Den onde/The bad guy

Jeg har bedt om inspiration til emner her på bloggen i forhold til skrivekurser. Jeg er blevet belønnet med lang række, så nu er det bare om at gå i gang. Jeg har valgt: ”Hvordan skriver man en ond person?”

Det lyder måske umiddelbart som en nem opgave, men selvom man har evnen til at skabe en dyb, spændende og facetteret karakter, så er der stor forskel på at skabe en god (normal) person og en ond. For de flestes tilfælde er det nemt at relatere til en normal og god person. Det kan være langt sværere at relatere til en, der er ond; og når det er svært at relatere, så er det, vi mange gange kommer til at lave stereotyper.

Som beskrevet i et tidligere indlæg på bloggen handler personkreationen om at skabe virkelige mennesker. Og virkelige mennesker har mål i livet. De har noget, der motiverer dem, noget, de drømmer om, noget, de frygter og noget, der driver dem frem. Det samme er gældende for den onde person. Han eller hun har mange facetter, og hovedmålet, eller motivationen, er måske ikke i sig selv noget, der er ondt. For eksempel er en massemorders egentlige ønske måske at blive beundret, hvilket dækker over et helt grundlæggende behov for kærlighed … Og så er det så din opgave at beskrive, hvorfor han vælger at slå mennesker ihjel i stedet for at stille op i X-Factor eller blive dygtig til at spille fodbold.

Der er mange grader af ondskab. Der er mange motiver, der kan drive en person til onde handlinger. Har vi at gøre med en, der virkelig er gennemsyret af ondskab, en rendyrket psykopat uden den mindste grad af medfølelse, eller er det den misforståede, egentligt gode, person, som blot er kommet på afveje, en, som kan angre og gøre det godt igen? I begge tilfælde: hvad driver så personen, og i hvilke dialoger og situationer får vi som læsere deres ondskab at se?

En ond person kan godt være elskelig. Hvordan hænger det sammen? Jo, vi kender dem alle sammen. ”Jeg falder for skurken”-syndromet. Den charmerende, vittige og selvsikre skurk, som man ikke kan lade være med at holde med, selvom han eller hun hele tiden spænder ben for helten. Dette handler om, at skurken er blevet skrevet som en interessant, charmerende og tiltrækkende person til trods for de ”onde” tendenser. Tænk på Hannibal Lecter! Jeg tænker stadig, at han må være uhyre interessant at tale med over en flaske Amarone.

De rigtigt onde, de gennemsyrede onde, som vi nok mest vil betegne som psykopater, er ofte enspændere, som ikke gider eller kan det sociale. De kan også være typen med undersåtter, der følger dem blindt i tykt og tyndt. Psykopaterne evner dog ikke at have nogen form for kærlighed til deres følge, og derfor bliver følgerne også tit betragtet som værende ret uintelligente.

Igen handler det om at have gjort karakteren levende, dyb og virkelig. Få beskrevet, hvad der driver dem, hvad deres mål er, hvad deres frygt og drømme er. Når blot personen er gjort nuanceret og dyb, kan han eller hun beskrives som ond eller god, hvad man end lyster. Opbygningen af karakteren ligger i beskrivelsen af deres historie: Hvem svigtede dem? Hvem gjorde dem ondt? Hvorfor evner de ikke kærlighed? Har de mistet nogen? Eller er det en, der selv som barn var den rene ondskab? Druknede de lillesøster eller hundehvalpen? Skubbe de deres bedste ven ud foran et tog? Lad læseren se dem igennem andres øjne, igennem baggrundshistorien, igennem deres ønsker og drømme. Har de altid været onde, eller var der et vendepunkt?

Undgå nu for alt i verden de stereotype beskrivelser og dialoger! Undgå den onde, kolde latter, det iskolde blik, den hævnlystne dialog lige før mordet og alt det der: ”Jeg har ventet på dette øjeblik hele mit liv …. Yada, yada”. Det er fladt og kedeligt, uinspireret. Skab noget fantastisk i stedet.

