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So week three of the archetype series is here! We’ve covered heroes and villains now. What about the people in between those two? That is where the antihero emerges from the shadows…
So what are these dark characters? Is there any limits they will place on achieving their goals? Why are they some of the most popular characters in modern fiction? Where do we find examples in the real world? And why would you use one of these in your story?
So the anti-hero is a kind of interesting term. If you took the name literally you would think “That’s just another name for a villain”. The anti-hero is not a straight up villain though. In fact most hold many of the same traits as heroes. An anti-hero is normally motivated by a desire to help others (often a single person, or small group of people). It is common that they fight against villains or corrupted individuals. They even normally feel as though they are doing the right thing.
What makes them more like villains, and makes them contrast heroes are their methods. For instance, a hero normally allows a justice system have the criminal. An anti-hero “removes” them, or carries out the full judgement themselves. They tend to see the world as all shades of gray, and are incapable of seeing black or white. Their morals are normally lacking, or have been eroded away. As such they will often go farther than any hero would to achieve their goals. They do tend to have some morals and lines they don’t cross, but these are far fewer than nearly any hero.
You will find that Anti-heroes tend to be dark and gritty. They are written this way to make themselves contrast to your “typical hero”. If they aren’t written as a jagged person, they tend to come off as a crazy or psychotic character (even if unintentionally). These characters tend to mirror our more violent tendency and desires as humans. You know you have wanted to smack that smug smile off that hippocrates face, or break the nose of that bully, or even get payback on that missdeed against you. This is why we find anti-heroes so interesting. They explore the “what ifs” of our darker fantasies.
Will you find these people in the “wild”. Yes, but I hope you don’t especially not as something in their way. They do tend to be criminals, but are ussally the kind that don’t get caught. Occupationaly they are often bounty hunters, mercenaries, and real life vigilantes. The part of society that is on the darker side, that we rather pretend doesn’t exist. I mean we know “bad people” are out there; but the anti-hero is normally a “good person” doing “bad things”, and we don’t like to admit that happens so often.
Back to the world of writing. These characters are good to draw contrast for your heroes. They can be “fallen” heroes, who have had their morals eroded away over the years. They can also be “reformed” villains who have found a new purpose in serving others, but tend to still not have a good moral compass. You could also use them to tell darker stories that might be harder for you to put a typical hero into. Or to tackle the more grim topics of society like corruption. While they do believe they are justified in their actions, the action itself doesn’t have to be a “good” one. They aren’t role models, but they do show that: imperfections don’t a villain make you.
Thanks for reading. You might have noticed I didn’t rant about lazy writers, or modern fiction in this one. That’s because even though these are some of the most popular types of characters out there; they haven’t gotten the abuse that heroes and villains have gotten lately. While it is very possible to write these characters in a lazy fashion; those don’t tend to fly well in the traditional published scene. Even though poorly written heroes and villains have both been squeezing through.
I didn’t introduce the series last week, but I will be exploring some of the major archetypes in littature over the next week or two. Last week I dived into the Hero, so in case you missed it you can find it here: https://christopherjhillger.com/2020/10/08/the-hero/
This week we are exploring the villain. What makes someone a villain? Why do we write them? What are examples we can find in the real world? Are they easier to write like many modern writers claim?
Villains are simply antagonists right? Just someone who opposes the main character, and is only a literary device… Well no. In grade school I was taught that yes, but after diving into creative writing it is clearly false. Villains are in simple terms individuals who’s motivations are solely derived from self serving desires. They will then do whatever they deem necessary to fullfil those desires.
That is a much broader way to see villains huh? Is it true though? Villains are the opposite of heroes, we can probably agree there. Heroes serve others first, so it should stand to reason villains serve themselves first. Heroes go through struggles and over come them keeping higher morals intact. Villains also go through struggles, but sacrifice morals if they deem it necessary to over come those struggles.
So why do we write them? Again, in simple terms, it is to build contrast in the world building. Without villains we don’t see how keeping morals intact is a difficult process when the hero achieves it. It is also easier to understand strife when you can put a face to it. In this way, villains are commonly the antagonist of the story. But that role isn’t what defines them, as we already covered eariler.
That is all well and good in your fantasy land Chris, but what about here in the grayscale that is life? Where are the villains here?
Good question prospective reader. We find villains in our world everyday. From orginized crime, to politicians (not really a range between those huh?), from corporations, to lawyers; villains are all around us.
Now before you come out to hang me, yes there are morally upstanding people in all of those examples (well, maybe not the politicians), but that is more the exception than the rule. In general, most of all those things are completely self-serving. They exist to accumulate power, profit, privilege, and influence, and rarely will avoid tarnishing any morals in the process, especially if the easiest path sacrifices them. In this way I fundamentally disagree with the old saying “you either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. Villains are not born out of worn out heroes, they are born of their own choices along the path of their life.
So, as many modern writers say: villains are more interesting, and easier for readers to connect to right? Wrong!
