RoE.d1.day50 – loathsome to likeable: finding the line
got a relatively early night last night, for the first time in a while, which was nice. it also meant i was awake and ready to go a little after 4, which gave me a good hour and a half of writing. i haven’t been as good at my morning writing lately, so this was a nice change.
anyway, Herrick’s been caught seemingly red-handed, but for something he definitely didn’t do. a classic plight for a sympathetic criminal-type, i know, but so far Herrick hasn’t been terribly sympathetic. i’ve made a point of not softening him, which has made for some interesting scenes i don’t think i could have written even a year or so ago. this makes me happy for my own sake. it makes me uncomfortable, however, as i wonder if I’ve made a character the audience won’t care about.
that being said, Herrick is at a bit of a crossroad. not only his he faced with a false but supported accusation that will lead to long-term imprisonment, his entirely true alibi sounds like a joke (e.g., “it was the one-armed man!”), and the police have dug up some history about Herrick which has touched some unexpected nerves. all this points to a moment of self-reflection and at least basic recognition of some of the issues at hand.
however, this isn’t the final crossroad and Herrick simply isn’t ready or capable of making the necessary step for a genuine change. it is my experience (in admittedly only vaguely similar situations) that people who have made a life of poor choices will often go to great lengths to avoid any responsibility, even to their own further detriment. Herrick is such a person.
it’s hard writing him because i want to be honest to his character. the problem is that he’s not Han Solo; he’s not likeable. not yet, anyway.
currently, he’s stewing in a holding cell which is a perfect opportunity, as i mentioned, for the character change. the unexpected digging up of past issues certainly points in that direction. it feels too easily wrapped though, and i couldn’t write it honestly. mind you, it was easy enough to write that way, but it felt trite. so i took a moment and listened little harder to Herrick, alone in that cell, with these authority figures just outside pressing him over this thing he didn’t do but can’t disprove, with the physical pain he’s in from recent events which he blames on them, with the history they tried to manipulate him with, and I realized he was still blind to his own responsibility for the situation.
so, he’s still a jerk. his change is coming, at least in part, but the question is: will the audience care?
why is my main character a guy i would really dislike in real life?