Today’s word count: 3031 words
NANTUCKET word count to date: 40,071 words
HARPER word count to date: 3,868 words
There’s something I’ve been working on, little by little: writing “too nicely”. By that I mean, not being able to really tell the truth of the story I’m working on, the truth of who my characters are.
It’s like I have this little brush, and a bucket of white paint, and I’ve been trained to whitewash everything. I want to make everything, and everyone, nice.
It probably wouldn’t be so bad if the stories that are in me to tell are romances. (Well, it probably still isn’t a good thing, but perhaps it wouldn’t be quite as bad.)
But the stories that I want to tell are very different. Mostly the stories that I want to tell are epic thrillers – lots of action, the ultimate fight between good and evil. Not quite that baldly, but it’s there. That type of novel requires a really good bad guy or you know, the thing falls flat on its face.
A while back I watched the pilot episode of a series on DVD, and it bored me to tears. It had a great premise, involving good guys with some really lovely superpowers. And it was beyond boring – because (and I knew this right away) the “bad guy” was really inadequate. Milquetoast. Not much of a challenge, although everyone treated the whole thing as quite the challenge.
I think it was then that I saw this same situation reflected in a lot of my own story scenarios. I come up with a lot of great ideas, but I don’t let my characters be who they are.
My good guys are way too nice. Way, way, way too nice. And my bad guys? Seriously, show them a picture of a kitten and they’re purring right along with the cute little thing.
These stories I’m telling deserve more than whitewashing. They deserve my total honesty as a writer. So that’s another thing I’m working on. Taking the “too nice” out of my writing.
What about you? If you write thrillers or epic fantasies or murder mysteries – if you write anything that requires that you show the clash between good and evil – how do you handle the bad guy? Do you ever find yourself making him/her be nicer than he/she really is?