Wednesday, March 6, 2019

White Hat, Black Hat, or Something in Gray?

Welcome to the first Wednesday of the month. You know what that means! It's time to let our insecurities hang out. Yep, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group blog hop. If you're a writer at any stage of career, I highly recommend this blog hop as a way to connect with other writers for support, sympathy, ideas, and networking.

If you're a reader, it's a great way to peek behind the curtain of a writing life.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard! Be sure to check out their blogs after mine! The question this month is: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

Playing in different perspectives is one of the fun parts of writing for me. I've often said that writing is like reading, but on steroids. What I love about reading is the chance to experience someone else's life from the inside, to get a sense of what it might be like to be them and do the things they have done. When I'm doing that as a writer, it's even more powerful because I'm even more fully immersed in someone's psyche.

Even though I write superhero fiction, I'm not a good guys and bad guys dichotomy believer. The most interesting characters are heroes and villains. They're complex and contradictory. They do good things for selfish reasons and bad things for good reasons.

You've heard the old saw that everyone is the hero of their own story? I believe that wholeheartedly. The hero isn't a role, it's a perspective, and a different character may seem like the hero, depending on where you're standing to watch this fight. It's why Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog is one of my favorite superhero stories. The good guy isn't that good and the bad guy isn't all bad.

Those shades of gray moments are where the tension lies for me.

So, in my Menopausal Superhero series, Cindy Liu is the villain. After all, it's her fault that all the other women were transformed. She worked toward her own ends, without regard for the effect on others. Patricia O'Neill is one of the heroes. After all, she uses her powers to help others (eventually, after Suzie convinces her to). Simple, right?

But it doesn't take long for lines to blur. Maybe Cindy had more altruism in her motivations than is obvious on the surface. Maybe Patricia is more self-serving than she seems at first glance.

Maybe they are both just women, making their way with what they've got, trying to figure out what they want to do.

So, I like writing it all! Heroes, villains, princes and thieves. The magic is in all the in-betweens.


  1. Great perspective on good guys and bad guys, and so true. Both are fascinating and do things for their own reasons.

  2. I've never thought of it as just another perspective. But you are so right, it's all about how they look at things. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  3. Villains with shades of gray are usually the most interesting.

  4. I agree with you that villains and heroes are not good and evil. That's what makes them so interesting.

  5. I LOVE Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog for just that reason (Plus, it's just straight-up awesome.). Great example!

  6. Complex villains who aren't completely evil are usually more interesting.

  7. You said it - everyone is a hero in their own story. Villains think they are doing the right thing even when it's wrong.

  8. I love your post today. I love your love in diving into all characters no matter their role. Happy IWSG Day :)

  9. Rarely do we find villains who are pure evil. (I do believe they exist though.) You're right about it being perspective. From my pov, I'm a great person. From someone else's (and I can think of at least one) I'm not. So we write from our hero's pov and hope the reader finds the good in her/him.

  10. You're so right, Samantha: "The magic is in all the in-betweens ." I'll have to find "Dr.Horrible's Singalong Blog" to read. It sounds intriguing. Happy writing in March!

  11. I love complex characters--both writing and reading them. Characters that are "all good" are boring. Who's like that in real life? Um, no one.