Writing from the Anti-Hero’s POV

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The good news is that today is March’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) day.

What IWSG does on the first Wednesday of each month is prompt writers to blog about writing-related fears, doubts, and successes. Participants are then encouraged to support each other in comments.*

Today’s Question:

Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

My answer is associated to why I have also called my site Shadows in Mind. Traditional heroes and unsympathetic villains are difficult to understand, and clear cut conflicts are too often unbelievable to capture my interest. I write gray (shadowy) characters and conflicts.

I enjoy writing in gray areas where the difference between heroism and villainous behavior is the reader’s perspective. I think “Grotesquery” is a good example of that with each fearful protagonist an antagonist while trying to do good.

So, I’m most comfortable writing from a hero who is their own antagonist. (I’ve been blessed with a great amount of experience!) For fiction, this type of character is referred to as an anti-hero.

I understand that many writers intentionally avoid anti-heroes, but the typical hero and villain are too challenging for me to write.

Quick and Dirty Glossary

Are you wondering about my use of these literary terms? Because the meanings of these character types are subject to opinion. Here are simplified definitions based on mine.

Hero:

The Good Guy fighting against evil. This character is often an ideal of virtues.

Protagonist:

A character who moves along the story by striving for a goal; often, the hero.

Villain:

The Big Evil, often despicable. Not to be confused (in fiction, anyway) with a lower society person from the country.

Antagonist:

A character creating obstacles for the protagonist(s).

Anti-hero:

A Bad Guy fighting against evil -or- a character whose personality and actions share are a mix of typical hero and villain traits.


*Please be patient as I figure out how to leave appropriate comments and quickly respond to the wonderful support here. Your comments are appreciated!

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4 Comments

  1. I love heroes who are their own antagonists! It’s so true to life. Even when there is some big, bad, evil person to defeat, the best heroes often has to overcome their own issues first.

    1. (I’m floating out of the dark woods to catch up on responses, the best I know how. My issues are walls at times. 😅)

      Internal conflict is an essential part of fictional drama as a whole. I think I lean towards making that a bigger than the external conflict, which makes the heroes less like the youth charging into adventure fraught with giant monsters and more like Gray Luke Skywalker trying to figure out how to balance the Light Side and Dark Side while the universe makes demands.

  2. I like my antagonists to be good people who just headed down the wrong road sometime in the past. It adds additional nuances to their characters. Besides, it’s too hard for me to get inside the heads of really bad people.

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