Brug nu al den gode litteratur, der allerede eksisterer. LÆS, LÆS, LÆS. Hvordan er det, de dygtige forfattere får beskrevet de fabelagtige, onde karakterer, som vi kender (og elsker). Find jeres yndlingsromaner frem, genlæs dialogerne, miljøet, historien. Find de linjer og paragraffer, der har givet historien og karaktererne liv. Læs Stephen King! Han er fantastisk til de onde karakterer … næsten alt for uhyggeligt god til dem, faktisk …

Uden at nævne navne er jeg netop blevet færdig med en roman (nummer to i en serie, faktisk, hvor jeg fortryder, at jeg fortsatte efter etteren), hvor forfatteren åbenbart kun er i stand til at beskrive én slags ond karakter. Karakteren er så stereotyp og ensidig, at jeg et langt stykke hen i historien troede, at det var den samme onde person, som var med i etteren, hvilket forvirrede mig grundigt, da historien skulle forestille at foregå med århundreder imellem. Det var det jo netop ikke! Det var en ny karakter, to hundrede år senere i historien, men han var beskrevet nøjagtigt ligesom den første med samme historie, samme karaktertræk, samme måde at tale og tænke på. (Dette går i øvrigt igen med samtlige hovedpersoner i bogen: samme helt, samme stærke kvinde, samme barn, samme leder, samme katastrofe, etc.) Jeg må indrømme, at dette er den sidste bog af denne forfatter, som jeg gider læse. Så nummer tre må forblive et mysterium for mig. Jeg tænker så også, at jeg nok allerede kender både personer og plot uden at have læst den … Og hvem gider være sådan en forfatter?

En ond karakter ser højest sandsynligt ikke sig selv som ond. Han ligner andre mennesker på de fleste punkter. Han er stærk, intelligent, motiveret. De fleste ville respektere ham, og de fleste respekterer ham sandsynligvis, da de ikke ved, han er ond (tænk: American Psycho). Han er helten, bare med et mål, der er ondt. Han har måske en familie, børn, som han er god imod, en gammel mor, han tager sig af, en enlig nabo, han hjælper. Han kan forekomme ekstremt elskelig. Han har noget, der driver ham mod det onde: jalousi, vrede, bitterhed, hævnsyge. Eller som beskrevet ovenover er han rendyrket psykopat, der faktisk ikke behøver motivationen, men bare er ond, fordi han synes, det er sjovt eller det driver ham på en måde.

Start med en beskrivelse af deres fysik, alder, miljø. Så gå videre med motivation og historie: hvad driver dem, og hvad skete der, der fik det til at opstå? Hvad er en nutidig hændelse, der viser dette, og hvordan ser man det udspillet i plottet her og nu. Sørg for, at alle detaljer er troværdige, at de funderet i noget, som en læser kan forstå og følge, om end det er ondt. Hvis den onde karakter skal ende med at blive god, så sørg for, at der er noget tidligt i karakterens historie, der gør, at man som læser kan tro på, at de faktisk kan omvendes. Det må gerne være komplekst, det er i mine øjne det mest læseværdige, men det skal stadig være sådan, at læseren føler, at karakteren er troværdig. Det skal være motiveret. Det skal være nuanceret. Det skal være velskrevet.

Hvis du har andre spørgsmål, er du altid velkommen til at skrive en kommentar. Så skal jeg nok svare.

………….

I have asked for inspiration concerning new subjects for this blog regarding writing courses. I have been gifted with a whole bunch of ideas, and now all I have to do is get to work. I have chosen: ”How to write a bad guy.”

It may sound like an easy matter at first, but even though you have the ability to create a deep, interesting and facetted character, there is a big difference between creating a good (normal) person and a bad one. For most people it’s easy to relate to a normal and good person. It can be quite harder relating to one, who is evil; and when it is hard to relate, we tend to swerve towards creating stereotypes.

As described in an earlier blog post creating character is about creating real people. And real people have goals in life. They have something that motivates them, something they dream about, something they fear and something that drives them. The same is the case with an evil person. He or she has many facets, and the main goal, or the motivation, might not in itself be something evil. For example, a mass murderer’s true wish might be to be admired which shelters a completely basic need to be loved … And then it’s your job to describe why he chooses to kill a bunch of people instead of signing up for X-Factor or become good at playing soccer.

