Monday, 27 May 2013

A Good Bad Guy

So the weekend went well; got a lot of editing done and created a short piece for a collaborative thread I contribute to on so all good there.

Thinking about what to write a blog on for tonight and I was inspired by a bit of a discussion I was having about a new story another writer had started; and by discussion I mean I was trying to avoid saying outright just how much I hated the direction they were taking it. Now I usually try and avoid this sort of thing, there are going to be works that are well written but just don't do it for me.

On this occasion though it really got under my skin and after taking some deep breathes I think I've figured out what riled me up so much; its that in my view the plot essentially hands all the advantages to the protagonists and eliminates the possibility of having a meaningful antagonist, or in simpler terms the good guys are too good.

The classic example of the hero whose just too powerful for good drama is Superman; as a character he's nigh on omnipotent and so when it comes to injecting drama the writers all too often have to resort to coming up with ways to take away his powers (everyone and their best friend having access to Kryptonite) or inventing a protagonist who has the same abilities, which practically speaking amounts to the same thing.

It has to be noted that this isn't a problem if things are the other way round; consider a scenario where you have two sides in conflict but one has tanks and jet fighters while the other has horses and bows and arrows. Now if your protagonists are the ones with the bows and arrows finding a way to triumph against the odds that offers up all manner of possibilities (some I grant you more plausible than others). If on the other hand the good guys are the ones with the tanks and planes you've essentially drained all the dramatic tension out of the situation. Sure you can come up with ways to try and inject it back in but its often not much more than the equivalent of all of Superman's enemies conveniently finding Krypyonite lying around.

 The simple fact is a story is more satisfying when you feel the heroes earned their victory and didn't have it handed to them on a plate, and for that you need a good bad guy.

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