Depending on your perspective, one or both of the candidates are the villain. But do you understand what makes a true villain?
I watched the debate last night, and I felt Hillary made an excellent point when the last question was proposed. She admitted that this was not a normal election. I could relate when she seemed to acknowledge the viciousness of both campaigns, and offered an explanation. A lot is at stake, and whoever is elected now will play a part in vital decisions concerning America’s future. A future that is in danger of economic catastrophe, poverty, and even war. I believe that’s absolutely true, and because of it, emotions have run high and both campaigns have pulled no punches. Both sides believe only they have the answers, and if they want to save America, they must do whatever it takes to make it happen.
This is the recipe of a villain. A character who believes what they’re doing is right, but consequentially they make the wrong choices. Who is the villain? Whose choices are right? It depends on your perspective.
Fear has driven emotions high, and mob mentality is frighteningly apparent. Recently, driving home from work, I found myself at a stoplight and there was a rally for one of the candidates. It wasn’t the typical rally, “Honk for support,” instead it was filled with threats and the air was fogged with angered screams. I slammed on the gas the second the light turned green and didn’t look back. Do these people even know half of the things they’re talking about? Do they read anything other than bigotry and biased articles? Is this ancient Rome, or is this America? I know we have an eagle on our dollar, but has it gone that far?
Mob mentality is the villain’s army. Both sides seem to have them, and they blindly follow and parrot slander they’ve read on social media or heard on biased news stations.
I’ve always been an independent thinker. I will listen to multiple news stations covering the same story, and you’d be surprised the things you learn when you have multiple points of view. The world isn’t black and white, which is the basis of my debut fantasy novel. There are a multitude of factors to consider, and when leadership makes what seems like obvious and terrible choices, it’s different when you know the full picture. You may find yourself even making the same choices were you in that position, or at least empathizing with ones that were made, even if they were the wrong choices.
Society loves books because they mirror our ideals, our exploration and curiosity. They delve deep and ponder. Don’t be the villain’s zombie army. Hold yourself to the standard to which your hero or heroine must aspire. Our world needs levelheadedness now more than ever.
Take heart that even those who’ve said bitter things and thrown about unfounded accusations about your chosen political candidate are experiencing fear and blinded by it. They’ve joined the villain’s zombie army, but they want the same thing as you. They want America to thrive. While we have the same overarching goal, the perspective of what “thriving” really means are different for different people. Married to someone from the Netherlands and working for a Japanese company I’m surrounded by rifts of culture and perspective. As an American otherwise closed off to the opinions of the world, I’m blessed to be exposed to different ways of thinking. I’ve opened myself up to understanding others, and I have found that even my most bitter enemy truly believes what he or she is doing is right. This is what makes a great villain, and when you write, don’t write a cackling witch who only wants to eat little children. Write a scorned woman who uses what she’s been taught to make the world the place her mother taught her to embrace. Don’t write a mad king who beheads those who oppose him. Write a tired old man who feels there’s no redemption left for his subjects and he’s doing what he must to rid the kingdom of the old ways of thinking.
Use this lesson to improve your writing when it comes to villains. And of course, to my American readers, don’t forget to vote. If you’re not registered, visit Vote.USA.gov.