Tag Archives: offensive

Authors Answer 59 – Characters of the Dark Side

Star Wars: The Force Awakens has just opened to sold out audiences, and everyone loves the original trilogy’s villain, Darth Vader. But he is a favourite of many fans’. What about characters that are absolutely hated by readers? But what if those characters are hated by their creators?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 59 – Have you ever written a character so offensive that you hated or strongly disliked them?

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Yessir! But don’t worry, she’s evolved. She’s the main character from the four-part YA-fantasy series I’m writing right now, but she (and the story itself) have changed a massive amount since I first started writing it. Originally I started writing this particular story back in college, and I was using it as a form of cathartic therapy after my boyfriend of five years broke up with me. Because of a combination of little experience in professional story-writing and the wave of hormones that you can imagine would be sweeping through a 20-year-old who’d just been dumped, the story and the main character were just GOD AWFUL. My MC was basically the whiniest little brat you can imagine, who wouldn’t stop sobbing over the fact that the guy she’d loved had left her. My intention was for the character to grow and become strong and powerful and ultimately save an entire world, but my FOCUS was on making this character as pitiful as I felt. As a result, when I re-read what I’d written a few years later I almost threw up at how horrible it was. It was the kind of crap you actually see on bookshelves sometimes and think, “No wonder teenagers are idiots with crap like this to read.”

Jean Davis

Yes. In a novel I wrote called Swan Queen, there is an evil uncle, who I intended to make a good antagonist by being evil with the best intentions. However, he crossed over to extra evil when he jokes about molesting his niece and kills his son’s puppy. Not only did I hate him, readers hated him, which works I suppose, but I’ll have to revisit him once I iron out that stories whole plot and see if he needs that level of evil to be truly effective.

S. R. Carrillo

Oh, yeah. Variety is the spice of life, after all. I can’t love every single one of my characters because then that’d likely mean they were all one-dimensional – or, at the very least, too similar to one another. Think of all those characters you “love to hate” – the author had to have felt the same at one point or another.

Elizabeth Rhodes

Back in high school I would write role-plays with friends of mine and a character named Jenna surfaced.  She was a teenage drunk with a horrible personality who loved to pick on my friend’s gay male character.  I played her as a villain, and I hated her.  She was actually the result of personal issues I was struggling with at the time and a means for me to vent my anger toward substance abuse.  Looking back, I regret creating her.

Eric Wood

I have. His name was Johnny and he was an ignorant, abusive man. It was far from the genre of children’s lit that I was accustomed to writing in. I really despised this guy. But he got what was coming to him in the end. That’s the beauty of being the author.

H. Anthe Davis

So far in my entire series, I’ve only had one character whom I truly dislike.  Of course, since I wrote him, I’m the one who made him unlikable and reprehensible, so I can’t really say that I hate him — more that he’s serving his purpose in the story.  Everyone is supposed to hate him.  It’s also my job to humanize him, and to understand how and why he took such a wrong turn in his life; I don’t like writing flat villains, and unlike the readers I can see how he could have turned out better.  So really, there’s only distaste and pity and my plans for his demise.

Allen Tiffany

Great question. This is much harder than it sounds, it seems to me. To really make a dislikable character that is not a caricature is tough. But yes, I’ve create a few that I have not liked. I did so by thinking about the people in my life that I most disliked. Not just disagreed with, but really hated because of their behaviors and what they have done to other people. Then I had some humanity to them, and hope the mix makes a despicable, realistic character.

Caren Rich

Yes, I just did for NaNoWriMo. He’s such a detestable character that I wrote two endings to the novel. This character is murdered early on in the book, the rest of the book you find out how awful he really was. In one ending the killer is caught by authorities and in the other the killer gets away with it. He really deserved to die! Mystery readers can be very particular about how a book ends, but I really like the second ending.

Paul B. Spence

I don’t find all of my antagonists to be loathsome, but there’s bad, and then there’s evil, and most of the bad guys in my books are really, really evil.

The big bads in my stories are like Hitler and Stalin if they’d been given unlimited power and access to infinite worlds. They are literally older than time itself, at least in our galaxy, and HATE on a level that humans can’t even comprehend. So, yes, I hate them. Anybody who doesn’t, I would seriously worry about.

Gregory S. Close

I really hope so.  There are a couple of villains that I’ve written that are pretty twisted and sick, and if I liked them I’d be worried about myself.  Also, there are a few protagonists that are right on the line, sometimes!

D. T. Nova

Intentionally so, but I wound up disliking him so much that I’ve put more emphasis on another antagonist’s dislike of him than I had in mind at the start.

Jay Dee Archer

There’s one I’ve created that I would find a horrible person if he really existed. I don’t see much in the way of good in him, but he believes he’s doing the right thing. He’s a jerk, prejudiced, and won’t hesitate to kill to get what he wants. I do have another character I wouldn’t like, but her future is a lot more positive, eventually.

How about you?

If you are a writer, have you created a character you hate? If you are a reader, is there a character you hate? Let us know in the comments below.

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Authors Answer 42 – To Be PC or Not To Be PC

Political correctness has taken over, hasn’t it? It seems that almost anything can offend someone, so we make sure everything is gender neutral, religiously neutral, racially neutral, and so on. We don’t want to offend anyone, do we? But what about in literature? Should we be PC?

