Friday, October 24, 2008

The Case of the Chicken and the Egg

Charles here.

In her post (below), Debby noted that some famous author (not one of us, but maybe Thomas Harris) said that ‘fictional villains have to be as well-drawn as the good guys.’ I agree.
When I start a new project, I always start with the villain for one simple reason: Hero’s don’t create villains, villains create heroes.
Joe Shmoe is a mild mannered shoe salesman and avid Cubs fan who has a fear of fire. Nothing heroic there. (Okay, maybe tragic considering the Cubs bit…) Jane Doe is a psychotic arson who sets a daycare facility on fire, trapping a dozen kids. Joe Shome is driving home from a baseball card collectors’ show when he sees flames coming out of the roof of the daycare. He puts his fear aside, kicks in the door and rescues the kids, finding in himself a heroism that would never have been realized if it wasn’t for wacked-out Jane Doe.
My point is that, given the right set of circumstances, ANYBODY can be a hero. And the most common heroes are the most interesting. I love James Bond but he’s less a hero in my mind than Joe Shmoe. It’s the villain (or antagonist if you want to get all literary on us) that sets a story in motion, otherwise it’s as dull as watching Joe Schome sell shoes, cheer on the Cubs and avoid fire.
The problem today? There seems to be an excessive amount of villains and a shortage of heroes.
But maybe just getting through it makes us all some kind of hero.
Thoughts?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I like the way you think Charles Benoit! Nice blog and liked the thought you left us to ponder.
Happy weekend!
Susan C.

NL Gassert said...

I like the idea of a Joe Shmoe villain. Not an experienced career criminal, but a regular guy with ambition and the opportunity to do something really, really bad. Now that’s scary.

Charles benoit said...

Agreed! Just as we are all capable of being heroes, we are all capable of being villains. What's that, not you? Okay, imagine you had information about a plot to harm a loved one, but it was info no one would believe. Would you take matters into your own hand, even if it meant breaking the law? And what would someone have to do--or threaten to do--for you to be willing to kill them (or hurt 'em really bad?) I really think that any of us can be pushed that far. And when we are, THAT'S a story.

ARCHAVIST said...

villains create heroes - love that line