Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Heroes and Villains

I am currently waiting on a plumber who is supposed to arrive between 10 and 2. This is one of the reasons I keep procrastinating dealing with this kind of thing or try to do it myself. I hate waiting during vague windows of time. But when this is over, I'll pretty much just be down to some minor repairs and some cleaning and my house will be ready to sell. Then the problem will be finding a new house. There was an article today about how there's a severe shortage of homes in my price range because they're only building more expensive homes. One reason there are few homes to buy is because there are few homes to buy -- people can't sell if they can't find a place to move to, so homes aren't going up for sale unless people are moving out or really moving up. I'm lucky to be in a position to be able to make a good down payment without having to sell my current house, so I guess I can afford to wait until I find something before I sell. And I guess I can keep saving money so maybe I can afford something more expensive.

Which means earning more. My Twitter experiment results were inconclusive. The Amazon ranking didn't improve with each tweet, as it seemed to do over the weekend, but it did rise at the end of the day. Maybe there's a slower tweet-to-sale correlation on a weekday? I do have a few more followers. I'll keep at it.

I also managed a big brainstorming session. The elements that were missing are falling into place, and I think the book can take off from here. I'm even starting to see the "movie" of this book in my head and imagine scenes I haven't written yet. Incidentally, this is why I don't have an Enchanted Inc. book 8 on the horizon. I know some general things that could potentially happen, but nothing that amounts to a plot, and the main thing is that I'm not seeing those characters doing anything. No scenes have come to mind, and I've tried. I've even tried picturing some "doing laundry" type scenes that aren't plot-specific, and nada. I guess they're still resting.

Meanwhile, I've started reading my way through the Nebula ballot, and while I did find one fun thing, the rest have been pretty bleak. I actually put a book down last night because I realized it was making me so miserable that I couldn't even put my "this really isn't my cup of tea" bias aside to judge it on any objective merits. One book I got through, but it was kind of like reading an entire book-length Facebook post by one of those people who thinks all other people suck and aren't nearly as smart or deep as she is, and who demonizes everyone who disagrees with her on the tiniest little thing and explodes it out of proportion.

I guess this sort of thing is considered "literary merit."

I'll just keep writing fun stories about good people fighting against bad people because it's the right thing to do. I'm not going to tear down my heroes to show that they're just as bad as the villains and call it "complexity."

And what's up with that, anyway? I've noticed that there's this weird moral equivalency thing they tend to do, especially on TV, where they try to show that the villains aren't so bad because the heroes are also bad. Except the way it comes across is that the heroes do one minor thing wrong, and they're declared to be just as bad as the villains. But the villains can do one good thing or have something bad happen to them, and they become a sainted martyr. It's like the villains can slaughter an entire village but save a puppy and have been given a mean look by a hero, and that changes the entire equation, so now they're heroes and victims. But the heroes can jaywalk and get angry at the villains who've murdered their entire families and see, they're just as bad as the villains are -- or worse!

Now, some of this is the way fans perceive it, as any "misunderstood" villain played by an attractive actor, particularly one who gets fun, snarky lines, is going to have a legion of fans prepared to excuse his every move and eager to give him all the love and cuddles he needs to heal his inner wounds, and this has nothing to do with the writing. It's been amusing watching J.K. Rowling's frustration with the way fans perceive Draco Malfoy. She's like "But he's a creep and a jerk! And look, there's Harry! He's good, and he's also played by a cute actor!"

But then there are the writers who also do this, which is why I'm in hate-watch mode with Once Upon a Time, where the writers are the ones making excuses for the villains, and they seem to have a huge blind spot about this. The villains do things like commit mass murder or destroy an entire society, but it's excused because something bad once happened to them, and it's all the heroes' fault, so really, the heroes are just as bad. But then we find out that the bad thing was something like telling a secret as a child, or exposing a lie, or refusing to trust someone who was being evil. Now they seem to be trying to actively tear down their good characters while the villains suffer nobly and are considered to be robbed because they aren't just being handed happy endings.

As a Christian, I believe in redemption, and I love a good redemption story. But a big part of redemption is acknowledging that you were wrong and repenting of that, which involves some degree of remorse for the pain you've caused. Redemption also doesn't erase the consequences of your past behavior. It just means you move forward. A redemption story can be very satisfying, but that sense of justice does need to be maintained. This whole "the heroes are just as bad!" thing is very unsatisfying to watch. I don't think a hero has to be perfect. Perfect people are boring. Good people can make mistakes. The difference between a hero and a villain is how they react to mistakes or the bad things in their lives. A hero will feel bad about it and try to atone while a villain will have no conscience or will try to justify it.

I just really don't get the love for bad people and hatred for good people, so I guess my writing will remain uncool.

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