There are many degrees of evil. There are many motives that can drive a person to do evil deeds. Are we dealing with someone who is truly infused with evil, a sheer psychopath without even a glimmer of compassion, or the misunderstood, originally good, person, who’s just strayed off the road, someone, who can repent and make good? In both cases: what drives the person, and in what dialogue and situation can we, as readers, see their evil?

An evil person can be lovable. How does that fit? Well, we all know them. The ”I fall for the bad guy”- syndrome. The charming, witty and self-assured bad guy who you can’t help but root for even though he or she constantly gets in the way of the hero. This happens when the bad guy has been described as an interesting, charming and attractive person despite the evil tendencies. Think Hannibal Lecter! I can’t help but think he would be truly interesting to talk to while sharing a bottle of Amarone.

The truly evil, those permeated with evil, whom we most likely would call psychopaths are most often loners who doesn’t want to or can’t do the social thing. They can also be the kind with minions who follow them blindly. The psychopaths however can’t feel any kind of love for their followers and therefor, the followers often come off as unintelligent.

Again, this is about making the character real, deep and alive. Describe what drives them, what their goals are, what their fears and dreams are. When only the character has been made nuanced and deep, he or she can be described as evil or good, whatever you like. The building of the character lies in the description of their story: Who failed them? Who made them evil? Why aren’t they capable of love? Did they lose someone? Or is it someone who even as a child was pure evil? Did they drown their little sister or the puppy? Did they push their best friend in front of a train? Let the reader see them through other people’s eyes, through the background story, through their wishes and dreams. Were they always evil, or was there a turning-point?

No matter what do avoid those stereotype descriptions and dialogues! Avoid the evil, cold laughter, the ice-cold stare, the vengeful dialogue just before the murder and all that: “I have been waiting for this moment my entire life … yada, yada”. It’s flat and it’s boring, uninspired. Create something amazing instead.

Do use all the good literature that already exists. READ, READ, READ. How do the skilled writers describe those fabulous, evil characters that we know (and love). Find your favorite novels, reread the dialogues, the environments, the stories. Find those lines and paragraphs that gave the story and the characters life. Read Stephen King! He is fantastic at describing those evil characters … almost too scarily good at it, actually …

 

Without mentioning any names, I just finished a novel (the second one in a series, actually, where I regret continuing after the first one), wherein the author apparently isn’t capable of describing more than one kind of evil character. The character is so stereotype and one-sided that I far into the story believed that it was the same evil character from the first book, which confused me profoundly seeing that this story was supposed to continue centuries apart. This wasn’t the same at all. This was a new character, two centuries later into the story, but he was described in the exact same way as the first one with the same story, same traits, same way of talking and thinking. (This by the way also happened with every other main character in the book: same hero, same strong woman, same kid, same leader, same disaster, etc). I have to admit this is the last book by this author I am ever going to read. Number three will remain a mystery to me. However, I believe I already know both characters and plot without having read it … And who wants to be such a writer?

And evil character most likely doesn’t see himself as evil. For the most, he looks like other people in every way. He is strong, intelligent, motivated. Most people would respect him, and most do respect him since they don’t know that he is evil (think: American Psycho). He is the hero, only with a goal that is evil. He might have a family, children, whom he is kind to, an elderly mother, he takes care of, a lonely neighbor he helps. He can seem extremely likable. He has something that drives him towards evil: jealousy, bitterness, revenge. Or as described above he is a pure psychopath who actually doesn’t need the motivation but just is evil because he thinks it’s funny or it somehow drives him.

Start with a description of their physique, age, environment. Continue with their motivation and story: what drives them, and what happened that made it so? What is a current even that shows this, and how do you see it in the plot happening now? Make sure all details are believable, that they are funded in something that a reader can understand and follow even if it’s evil. If the evil character is bound to end up good make sure there is something early in the character’s story that makes it believable for the reader that they can actually change. It’s okay for it to be complex, to me that’s actually what’s more read-worthy, but it still has to be so that the reader feels the character is believable. It must be motivated. It must be nuanced. It must be well-written.

If you have other questions, you are always welcome to write a comment. I will answer.

 

About Louise Andersen

I am an author, a creative soul, passionate about literature, music, art. I am also the mother of twins, navigating through heaps of washings, runny noses, boxed lunches and what other practicalities ordinary life drags along ... In love with my family, with life, with words, wonders and magic. Welcome to my world.
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