Is it ok to use nasty things like murder and blood to make my villain more realistic?
I have a villain who starts out as an ok guy, but changes to a really bad guy. And he thinks he's justified in doing so. If he were a real character, he would be doing things far more dark and evil than I currently 'show'.
I could just tell the reader what he does instead of showing it. But then how do I make him an accurate villain without getting a slap on the wrist for "showing and not telling"? That's supposed to be a cardinal rule, right?
And also, isn't authenticity a must? Shouldn't my characters stay true to how I've written them? That's the best way to make writing good, and I'm striving to make my writing good to give glory to God.
Sometimes I wonder, when I hear other Christians talk about books and say "Oh, that was my favorite villain!" if they would feel comfortable putting their name as author on a book with such a villain. Do we all just enjoy the evil people in fiction that others create and refuse to make them ourselves because WE have morals? (If so, that's quite hypocritical.)
Hannibal, Iago, Jadis, Saruman, Cruella de Ville........
Which level of evil is appropriate to show?
(I listed Saruman and not Sauron because it feels like in the books we never actually get to interact with Sauron as much as Saruman.)
Even if it was totally ok for me to write my villain as evil as evil can be, do I want to? Even if I kept my character true to himself, would people really want to read about all that? Would I? I'm not even sure if I want to write it, let alone if I should.
And yet, am I denying my writing something that is essential to the story? At the risk of putting ammunition into the hands of everyone I once had an apologetic* argument with, every book needs a villain. It's a necessary evil.
*Apologetics: The art or act of defending what one believes, in this case, the intellectual defense of the Christian faith.
Roni over at Fiction Groupie and Julie at Diary of an Unpublished Wanna-Be Writer are holding a Totally Epic Summer Contest.
- A copy of Hannah Moskowitz's book: Break
- An ARC copy of Lisa Desrocher's book: Personal Demons
- A query or first five pages critique from Fine Print Lit's intern, Gemma Cooper
- A query or first five pages critique from Janet Reid's assistant, Meredith Barnes
- A query or first five pages critique from agent Suzie Townsend
- A query or first five pages critique from editor Brendan Deneen
First winner gets first pick. Plus they're having a new interview/awesome post every day this week. Contest closes Sunday. Go to it!