*** Dexter image by David Deb ***
Here's the thing... I've never watched Dexter (although my mom tells me it's awesome), but I've recently learned something important about writing from the perspective of the "bad guy" -- they're not always that bad. Here's my personal example:
When I first started out to become a writer a few years ago, I began with retelling the myth of Cupid & Psyche (yeah, I'm still working on it, but that's another story). The "bad guy" in the myth is Venus, who is jealous of Psyche and condemns her to marry a monster. As I wrote, I pictured Venus as Heidi Klum with a heart of coal. Everything about her screamed "b!tch," regardless of whether she was interacting with Psyche, Cupid or any other god or goddess. Pretty stereotypical.
Recently, someone encouraged me to put my own spin on the myth -- to tell the story from my own unique perspective. Which got me thinking, what if Venus wasn't so stereotypical? She could have real feelings, and be hurt, just like anyone else. And her reactions would be more understandable and justified.
And I think that's where I learned a real lesson. It's really "easy" (is any part of writing easy?) to write these characters that you love to hate. They're a guy only looking to score, or a girl just trying to make herself look better by putting someone else down. Or, if we're talking darker, we could be looking at murders or drug lords. People who are rightfully scary.
Now take those characters, step back, and figure out why someone loves them despite their flaws. Why does the jerk guy have a cousin who'd do anything for him? Why does the murder have a loving family on the side who deeply cares about him? If you write even a chapter from the perspective of your bad guy (and I'm not even talking about a chapter you keep), you will necessarily make your characters more three dimensional. You'll understand something more about their feelings and motivations and that can't help but come across on the page.
What about you -- do you ever try to examine your story from the perspective of the bad guy? Do you like reading stories by or about the "bad guy"?
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Next Week's Topic: What's the worst writing blunder you've ever made that you realized later was actually a blessing?