Thursday, August 5, 2010
Shattering a Paradigm: Creating a Bad Good Guy
Since the beginning of time, the devil's minions hide in plain sight, chameleons of faith, and executioners of hope. - The Book of Tortured Souls, Nomar Knight
Watch out for the bad good guy! Sometimes it’s difficult to discern bad guys from good. In real life the identities aren’t always clear. It may be a trusted servant who turns against his master by torturing what’s most precious to him—his child. Perhaps a popular teacher, who’s entrusted with educating children so their trek into the world of academia could be smooth, goes beyond the call of duty and educates the student by crossing boundaries which may lead them both into moral dilemmas.
One of the most horrifying antagonists is the chameleon of faith that hides in plain sight. No, he doesn’t lurk in the shadows waiting for an opportunity to strike. He befriends his victims, constantly painting himself as the good guy who exudes righteousness, making him the envy of all unsatisfied with their own imperfections. Priests or men and women of the cloth were considered people who sacrificed personal comforts in order to serve others. Most perform their jobs well and maintain their authentic good guy status, but a few undermine the fabric of the prestigious position. So while it may be common place to hear about charges being filed against a Catholic priest or a pastor who got caught soliciting or performing “special services” deemed by their own religion as unacceptable moral behavior, fiction may illuminate the few infractions and cast an illusion that they are all enemies of society. Such a false assumption can leave many to brood about in the dark halls of ignorance.
What are sinners to think if their leaders fall to temptations of the flesh? The mere acts of betrayal to all they preach serve to remind their flock how week humans are. The power of temptation can bring the strongest of the faithful down to their knees, but not necessarily in prayer. The vulnerability of falling to the enemy can put a damper on hope.
Real life horror sometimes serves to inspire fiction. Writers enjoy tantalizing readers by mixing true events with unbelievable possibilities which may go beyond entertainment. Keep them guessing is a great formula for spinning a yarn. Another technique which may entertain is the art of illusion. It’s fun to lead readers to a logical conclusion and then pull the rug out from under them. Ah but one must be careful, for writers should not punch holes through their hypnotic bubble. Instead, they should try and immerse their readers into the worlds they create so when authors make the giant elephant disappear, readers may accept the twisty outcome as something amazing, yet wonderful and plausible for that specific world of fiction.
Betrayal of the most sacred kind when used properly in horror, may add an emotional dimension your characters can draw on to pack a powerful, realistic punch.
See you on the dark side.