Dark and dangerous . . .
This week, Feb 10, on Writer Unboxed, Anne Aguirre discussed the hero vs. the anti-hero. And it fitted in with my thoughts when I saw how many people had visited my blog after mentioning Richard Armitage and including a shot of him as Guy of Gisborne. Patently the anti-hero is alive and well.
Ann says: ‘I recently read a post wherein people discuss the idea of characters needing to be “worthy” of happiness and/or love. In other words, some folks don’t want to read about people who don’t always walk the straight and narrow, or who have had to make some tough (possibly terrible?) choices. I feel uncomfortable with the notion that my characters have to be in some sense morally superior before I can permit them to enjoy any measure of contentment. To me, that feels judgmental. I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. Who then decides if I’m good enough to be loved or to be happy?’ She continues: ‘I adore protagonists who have visited their own personal versions of hell and come out on the other side, perhaps twisted, but still here. ‘
These were my thoughts exactly when I was creating the character of Finnian. His life was hell and continued to be so, affecting his judgement and his ability to make a moral choice. But he can still love and that is the tragedy. I hope that Finnian arouses passions in people who may eventually read this book, that they will feel his pain, feel such sadness for a childhood lost, that they will hate him for his moral weaknesses and for his cruel choices, but that they will see a chink, that pinpoint of light that just might save him in the end.
I wonder if that’s what Guy of Gisborne’s legion of fans (I won’t say Richard Armitage because RA is a person apart from the characters he plays) felt as they watched Robin Hood.
How can you keep admiring a character who kills the love of his life in a mad crime of passion? And yet fans say they saw a redemptive quality in the man. They knew he would have to atone for what he did, but they loved him anyway. Of course the man who played Guy of Gisborne is a tremendously attractive man but I’d like to think the character was the thing that aficionados followed, not the superficial look.
Maybe that’s what makes it so much harder in writing, there isn’t that visual thing. A writer has to convince the reader that the anti-hero is indeed worth caring about – with word, text. And thinking further, the hardest thing is not making the dark characters cardboard cliched.
Was Guy of Gisborne cardboard cliched, is my Finnian similarly constructed? In the end , it’s ultimately the reader and the market who will decide, isn’t it?