320px-Modern-ftn-pen-cursiveQuestion 42: Does political correctness have a place in your writing?

H. Anthe Davis

I’m not sure what this means.  I don’t write Earth cultures, so the societies are different.  People fight about different things.  I do keep an eye out for story-elements that could be construed as racist/sexist from our perspective, but my personal opinion is that most of those problems, in fiction, come from treating the characters as props instead of people.  Since I try to fully flesh out my characters and their cultures, no matter how minor, I think it goes some way toward heading off those complaints.  Though I suppose there is one thing I do: I avoid derogatory terms for women or femininity unless they’re really necessary, because those just piss me off.

Paul B. Spence

Obviously you haven’t read my writing. J No, I don’t tend to be particularly politically correct, which is not to say I’m offensive for the sake of being offensive. I try to make sure I’m only offending the people I want to offend.

Caren Rich

Don’t get me started on this! I equate political correctness with censorship. My mama always told me there was a way to state your opinion without it being a personal attack. And she’s right. The first amendment guarantees you the right to BE offended. My high school government teacher was a brilliant woman. She told us repeatedly she would rather racists, and others, have the right to say what they want. That way you knew who they are.

In writing, we have to be true to our characters. People are not perfect and life is messy. We need to remember that when we write. It’s hard. I know I have a little voice that creeps up and yells, “Don’t write that! Your mama won’t like it.” At that point I have to re-evaluate what I’ve written and the character, to make sure that it’s still true to the story and character.

I’m not saying you should run out and write hate filled books and call it literature.  But at the same time, there is a way to write about difficult or unpopular ideas.

Eric Wood

It depends on the time period I’m writing. If I’m writing current material then political correctness has it’s place. I’ve written a few pieces where political correctness went out the window simply because my characters weren’t politically correct. I tend to be a PC person so my characters usually are, also. Writing non-PC is tough for me if I’m writing in the current time period.

Jean Davis

I try to portray my characters as honestly as possible. Some of them aren’t very politically correct. Some of them are. It’s not something that I give much thought to when shaping a story.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Yes and no. I do make a conscious effort to avoid the kinds of things that tend to offend people and get them all riled up. However, I don’t hold back if I feel the story warrants it. So, for instance, in “Nowhere to Hide” there is a fair bit of profane language, because I felt that it would be ridiculously unlikely that everyone would remain prim and proper in the face of flesh-eating undead monsters. Above all else a writer has to make their story feel like it could really happen, to get their reader to fall deep into the world, and if you avoid political incorrectness it could very well be at the cost of making your characters and your story feel unrealistic.

Gregory S. Close

No.  Although delivering a sensible and honest diversity in my writing to engage the broadest possible base of readers does have a place.  I work to make sure that I represent different genders, outlooks, sensibilities, orientations etc. in a fair and honest way, both to the character and the delivery of story.

For example, I would never place a gay character into a story just to check off a “gay” box, but I certainly try to be aware that gay people exist, and that when creating a character it’s a realistic question to ask – is this character gay?  If the character is gay, how does that affect the character’s place in the story, or society, or with other characters?  The same question should be asked of other characteristics – should the character be black or white, male or female, etc. Star Wars fan or Star Trek, that sort of thing.

Short answer: I don’t really care about being politically correct, but I do want to be fair.  (I guess I should have just led with that)!

Allen Tiffany

No. I don’t think about political correctness at all. The only correctness I think about is how “correct” is the story and my story telling.

Linda G. Hill

I have to say yes. And no. If I’m narrating something in a novel I try to stay as unoffensive as possible. My characters on the other hand are bound to say anything that’s in their nature to say. I have very little control over them – if I try to control them it’s obvious, and my writing becomes boring to read.

D. T. Nova

That depends very much on what is meant by the term. Many things which I have seen some people denounce as “political correctness” were almost certainly not included for any such reason. I strongly suspect that, for example, the diverse relationships in my first novel would fall into that category.

I have said before that I do intentionally include characters who represent groups that I consider to be underrepresented.

However, I don’t intentionally pander to anything I don’t agree with. If I think a belief or practice is very harmful, I will not portray it without depicting the harm.

S. R. Carrillo

In general, my feelings toward actual political correctness are a little conflicted. What people consider PC is usually just an attempt at legitimate correctness, maybe not executed the best. So, sure. I guess you could say PC is in my books, although I stay away from labeling most things at all.

Jay Dee Archer

I will only use political correctness if it’s appropriate. That is, if it’s related to government, public relations, or customer service within a novel. All other situations, I’ll keep things more realistic. In everyday life, we don’t speak politically correct in general. So why should characters in a novel behave and speak politically correct? I don’t think they should.

If I have an offensive character, whether he or she is racist, sexist, foul-mouthed, or whatever else he or she may be, they will be offensive. I will not censor my character to protect the feelings of readers. Besides, when you read my novels, I want you to be offended by an offensive character. If you get upset with a character, then I did my job well.

Keep this in mind: the attitudes and opinions of my characters do not reflect my personal attitudes or opinions.

How about you?

If you’re a writer, how much does political correctness factor into your writing? If you’re a reader, do you feel novels should be politically correct? Let us know in the comments below.