In Stone House Farm the rejected fiancee of the hero and an ex-husband of the heroine want retribution. Not getting what she wants (his wealth and prestige) leads the ex-fiance to try to kill the man who didn't want her, and the ex-husband tries to get more money from his ex-wife.
In Rogue's Rules, there are two evil characters. One is Morgan Dachs, who, to save his life and ship, traded thirteen fellow crewmembers to a slaver. Morgan's uncle-in-law, Durrant Rosche, uses the powerful Dachs name, and their wealth, for his personal gain. While they were bad, in Angels Tread readers learn it was another powerful person who was controlling them. And Admiral Ries Vaughn used his rank and power to get whatever he wanted.
In Constantine's Legacy, a high-ranking priest has a fraudulent document made that says Emperor Constantine the Great gave the Church his lands in Italy when he moved the court to Byzantium. He ends up trying to kill the story's hero who knows the truth.
The judgment on the good or evil of a person depends on many things. The world's human populations are complicated as well as their history. What's good in one country can be evil in another. During their early development, people lived in tribes whose individuals helped protect each other, but often annihilated other tribes. Our history shows this tendency continues between certain populations and countries. Individuals have the same tendencies. How each person is raised and their mental outlook has a great influence on whether they are considered a good or bad person. And certainly, like the Earth, they have polar opposites that can switch from good to evil or vice-versa for their own survival.
Part of writing is showing how a character's history and his or her outlook will develop how they can become evil.
On the other hand, I have witnessed strangers bestowing great kindness. I was once ringing up a customer's bill, but her card wouldn't cover the cost. The man in line behind her said he'd pay it. And he did—over eighty dollars. This works in writing stories, too, as it shows how a character's behavior lets the reader judge their goodness or evilness.
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Rhobin, you have identified the main source of evil actions: greed. It is so in life, and so will immediately feel vivid and plausible in a story, even if it is set in another reality. Keep up the good work!ReplyDelete
It makes me wonder what makes one person greedy and another not? Thank you for this thoughtful topic.ReplyDelete
Everyone has a set of values with a hierarchy and rules for how those are met. These are influenced by a variety of things in our life, including, but not limited to: our upbringing, our personalities, and what mode we operate in. Values, their hierarchy, and rules can, and do, change. Two people can have the same values hierarchy, but a different set of rules will absolutely affect how these two people real respond and go about attaining those values.ReplyDelete
I’m going to give a very basic example, although this topic can get fairly complicated:
Say you have two women. Both crave love more than anything else. That is their highest value, the one they need, and want, above all the others. However, how they feel love, feel like the get it, and what they can do to get it is entirely dependent upon the rules.
For one, let’s call her Jenny, how she feels love is by doing everything she can to make others happy. When they’re happy and express gratitude, she feels love. Perhaps Jenny decides to become a teacher because she likes helping people, but it’s also that need to connect and experience love. Her rules have upsides and downsides, which, if you let your writer’s imagination run away with you, all of us can see.
For the other, Constance, in order for her to feel love, she needs adulation and praise. When someone criticizes her, it could be either devastating or it could anger her. Constance wants to be a famous singer/actor/something, not so much because they want fame, but they believe that this will get them the love they crave.
The same can be said for greed. It may be a person who’s highest value is power or success, but you have successful people who aren’t greedy. Why? their rules for attaining and sustaining that power/success. Why does it seem that some (a lot of) people change when they get there? Because their rules change. Often, people aren’t even aware of it happening.
Anyway, people are fascinating. I think, at least for me, that’s why it’s fun to write so many stories.
Thanks for the topic, Rhobin! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Hi Rhobin, great topic and interesting so many of us shy away from painting actual evil characters. I must agree that a person who trades others into slavery is evil. It's also true that 'a woman scorned' is one to stay away from. Greed drives so many to lose sight of the other things in life. AnneReplyDelete
Interesting post. Flawed characters are always so much more intersting that unflawed ones. We tend to forget thatReplyDelete
tribes have their own culture and what may be good in one might be forbidden in another. Pity the woman who married into a foreign tribe.
Your "evil" characters add to the conflict for the hero/heroine. They appear much like mine did in The Candidate. Greed is such a common motivator but it manifests so differently in different characters. Jealously, which you also showed is another "evil" trait that motivates the character a well as drives conflict and plot for your main characters.ReplyDelete
"A character's behavior lets the reader judge their goodness or evilness." Well said! The best characters are the ones who are not all good and not all blend but a salt and pepper blend!ReplyDelete
Rhobin, another great topic. I agree the best character are a blend of of good and evil. Sadly, self-serving motivation seems to transcend timeReplyDelete