The following is a chain of comments between me and Lisa W from my post “A Good Book needs a Good Villain – Part Two
Lisa W “I agree. Villains are a necessary evil (sorry for the pun) and the more viscous the villain, the braver the hero has to be to overcome it. Villains may be juicier to write, but I love my heroes”.
My Reply “It all depends on the hero is it Batman or Superman?”
Lisa W reply “Both. They are very different – one with natural powers and works globally, the other with training and cool gadgets and works within Gotham City – but they accomplish the same thing – saving the innocent and bringing justice. The difference between heroes and villains are their choices. Batman has much in common with the villains in his tale, but he chooses to help others instead of being narcissistic. I think Solomon could have been a Batman, if not for his father”. (I should point out at this point, that Lisa has read all my stories and knows the character of Solomon Pace very well)
I have posted the above chain because Lisa makes an excellent point and one that goes beyond heroes or villains.
If you put the effort in to make your characters interesting, by giving them light and shade, by giving them hopes and fears, then readers (and we are all readers) will invest their time and energy into those characters, by talking about them and discussing the with their friends and colleagues, and when that happens your characters will take on a life of their own as people will be:
Wondering what happened to that character when they were little to make them turn out the way they did.
They will be discussing – what would happen if character x meet character y
Discussing how heroic/ nasty that character is.
Doing what Lisa did, and comparing fictional characters against fictional characters
When that happens, you as a writer has succeeded in what you do. : )
I do find it a shame that in the genre I write (Fantasy) – too many writers forget about the characters in their story because they too busy trying to create new worlds, 18 different languages and hence are stuck with one dimensional, boring, and heavily predictable characters.
Too many of them want to be Tolkien, Steven Donaldson or Stephen Erikson, they forget or don’t know about the great and wonderful writers that have come before or are out there:
Scott Lynch – The Lies of Locke Lamora
Joe Abercrombie – The Blade Itself, Before they are Hanged, Last Argument of kings
Fitz Leiber – The Gray Mouser series
Brian Lumley – The Necroscope series
Alan Moore – Almost everything this man has written is pure gold.
Hugh Cook – Chronicles of an age of darkness
To name but a few.
Right I had better stop there or a I will be ranting on and on and on lol.