Today's word: ANTI-HERO. Do you ever have an anti-hero in your writing? I don't mean antagnosist, as that is a character far different from the anti-hero. The anti-hero is usually an ordinary person thrust into extraordinary circumstances, perhaps by his own volition, perhaps by society's inability to control certain situations, perhaps by the protagonist or the antagonist of the story.
The "hero" of the story, often the protagonist or main character but not always, is
usually portrayed as more attractive, stronger, braver, more intelligent, more charismatic, than anyone else. On the other hand, the anti-hero ( or anti-heroine) is simply "the boy/girl next door" type, no more handsome/prettier, braver, more intelligent, etc., than any other character in the story. Often this person is not someone whom the reader thinks will take a major role.
As the story evolves, you find this person doing bad things...lying, stealing, perhaps even killing...until you realize that he/she is doing these things for a specific reason that is for the good of someone else, usually the protagonist. The anti-hero can be corrupt but not evil or villainous. He does what he does for the good of someone else, or for what he perceives is the good of society... killing the murderer or rapist who, for lack of real evidence or because of a technicality, gets a "not guilty" verdict from the jury.
So how do you know if you have an anti-hero? Here are some of the qualities most anti-heroes have:
- He's a flawed character
- He is often disillusioned with society, and this can be society in general, or in school, in business, in a family situation, etc.
- He thinks more about what is right for him than what is the moral thing to do
- He often thinks of revenge in some form for the "good" of his best friend, or family, or even society in general
- He could be thought of as a vigilante, but the qualities normally attributed to the villain who is also often thought of as a vigilante, such as violence and amorality, are tempered in the anti-hero with more human qualities such as idealism and a love of what he considers true justice.
So if you have a character with noble motives, and who pursues those motives by breaking the law in some way...believing that the ends justify the means... you don't have an antagonist, you have an Anti-Hero!
Until next time,
That's a wrap.