I’ve been noticing a trend for some time now that has played a bit of a role in inspiring one of my stories. Of course, as we know, typical do-gooder heroes have become a sort of bore in today’s society, and we like to look towards more complex or damaged characters, especially those who fit somewhere in the morally grey side of things. I’m sure not many can dispute that.
Over recent years we’ve taken a liking to anti-heroes, memorable villains and even enjoyed walking the path of the eccentric and frightening many a time. That’s all commonplace now. But what I’ve noticed, especially in television, is the way these admittedly disturbing characters are portrayed in ways that are designed to make them likable.
And that’s because the reality would lead to the complete opposite.
I want to focus specifically on the character of the sociopath. Don’t be alarmed. Not all of them are murderous psychopaths who harvest organs and eat brains. Just me. Kidding. In the real world, sociopath personalities are pretty common – almost impossible to detect too. The descriptions and possible traits of such characters in text is often frightening and pretty extreme.
Yet in our TV shows, we adore them. Whether it’s Sherlock Holmes or Jim Moriarty, Patrick Jane from The Mentalist, Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries, Klaus from The Originals, Dr House from House, Rorschach from Watchmen, we love these guys like we do our heroes.
But we don’t fear them. We don’t hate them. They don’t make us uncomfortable. What they’re capable of doesn’t frighten us. We root for them every step of the way.
I suppose it may be because we know it’s not real and it’s just for entertainment. That’s true. But I feel that part of it is because of the manner in which they are portrayed. Their eccentric personalities inspire excitement, they’re made likable with humour and quirk, and their volatile unpredictability and grey morals gives them a spark that’s hard to match. Sure enough some of them also have a heart of gold buried beneath all the crazy.
I have absolutely no problem with this. I love it just like most other people. But perhaps, it’s a bit one sided. Maybe there’s a whole other way to explore this.
And that became the basis of inspiration for a story of mine.
I wanted to take this archetype, this character of the likable sociopath, and move it the opposite end of the spectrum. I want to make it real, so to speak.
Hopefully I can unveil this story soon, but what I’m working on is creating a character that disturbs readers. That makes them uncomfortable. That frightens them when thinking about what he is capable of, or that someone like this may exist out there. That doesn’t have likable traits like a hidden heart or humourous quirks. That isn’t redeemable.
I would be happy if the character I create is hated.
But I’m sure that there are many sick-minded individuals out there like myself who will like him anyway. Nevertheless, I hope you see what my objective is.
I want to deviate a bit from the current stigma, and dabble in the unpredictable in a new way. I want to conduct a study in sociopath, and play around with it a bit to do something unexpected. Knowing me, I’ll be crazy and extreme and all when it comes to the plot and its grandeur, but as a simple character study, I want something different and challenging to me.
And that will my first attempt at turning a trend on its head.