“Would you say that in general, no matter the provocation, that your main character can not do a despicable act? OK that is unfair and too general. But in general, is it a problem when our hero or heroine sinks to the level of the killer that they chase? Are there exceptions as in self defense?”
Good question Rob, and I will do my best to answer.
While some authors do let their protagonists sink as low as the bad guys, it is usually under extreme provocation and the character is already set up as a maverick so to speak. Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole is a good example. He is not above breaking the law or killing people when he sees it as necessary to save someone else.
There are other characters, like Parker’s Spenser, who bend the rules but what makes it work is that they are at heart good people doing good things. The readers relate to that goodness and accept a temporary fall from grace. That is especially true if the character does not like the fact that he or she has to resort to lawlessness and killing. One element that separates the protagonist and antagonist in a murder mystery is that the antagonist likes what he or she is doing and has no intention of ever stopping.
One thing to keep in mind when creating characters is that they are all human, so nobody is totally good or bad. Even antagonists usually have some small redeeming quality that connects with readers. Think of Hannibal Lector and his affinity for classical music. And protagonists have their dark side. That is part of what makes them three-dimensional, but they differ from the antagonist in that they try to avoid the dark side whenever possible, only going there as a last resort.
Thanks again, Rob for submitting the question and have fun with your next character.
|Rob Walker is the author of numerous books, the latest is Dead On, a suspense novel.|
|Visit Maryann Miller's Web site for information about her books and her editing services. If you have a good book, she can help you make it better. When she is not working, Maryann loves to play "farmer" on her little ranch in the beautiful Piney Woods of East Texas.|