I was going to name the post “Character Development”, but that just sounded too boring. I’ve been working a lot on this issue lately, and it occurred to me how much easier it is to write villains. Why, I wondered… but the answer wasn’t far away. I think we see a lot of them in our real lives. In your day job, is it the most qualified person who gets promoted? Or is it the manipulative wench who presents others’ work as her own? Who gets the last seat on the bus? The tired waitress with aching feet or the teenage snot who darts in front of her? And don’t even get me started on cellphone etiquette and the like… My point is that we see and experience these kinds of behavior too much, and it sticks in our craw. We want to see those evil people get theirs, but does that ever happen? That we can actually see? Or is it years and years in coming?
Good guys don’t make as big of an impact on us, for some reason, and that’s a shame. We see someone plug a nickel in a stranger’s parking meter and think “awww”. But then it’s gone in a blip. A guy might help clear snow off their neighbor’s driveway, but when the big windstorm comes through town, whose tree is going to fall on his house? It’s sad and it’s not right, but it’s true more often than not. Good guys finish last.
I think that’s why we enjoy books so much. In 300 pages, the bad guy always gets caught up in their own web. The good guy triumphs AND gets the girl. But I guess that’s why we call it fiction.