Good vs. bad is a common theme everywhere. It’s in novels: your protagonist is “good” and no matter what genre you’re writing in, there’s always a “bad” guy who happens to be the villain of the story, your protagonist’s rival, or simply just someone who is mean and considered “bad” by the readers.
This theme pops up (a little too frequently) in real life as well.
It’s probably one of the more common ones and it’s the broadest because there’s so much you can do with it.
But here’s the thing: Everyone has different opinions, different perspectives. So, who exactly is good and who is bad? Who’s right and who’s wrong?
When you think of a hero, you think “good.” When you think of a villain, you think “bad.” We assume the protagonist is automatically good because they’re the “protagonist.” And we assume the antagonist is bad because they’re in competition with the protagonist.
But what exactly is good and what is bad? Who decides?
What makes a character Good?
Good or nice characters typically have certain traits that include, but are not limited to:
- Kind to all
- Cares about others
- Puts others before him/herself
And there’s plenty more, but I could create a whole post on traits alone.
What is the ultimate goal for a good character? They want to help others, save and protect others, etc. They don’t want to help people in order to brag that they did a good deed, either. They simply do something good out of the kindness of their heart and because it’s the right thing to do.
What makes a character Bad?
Similar to the good guy, they’re personality is made up of many traits that allow them to do the evil things they wish.
Like the good guy, there’s more that I could list, but these first popped into my head.
Notice that some traits are the opposite of the good guy’s, but some are the same. For example, brave is a common trait because no matter what you do (evil or not) they need to have the guts to carry through with it. I also put “patient” and “impatient” depending on the type of bad guy. I believe it can go either/or, or just one.
What’s the ultimate goal for any bad guy? They want to get what they want. They try to get that in any way they can whether it’s kidnapping a princess or trying to take over the world, among other ways.
Who is right?
The good guy and the bad guy
A key to creating good guys and bad guys that exist together in the same novel is that they should have a few things in common. One major thing they should have in common is that they both believe they’re the good guy.
Both of their reasons for doing what they do are both right. You yourself might not agree so, but both characters must whole-heartedly believe their the good guy, they’re doing the right thing.
Perspective and Opinion
The author may have the good and bad outlined in their mind as they write the story, but ultimately the reader will decide.
Everyone who reads has a different opinion about what they’ve read. They either like it or don’t like it. They either agree with it or they don’t agree with it. They also have a different perspective. You might think something in the book means one thing, but your friend might interpret it differently. And everyone has a different theory about something.
In other news, I’ve challenged myself to read five books between Sunday, February 19 and Sunday, February 26. Feel free to join me and check out my daily updates on Twitter, Tumblr, and my Bookstagram!