Villains are easier to write. You don’t have to come up with personal struggles, sacrifice, and meaningful growth to create villains. Heroes are more difficult to write, because why would you keep your morals when you could just break them and get what you wanted now? That is how villains think, they feel heroes are naive or simply uneducated. How then are they more compelling? They are infinitely easier to write though. I don’t need to justify actions with villains, I don’t need to show moral or personal growth with a villain, I don’t need to inspire the reader with a villain. Sure you Can write a villain with some or even all those things, but with heroes you Have to, so it is harder to write those.
In closing, our villain worshipping modern littature disgusts me. I see it as nothing more than lazy writing from children unwilling to grow up. But, in strife, in the muck of the world is where heroes are born. Not out of self-serving desire, but out of self-sacrifice and serving others. We all can rise up and become better people and writers if we simply refuse to compromise our own morals.
Sorry for the late announcement, but my summer of reading sale is just just around the corner! If you haven’t had a chance to read The Sage of Hytrae trilogy, the next few days are going to be exciting! To both encourage and celebrate summer reading my ebooks are going to be heavily discounted as follows.
The Crystal Seal, The intro into the trilogy will be free for 4 days. Those free days are: July 29th – Aug 1st
The Candescent Vessel, and The Sorcerer’s Gamble (Books 2 and 3 in the trilogy respectively) will be on sale for just $0.99 on: July 29th – Aug 3rd
Thank you all for your support throughout the years, and especially lately. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy, and may God bless you and keep you.
The Sage of Hytrae bumper stickers are in. I will be selling these at my booth for $1, or giving them away with book sales. Headed into town now to setup.
Today (and until July 8th) all three of the sage of hytrae books are free to buy on amazon kindle! This is in celebration of a Summer of reading, to help promote more reading through the summer months (especially while in school). So tell your friends, nieces, nephews, kids, grandkids, parents, whoever you know who likes reading or needs to read more!
The Crystal seal (book 1): https://www.amazon.com/Crystal-Seal-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B00VFKJ78A/
The Candescent Vessel (book 2): https://www.amazon.com/Candescent-Vessel-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B01CDIBY2E/
The Sorcerer’s Gamble (book 3): https://www.amazon.com/Sorcerers-Gamble-Sage-Hytrae-Book-ebook/dp/B07KSQTZ2B/
Grab a copy of each today and get a great adventure for the best price out there… Free!
oh, and if you liked them please leave a review. It really helps us self published authors to be discovered by new readers. Thank you for reading!
The Sorcerer’s Gamble is finally able to be ordered as a physical copy! These copies are priced at $9.99 and are available now on amazon.
The Crystal Seal is free (as an ebook) until tomorrow so this could be your last chance to grab the digital copy for free!
Thank you to everyone who has already checked out The Sorcerer’s Gamble, and I hope everyone is as excited as I am that the paperback is out now as well!
The Sage of Hytae trilogy is complete! The Sorcerer’s Gamble is released on Kindle! (Print to follow very soon, just have to finish fixing some print errors today). To celebrate the release The Crystal Seal (book one in the trilogy)is free for the next four days! On top of that The Candesent Vessel is on a count down sale for a week, if you pick it up today you can get it for only 99cents! Those are of course the kindle editions of the books, but still pretty sweet deal.
The Sorcerer’s Gamble is $4.99! (not 5.99 like my other ebooks were their first year so price break there 😀 ). Thank you all for your patience in waiting for the release to finally happen. I hope everyone enjoys the completed series and if at all possible leaves some amazon reviews, and tell your friends (Advertising is expensive and hasn’t been kind to me so far ha ha).
Until next time (when the physical book is actually available I hope). Have a great day!
Today marks the day that The Sage of Hytrae Trilogy is finally complete! Well it would be if Amazon would actually let me release it. It exited review today (which means I should have been able to launch it). But unfortunately since I updated one field (added more keywords >.>) it has to be “reviewed” again… They were able to get this turned around in 48hours last time so hopefully this time will be quicker. Anyway, watch this space for further details. I will be continuing to fight their Kindle filters (hopefully I can get at least one version actually released today). I did not have nearly as many issues when it was createspace and not just amazon, oh well.
Talk to you all again real soon.
I finally uploaded the cover art 😀
You can take a look by clicking the link (it’s in pdf format so WordPress wont imbed it).
Don’t forget, the conclusion to The Sage of Hytrae Trilogy releases Next Week!
I’m afraid I don’t have book cover art to upload with me tonight (I just simply don’t have that PC with me) but I wanted to give a quick update.
I have been able to eliminate all but one pesky formatting issue for the printed book (and the one that is left I have no idea how to fix, and if I cannot fix I can live with it). So all is good to be releasing on schedule next week (wow it’s coming up fast on me). If I can remember to either send my phone the images or get on my home PC to post there I will get the artwork up for everyone to see soon.
Anyway, I just felt like I should drop a quick note (I am not letting my launch date slip a third time). So, see you guys soon!