After a rather long cruise, I have returned to grace the world with my attempts at witty and comical writing.
The only Your favorite Questing Author has returned to the scene! But this time I’m in a more pensive mood than I usually am when working on this site. Finding that the current topic is one that distresses me on a daily basis, I’ll tone down the sarcasm to a minimum. Maybe.
But as I’ve stated previously and will gladly state again, I have returned. A good thanks to those of you that have enjoyed my content so far and even greater thanks to those of you that were patient enough to wait for my return. But enough stalling, let’s break down my topic. A brief anecdote should serve as a place to start.
During my time at the high seas, when I wasn’t gorging myself with all manner of unhealthy perishables and foodstuffs, I would slink out of my room to have writing sessions.
This was nothing new, as I had no intentions of stopping my writing just to rest at the cruise, but I was able to start getting close to the end of my first arc’s climax. While I was perusing through the conflicts that I had been writing piece by piece in my tale, I found something that was rather interesting. Or uninteresting, depending on which side of this debate you take part in.
My story followed in the tradition of classic Good versus Evil. And this gained strange reactions from me.
At first I was brought back to the time that I started working on my first novel (A failure as with most early projects of writers) and I was dead set on emulating the grey morality that is so prevalent in modern adult fantasy.
I recall that in the first chapter my protagonist had enslaved a family of children. He spoke in tones that made him sound like a saturday morning villain. He literally picked up the ashes of a deceased member of that family and he smashed them on the ground! And that was just because he was in a bad mood!
What baffles me is that I can look back on that now and laugh, but I seriously thought that was some professional tier writing back then.
I was a novice back then, in many ways I still am, but the point was that I didn’t know how to
properly write dark fantasy. I thought this was how “Grimdark” or “Realistic” fantasy was actually supposed to be written.
I found the very idea of absolute morality in fantasy to be a childish plot device which the writing community had grown out of. I thought that characters that could be clearly defined as either being good or evil were automatically less complex than characters that found themselves in a grey zone.
And this is not to say that I loathe all kinds of fantasy that take the grimdark approach to their morality. The fantasy tales that got me sold on the genre were the stories of Elric of Melnibone. To this day the albino swordsman has remained one of my favorite characters in fantasy, and he’s the very epitome of a morally grey character!
It’s just that when I wrote in that style, I limited my ideas just because I wanted to make a morally gray character. I wanted to write morally grey fiction in the beginning because that had been all that I read for a while, but I found that I didn’t enjoy writing that kind of story. There was just a certain sense of wonder that was lost once I took the notions of Good and Evil in my fiction out of the story.
Yet it all seemed like the right thing to do.
I mean, almost everyone that was successful in that time practiced this kind of morality in their fantasy worlds. Everywhere I looked I was told that characters that were hard to pin down on a moral compass were objectively more complex than characters that could be described as just Good or Evil. I believed that somehow making a villain that was just evil by his very nature was a bad thing to do when writing, or that a hero that was a genuinely good person needed an ulterior motive if he wanted to be a good character. And to a certain extent, I can’t blame people for thinking this way.
The time period after the Lord of the Rings had ended was rife with stories of Good and Evil. Everywhere that you looked you had a humble boy rising up from his humble origins to stop a Dark Lord that wanted to destroy the world. You had Dragonlance, The Belgariad, The Wheel of Time, Sword of Shannara, Sword of Truth, etc. And independent of
what you think with regards to the quality of the books that I mentioned, all of us can agree to the fact that Good and Evil had been saturated.
Of course, this all changed once every one got fed up with it. Now our heroes could not really be called heroes. Now our villains that were just villains to be villains were no longer viable characters. And heroes had to have at least one disgusting flaw for them to be worthy of writing. And I feel that this mindset has gotten just as saturated as classic morality in fantasy.
Perhaps the decline of Good and Evil storylines is not as good for us as we might have thought it was. I enjoy some of the morally confused characters of today but even then I’ll always prefer heroes that I can actually care for. Heroes that can truly be said to be heroes.
I remember struggling to find a story with main characters that I genuinely admired back when I returned to reading. I had to go back to books that were written at least 7-10 years ago to find these characters. And it wasn’t just characters that I could relate to, but characters that I could respect.
But apparently now there’s no such thing as a genuinely good or evil person. Current fantasists try to preach the same messages like ‘Heroes are never as simple as we used to think they were’ or ‘Villains can’t just be evil’. And like I’ve been saying, that’s fine, but it’s getting to a point where everyone is just trying to say the same damn things.
And the worst part of it is that mainstream media still praises them as being original!
I’m not trying to make a concise statement with how opinion currently stands. Right now, my opinion on this matter is sure on its core, but I have yet to organize them into completely coherent thoughts.
This won’t be the last that you hear of this which is why I called this article My Thoughts on Good and Evil in Fantasy. It’s just been something that’s been ringing in my head for a while and I needed to bring it up.
Be sure that in the future I’ll discuss this in a more organized fashion but as it stands I have yet to fully vocalize my opinion into words. Once again I’m glad if you have read this far and I hope to gain some rest in the coming hours. If you’re wondering why I was gone, go to this post. But that’s all for today my friends, keep writing.