Good, Bad, We’re all In-Between: On Writing the Morality of Characters

Morality is a gray area. But, especially when first writing characters, people tend to forget that evil characters weren’t just steeped in evil since the start of their chaotic cruel existence.

And I can’t judge. Hell, I wrote my first novel where the character was just cackling, surrounded eternally by shadows type of evil. They just wanted to take the throne to all power because they felt wronged. They were Darth Vader, I am your father, psyche, Luke! level of evil.

Nobody’s either good or evil. Fairytales might enjoy their cackling witches and mustache-twirling warlocks, but reality isn’t anywhere close to black and white. Like life, it’s just a gray area.

And nobody’s innocent farm kid I want to take up a sword and kill the dragon good either. Love doesn’t conquer all, call me jaded, but sometimes, characters have to take the loss too.

But don’t get me wrong! Just because I’m bringing up gray areas of morality for characters, doesn’t mean I don’t support the typical “good versus evil” types of stories. This is just ONE SUGGESTION of a multitude of ways that you can write your story.

You can make all your characters cigar-smoking, beer-slamming antiheroes. You can make them all walk the line between good and evil, lone wolf types. They’re fun! But you can also just make characters who are good at heart, yet also make a few bad mistakes. Or you can create characters who generally make cruel decisions, but are doing so because they want to help their family out and are just pursuing this selfishly.

Morality is relative. Have fun making your morally ambivalent characters come to life.

Or not.

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