believe he had already died. Earnur was there.

Lyllyn (not Dwim)

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Fabulous! Where's that from, Rachel?

It's from Leaves Of Grass, section 51. Parts of that (like section 6) never fail to bring tears to my eyes. The last stanza is lovely, too, and you've probably heard it:

Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged;
Missing me one place, search another;
I stop somewhere, waiting for you.

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

This is an interesting challenge... can't wait to see the entries.

Does anybody think that Turin Turambar could function as the antagonist? And maybe Tuor as the protagonist?

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Thanks, Lyllyn. Sure making things clearer now. Could I borrow some of your witch-king-ly traits for my witch-king in "Alliance"? He seems to be quite the kind of person that would end up as a ringwraith... poor thing!
Flaws for Glorfindel... I'm still musing about that one...
What I'm curious about is how will you manage to show that side of the Witch-king at the battle. Are you thinking about writing both things at once, or writing a separate vignette for each?

Btw, will you have Arvedui at the battle? I don't think he was there, I believe he had already died. Earnur was there.
yeah, this is the kind of thing that happens to me when it's 2:00 a.m. and I'm going over a plot-hole for my story... Arvedui died the year before this battle! I guess you could have Arvedui if you were going AU, right?

Does anybody think that Turin Turambar could function as the antagonist? And maybe Tuor as the protagonist?
Anything about those two would be just great to read. Their personalities and background are so complex that leave an open window for many writing possibilities. I can think of many things you can do with them, but I have a question: will you do them both on the same story? I have always viewed them as "good" (sorry about that label), so I would absolutely love to read your take on it, featuring Turin as the antagonist. Will you set this at the time when they crossed paths and didn't recognize each other? (don't remember, but was this on his way to rescue Finduilas?)

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Could I borrow some of your witch-king-ly traits for my witch-king in "Alliance"? He seems to be quite the kind of person that would end up as a ringwraith... poor thing!

At the risk of creating 'fanon,' be my guest.

Flaws for Glorfindel... I'm still musing about that one...
What I'm curious about is how will you manage to show that side of the Witch-king at the battle. Are you thinking about writing both things at once, or writing a separate vignette for each?


I haven't got that far. So far when I think the Witch-king, he invades in first persone POV. Glorfindel is more reserved, usually. I suppose it could work as two vignettes, or alternating POVs. Or even as POVs of other characters - a warrior in Glorfindel's force, a non warrior resident of the Fornost area. Hmmm.

Arvedui died the year before this battle! I guess you could have Arvedui if you were going AU, right?

Certainly for an AU. For my version I will stick to canon as closely as I can, I'll have enough trouble with what I've got!

Lyllyn

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Hello everyone!

Just a few questions I need answered before I go ahead and enter this challenge.

1) Does the story specifically have to be an actual story with our characters moveing and talking or could it be a series of thoughts that the character thought otherwise?

and

2) For the villain, does the word 'villain' apply to the named villains (ie Morgoth, Sauron, Gothmog) or could the villain be your ordinary Balrog, killing and raiding, who has a little seed of goodness planted within their fiery spirits which just hasn't been found yet?

Answers appreciated greatly.
Thanks

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Hello Eleithien! I missed this one somehow, bad me.

1) Does the story specifically have to be an actual story with our characters moveing and talking or could it be a series of thoughts that the character thought otherwise?


While a story might be an easier why to tell the tale, the the latter is not unacceptable. As long as the contrast between the 'good trait' in an evil character (and the reverse for a good chracter), it fits the Challenge.


2) For the villain, does the word 'villain' apply to the named villains (ie Morgoth, Sauron, Gothmog) or could the villain be your ordinary Balrog, killing and raiding, who has a little seed of goodness planted within their fiery spirits which just hasn't been found yet?

It might be simpler to have a named villain, because we've seen a bit of their character, and it's easier to compare the corrupted personality with that little seed of goodness.

But considering you've named Balrogs here, I guess you wouldn't have much choice, since there is only one named Balrog (Gothmog), and the other prominent one would be the Moria Balrog. Since their both fairly generic themselves, this argument could go both ways: Write about them over a Balrog you don't know about or write about a new Balrog since the aforementioned ones don't have much of a personality themselves.

However, I would advise you to stick to a named villain, but it's really up to your own discretion.

I hope I've clarified things here!

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Thanks Klose!

This challenge sounds interesting. I think I should start raking my brain for ideas now!

Thanks again for the clarification!

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

Sorry to be a pain but, say your little sister, upon her death made you promise not to kill her husband, despite all the things he has done, but you went along anyway and killed him because after all, you are a descendant of Finwe (the son of Fingolfin to be exact) and it’s completely normal for you to get all angry and fired up and make rash decisions. Would this be evil enough to enter into this challenge?

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

I'd consult with Silm people about this one--I'm just bad enough with the Silm not to know who you're talking about (except for Fingolfin), so I'm having trouble trying to sort this out in my head.

Just to throw out a couple characters for people to consider, if you want a really tough character to write as having that "dram" of evil, try making Celegorm's or Caranthir's or Curufin's habitual badness square with their status as good-guy protagonists (or at least, anti-Morgoth protagonists).

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

So far when I think the Witch-king, he invades in first persone POV.

Bwahaha, yes he does!

I've been pacing around this challenge for months now and realize that part of my wrestling with it is that it just seems almost too easy -- I must be missing something. All one has to do is switch point of view, really -- isn't, say, Legolas and Gimli's gleeful competition in Orc-slaughter, thinking of them only as score-points, awfully evil from an Orcish point of view? What about Sam's refusal to sympathize with Gollum/Smeagol? What about Luthien's stubborn disobedience of her father when he was only trying to protect her - what about her treachery and duplicity in dealing with Morgoth, for that matter? It doesn't work quite as consistently for the reverse, but what about Melkor's frustrated creativity and Sauron's unflagging loyalty?

 

 

Re: Dram of Evil/Seed of Goodness

So far when I think the Witch-king, he invades in first person POV.

Bwahaha, yes he does!


Interesting that certain characters do this, quite suddenly or violently, and demand it be written just that way NOW. Others are shy or reserved, and demand courtship and patience to reveal any little thing. Damn pushy Nazgûl...

I've been pacing around this challenge for months now and realize that part of my wrestling with it is that it just seems almost too easy -- I must be missing something. All one has to do is switch point of view, really -

Good points all, especially the Legolas and Gimli competition, which really looks very ghoulish. I will be delighted to see this done. Who are you going to do?

Lyllyn

 

 

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