How to Write Evil

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Image source:  Wallpaper-gallery.net

 

I’ve observed that, unless they are mentally ill, people tend to be fairly consistent in their beliefs and actions.  They may appear to be believing nonsense and acting irrationally.  In reality they are acting consistently with their world image, which may be radically different from mine.

 

Not only are people consistent, but they tend to want to be around people who reliably share their perspective.  They often don’t care if your personality, or even your race or religion, is different from theirs, as long as you share their worldview.  They want your choices to be predictable.

 

This is useful information for me as a creative person because It helps me understand how to write better books.  My audience will be looking for characters that share their worldview and will assume, if I write those characters, that I also share their worldview.  Most of them will tolerate only small and temporary deviations from that consistency.

 

That goes for “evil” characters too.  I don’t have to make an “evil” character realistic to work.  I simply have to make their worldview counter to the one shared by the most sympathetic characters, and have him or her consistently act according to those contrary principles.

 

My audience will want to read my books because they will feel like a part of the community of my characters.  They will love them, wish they were with them, and value the restful reliability of their fictional lives.  They will also enjoy hating the villains who, after all, are nothing like themselves.

 

I could extend the benefit of this idea to improve the reach of my creative life in general.  Having an identity, even if it’s not really “me,” is immensely helpful to an audience because it reflects a consistent worldview, even if it’s not my own.  I think the best artists either consciously or unconsciously cultivate a consistent public persona because the audience responds to such consistency with trust and fidelity.”

 

Unfortunately for me, I like my characters more complicated.  I also enjoy working in a wide variety of mediums and genres.  Thus my relationship with my audience, if I have one, will always be confused and strained.

 

I have to make peace with that.  Perhaps if I am consistent in my inconsistency that will be enough for those people that know and trust me.  I may end up remaining my many colored self, hoping that I am actually the pied piper who can convince people to follow.

 

 

2 comments

  • Darcy Hamlin

    Darcy Hamlin

    We love your many colors, Adam. :) XO I am interested in the "differing worldview" perspective. I would consider people of different religious belief systems to be of different worldviews. It's the morality that matters: whether a person is kind, considerate, and compassionate. A person who is "evil" (a word I have trouble with in real life although I totally get it in the fictional realm) would be someone who is intentionally harmful and disregards the feelings and lives of others. At least that's how I see it....again, semantics are fascinating! :) Thanks for the great post and for making us think!

    We love your many colors, Adam. smile XO I am interested in the "differing worldview" perspective. I would consider people of different religious belief systems to be of different worldviews. It's the morality that matters: whether a person is kind, considerate, and compassionate. A person who is "evil" (a word I have trouble with in real life although I totally get it in the fictional realm) would be someone who is intentionally harmful and disregards the feelings and lives of others. At least that's how I see it....again, semantics are fascinating! smile Thanks for the great post and for making us think!

  • Jan Kingston

    Jan Kingston

    I liked Darcy's comments, as well as your blog. I thought your blog was thought-provoking, Adam. Sadly, I think these ideas are becoming the reality for many--the "we" and the "other, evil, not we". Although I think in reality, people are much more complex and cannot be pegged into one sentence or only two "sides." There is much confusion out there. Thank you for your thoughts.

    I liked Darcy's comments, as well as your blog. I thought your blog was thought-provoking, Adam. Sadly, I think these ideas are becoming the reality for many--the "we" and the "other, evil, not we". Although I think in reality, people are much more complex and cannot be pegged into one sentence or only two "sides." There is much confusion out there. Thank you for your thoughts.

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