Is there such a thing as a plain and simple “bad guy” who isn’t a laughable cartoon, in real life or in fiction? (I can already hear someone saying “Donald Trump!” but where does one draw the line between bad guy and cartoon?) Does making a bad guy character more interesting (giving him/her a backstory that explains how she/he came to be the way he/she is) necessitate making that character seem less evil? I’m not sure if WFODers have many thoughts on this topic, since most of our stories don’t seem to involve straight-up bad guys, but the issue has arisen in the planning of Rosedawn, and I think Bren deserves a bad guy who is worth space on the page.
The problem is this: having realized that a “bad guy” I had planned for Rosedawn wasn’t all that interesting, I gave her a personality and backstory, and now I’m writing a side story for just that character and deciding I kind of like her—which is rough because Bren was supposed to kill her.
Now I’m not even sure I want to kill her.
Don’t get me wrong; she does evil stuff, but one lesson I’ve learned is that a character (or person) can do evil stuff and still not deserve death.
I’m plotting a sneaky workaround, but now I’m pondering the question: Did I make a mistake trying to build up this character? Maybe I could have gotten away with “just plain evil.” What constitutes just plain evil in real life? Should Bren do battle with Hitler?
*~Fiction is hard~*