Upon reading that title, I am certain many will think I am either mad or stupid. I can assure both, are about as far from the truth, as can be. Once you understand exactly what I mean by this statement, it could change the way you write, and create your characterization forever.
The idea, the principal, the whole concepts of right or wrong, of good or bad, are merely constructs of the human mind, based upon a given set of conditions or circumstances. If those conditions or circumstances were to change, then perceptions of right or wrong, good or bad would change with them. It is much like truth, for truth is another construct of the human mind. It can change in a day, a moment, or even a second. The truth that your wife is a good woman will change, the second you walk into the bedroom, and find her with another man.
Such it is the same for good and bad. The day, the minute, the second, the conditions or circumstances change, then too, will your perceived notions of right and wrong change, and this is true of the characters you create within any book.
To give proof of this notion, or even just a little idea of how this concept is true, I shall use the idea of killing a child.
Obviously, in nearly everyone’s mind at this moment, they think that killing a child is bad. But what if the circumstances or conditions were changed, can you be certain, you won’t question this very fundamental ideal, of good or bad?
Let’s say hypothetically, that someone built a time machine, and I climbed into it and traveled back to April of 1889. I then climbed out of the time machine and tracked down a child about to be born, and killed this child. This child’s name is Adolf Hitler. By killing him, I would have saved over 50 million lives from WW2 and over 6 million Jews from death in concentration camps. Now was killing that child, good or bad? Did your perceived notion of what is good or bad change? My guess is, that it is not nearly as clear as you thought, a minute ago.
The reason for this is simple. Nothing is inherently good or bad. There is only our perceived notions of what is good and bad. Once the circumstances or conditions change, then so too, can our belief.
So how does this affect our writing? It can affect it, when we are building our characters. If we learn to use circumstances, situations, or conditions effectively, we can create characters, that are more likable or protagonistic. If you want to give depth to your characters, you have to learn to let the readers inside the minds of your characters, for them to see their perceived notions of good and bad, while at the same placing circumstances or conditions around them, that display with their actions and words, whether they are good, bad, or both.
I will be doing a lot of this in my current WIP and leave it up to audience to decide, if The God Killer is as bad as he sounds, or if he is indeed an angel walking the earth.
If you put aside the ideas you had of right or wrong, good or bad, then you can develop your characters, in a more in-depth and three dimensional manner, and the audience may not even realize what you did. But they WILL like or hate your characters more. They will become more invested, in the story you have to share.
I hope this article helps others, and at the very least, makes aspiring authors consider how they create their characters. Please share this with others if you found it useful.
Until I type once more…