Writing from the Anti-Hero’s POV

Who’s insecure? You’re insecure!

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!

The Insecure aWriter's Support Group badhe

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Shades of Memory

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Once upon a bright Californian desert, I lived in fear of the sun.

That fear might have been inspired by an incident with a seat buckle when I was a toddler. Back then, car seats exposed more metal than what’s allowed today. I don’t remember the incident but know I witnessed my sister burn on her seat that heated in the desert sunlight coming in on her side of the car. The babysitter said she screamed and screamed. The burn left a permanent scar on my sister and (maybe) emotional ones on me.

I’m not sure I liked direct sunlight or heat before that. My parents insisted that I stay out in the sun on decks and beaches long enough for my skin to burn, and I remember wanting to stay inside. I do believe the incident in the car intensified my fears.

We moved north to green woods and valleys deepened by whitewater rivers. My family complained of the overcast skies that lasted for months. I explored the cool shadows of the forests.

Sure, animals that could eat me lived in the shadows, too. I knew to avoid routines while outside during the dawn or dusk, those glorious times between night and day when shadows filled with rainbow colors. Those were hunting times. I hunted for beauty.

I’ve known since early childhood how to avoid dangers where the light is dimmer. Don’t look like prey. Feel for each step. Know the difference between a baby oak and poison oak–I mean, know what’s actually dangerous. These are important lessons for living in the shadows.

foggy mountain rang at dusk

In my twenties, I learned to live in cities. The human to non-human ratio is higher in urban environments than it is in the country. Most of the dangerous predators are of the same species as their prey. Construction interferes with routes as much as weather does. Toxins are everywhere in higher doses than one finds in an old-growth forest.

Shade can take on new meanings* with greater exposure to human cultures. Shadows are cast by the people who attract the most notice.

As a writer, I like to take the places and types of characters hidden behind stereotypes. They’re buried in history. They’re too alien/unfamiliar. The characters aren’t the typical age or gender, or they’ve blurred the lines between heroes and villains. I blend the light and the dark. That looks familiar to me.

These days, I also try to fill shadows with rainbows.

That’s what I’d needed when I was younger.


* Just Wanna Share: “Throwing Shade”

What is the correct usage of ‘throwing shade’?” on Stack Exchange