I have been dealing with a difficult man all day long. I know some of you ladies will say, “I do that every day.” I suspect you are correct, but I hope you aren’t dealing with a guy like this. I’ve been writing the part of my antagonist most of the day today. The particular scenes I’m working on require me to get inside his head and look at his thinking. It’s a bit like walking a tightrope.
My character is a bad guy…not just because he is the foil to the heroine, he really is a bad man. We probably all know an evil character or two. But, very, very few people are completely evil. Bad guys still have good thoughts, sometimes they even do good things. That’s the nature of mankind, the best of us is stained with evil and the worst of us have shining spots of good. C. S. Lewis once wrote that “You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness…no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong—only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him…Goodness is, so to speak, itself; badness is only spoiled goodness.” Pleasure, money, sex, and power are not bad things in and of themselves. However, their pursuit can be corrupted and become evil. That is, evil is pursuing good things in a bad way or for an evil reason. Evil intent enters at the point where “you shall be like God,” becomes “you shall be as God.” Let the grammar police squeal over that one.
So, my man is a bad guy. He really doesn’t mind hurting people to get what he wants. But, he has wants, ambitions, and emotions just like everyone else. He has been, hurt, belittled and bullied. I want readers to get that and be a little sympathetic, but not too sympathetic…he has more evil to do. I don’t really want readers to like him, just see he’s human and when they see he’s confused by events to feel his confusion. It’s not as easy as having him rob a train or kick the dog.
I found inspiration for his latest plight in the plethora of modern virtue signalers. People whose personal makeup makes them superior and worthy of a special celebration denied lesser beings. He does evil things, but because he believes himself a victim, he is justified in whatever he does. Vengeance is a political theme today. Vengeance does require a specific event, just a feeling of being victimized.
If you have been victimized by another person, you have my sympathy and my apology on behalf of mankind. I will tell you seeking vengeance or some special dispensation is not a stop you wish to make on the road to recovery. My advice to my character’s mental battle is, lassiez les bon temps rouler.