A bit of background…
I recently read that one of the keys to a successful blog is knowing who you are blogging to. Since I am a writer, obviously my blog readers should be, well, readers. Not just blog readers, but novel readers, and probably not just blog and novel readers but the sort of readers who sit down with their morning cereal and read the box because there are words on it and you simply can’t resist. So with that in mind, I plan to blog to readers and talk about characters and plot and all the things we love about reading fiction.
Firstly I want to talk about characters and what we love and hate about them. The most common person in my books tends to be the Hero. *cue dramatic music* Or, even more commonly, the Heroes. Many heroes come in two flavors – the good to the core hero, and the anti-hero. With the first sort, you never have to question his character. Throughout the whole story, you know he will make the right choices, follow the moral path, listen to his conscience, and choose good over evil. Harry Potter is good to the core; even at the ultimate moment when he can choose to be selfish or save the world, did anyone have any doubt which path he would choose? I don’t think so.
Have wand, have glasses, have school tie and magic. Now what?
On the other side of the coin we have the anti-hero. His motives are grayer, his morals ambiguous (or even non-existent or flat-out evil), and his choices sometimes gripping and unexpected. This can make for a more intense story, but sometimes we simply don’t like them very much. Many times the anti-hero is willing to sacrifice characters we love in order to fulfill their own personal goals.
Hey, let’s put them together!
Opposites can be really wonderful when combined. Lemons and sugar make lemonade! Vinegar and pineapple make sweet and sour sauce! The hero and the anti-hero make the perfect heroic duo! Many authors have capitalized on this and have come up with some amazing pairs for us to love. Often the anti-hero will be a source of conflict for the hero as he attempts to fulfill his honorable mission without being waylaid by the machinations of the anti-hero.
Hero: I must achieve my goal at any cost.
Anti-Hero: But look at this shiny thing you might want instead!
Hero: Must. Resist.
Anti-Hero: SHINY THING!
Also, it can spur some great dialog and keep potentially boring scenes from getting dull. Two oppositely-motivated people traveling together for long distances (whether walking, riding horse-giraffes, or taking a car or train) can make for some entertaining interactions, arguments, and encourage tougher choices and introduce greater conflict in the long run.
You know you want one.
Sometimes the anti-hero can be mistaken for the hero’s comedic sidekick, but in most cases they have a larger role than that and end up being vital to the plot, whereas the comedic sidekick could be removed from the story completely without affecting the overall story.
In conclusion, opposites attract, or sometimes repel, and in either case can make for interesting reading.
Who are your favorite heroic pairs?