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RoE.d1.day44 – bad guys: how to get from cliche to clever?

i got a few pages in this morning*, but i had a hard time keeping one of the bad guys from being a cliche. i’m still not sure i succeeded, but i’m glad i at least noticed it. it made me think about some of my other bad guys in other stories and novels.

i started with fairly generic bad guys, though starting with Witness i’ve tried to make sure that they’re not cardboard cutouts. Omma for example, is clearly a fairly straightforward brute with little care for morality, but there are glimmers of a larger view and a rationale for his hardness. Kelly & Umber interact with some standard definitions of evil, but even this perception is turned on its head (apparently?) halfway through the first book. for Another Night…, i unintentionally confused the idea of bad guy by creating an environment populated by criminals – if everyone’s a bad guy, then there’s no such thing as a bad guy, right? if everyone does awesome work, the definition of awesome is implicitly undermined. now, for Running on Empty, i’m using a criminal as my protagonist (i hesitate to use the term ‘hero’).

huh. i hadn’t really noticed this as such a linear progression before. this calls for some additional rumination…

* thanks to being fairly significantly disturbed by a viewing of the film Kick-Ass last night. i can only seem to describe it as Sin City-lite. i’m still having trouble getting past the excess of gore (nothing on Sin City’s level) juxtaposed with Hit Girl’s youth. perhaps the comic dealt better with this, but i saw no awareness on the little girl’s part, or of anyone else (aside from the token former partner of her father who was actually the man who raised her and should have been her father figure instead), of the incredibly manipulative and deeply not good efforts of her father (who i actually enjoyed in Nicholas Cage, here, these particular problems aside), however ‘righteous’ his intent. i wondered if this was such a problem for me because it was a girl, but i don’t honestly think so. any child of that age turned into a killing machine can only make me think of the child soldier atrocities in Sudan and elsewhere. i believe this is too early for the capacity for self-awareness to be properly formed, for questions of right and wrong to be adequately considered, and the most likely result is nothing that i would ever want to see. squeamish? yeah, i’m okay with that.

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