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Shadow Dragon
11-07-2008, 06:26 PM
I was wondering if you guys like it when a story doesn't have a definetive line between who is good and who is evil? I'm wondering because neither side of the main conflct of my story is really good or evil and because I think it should be done more often.

Red-Green
11-07-2008, 06:31 PM
I'm a big fan of moral ambiguity in fiction, because it mirrors real life. Only after a war is over do we usually start viewing the combatants as good or bad. During the war, it's just two parties who disagree over something.

kct webber
11-07-2008, 06:32 PM
[Do] you guys like it when a story doesn't have a definetive line between who is good and who is evil?

Yes.

StoryG27
11-07-2008, 06:34 PM
To echo red's comment, moral ambiguity rules.

heyjude
11-07-2008, 06:36 PM
Yes and no. There is a lot of gray in life, and books often explore that gray. Having said that, as a reader if I have no one to root for, I'll lose interest.

tehuti88
11-07-2008, 06:44 PM
I like some ambiguity, but I also like some clarity. I guess I'm a fence sitter.

I like when a story has a good guy and a bad guy but I do not like it when the good guy is SUPER 100% PERFECT GOOD and the bad guy is SUPER 100% HORRIFIC EVIL. It's just too fake and shallow. I like to know the flaws and shortcomings the hero has, and the reasons why the bad guy is so bad--reasons which are often something I can understand, even if not sympathize with. I like stories where there's good and there's evil, but there's no SUPREME GOOD and no SUPREME EVIL, and sometimes the two change places over time. More like, there are shades of almost-white and almost-black, and lots of grays, but no pristine white and no jet black.

Hope that made some sort of sense. :o I'm big on the Jungian concept of the Shadow--everything contains its opposite--so that helps clarify where I'm coming from.

kct webber
11-07-2008, 06:57 PM
I think havign someone to root for and root against is simply the same as having a protag and an antag--but, to me, good and evil have little to do with that. It can have something to do with it, but doesn't have to. I like some ambiguity. I like it when protags have to do bad things to succeed, have to make choices that they would never had made before the shit hit the fan. And when antags are sympathetic and/or understandable.

And Tehuti: isn't it great when you can refer to Jungian concepts and everyone around actually understands you? That's one of the reasons why I hang out here. If I were to say that to most of my friends outside AW, I would get all sorts of dumb looks. :D

NeuroFizz
11-07-2008, 07:05 PM
I think what you are asking is if we like characters who have real human qualities and vulnerabilities. On that grand sliding scale of good to evil, rarely does any real person plop down on either extreme--we all have chest puffing qualities we flaunt as well as personal failures we whisper about with our hands covering our mouths. And many of us have some events in our history that only come back to haunt us in nightmares.

FennelGiraffe
11-07-2008, 10:25 PM
Gimme that moral ambiguity.

My sympathy for the protag and antipathy for the antag don't require black and white perfection. I find stories about protags who are GOOD and antags who are EVIL to be overly simplistic. I'd much rather read about multidimensional characters facing complex choices in shades of gray.

Phaeal
11-07-2008, 10:50 PM
An excerpt from my latest novel-in-progress addresses this question:

“Are you suggesting Orne's a dark wizard?”

“Are you suggesting I’m a light one?”

Was she? “I’m not afraid of you. I don’t think you mean harm.”

Geldman bowed. “The dichotomy of dark and light is simplistic, but in the way I follow, doing harm diminishes the core of one’s own power. Reverend Orne labors under no such restriction. He's done harm, even murder. His gods rather encourage it. Still, I believe he'd prefer to avoid violence.”

The tea (never cooling) didn't quite bar fear from her mind. “Orne's a murderer, but you’re not his enemy?”

“No."

“I don’t understand.”

“Why should you?" Geldman's voice was soothing, fond, a favorite uncle's. "You've just come among us."

Mad Queen
11-08-2008, 02:25 AM
I love moral ambiguity and flawed characters. They are not the same, in my opinion, and having someone to root for is something else. If you can tell a flaw is a flaw, it's not ambiguous. Moral ambiguity is when you don't know what's good and what's evil anymore, because every action has good and bad consequences, or a situation is so complicated there are no right answers, or the only way to save the day is by doing some ugly things.

Stunted
11-08-2008, 10:09 PM
I'd say that there has to be at least one character I can route(sp) for, but they don't necessarily need to be good.

Dawnstorm
11-08-2008, 11:06 PM
Instead of blurring the line between good and evil, try ignoring the concepts of "good" and "evil" altogher, focussing entirely on character motivation instead. No avatars of abstract concept to pupulate storyscape. ;)

TrickyFiction
11-09-2008, 01:52 AM
I love it.

Julie Worth
11-09-2008, 02:11 AM
There is no line between good and evil.

scarletpeaches
11-09-2008, 02:16 AM
To quote Redzilla, I too am a fan of 'moral ambiguity' in novels. There's no such thing as black hats and white hats. Real people aren't all good or all bad. There are degrees of badness or goodness and, depending on the circumstances, we can each be pushed to do things that now, at this moment, we consider morally wrong. Likewise, 'baddies' can change.

kuwisdelu
11-09-2008, 06:14 AM
What everyone else said.

Gray rules.

DamaNegra
11-09-2008, 08:02 AM
Even the man who, in my WIP, murdered a pregnant woman in cold blood did it for reasons he deemed good and noble. If you didn't know that little detail, or other criminal activities he'd incurred in, you'd think he was a great guy. And he is, he just has... er, a different set of morals.

Dawnstorm
11-09-2008, 11:46 AM
Gray rules.

Over black and white perhaps, but not over a full palette of colours. :D

Kateri
11-09-2008, 02:43 PM
Blurring the line is intriguing and I would be thinking of who fitted where and why. Humanity is not divided into good and evil and we all swap from day to day. Stories and life help us redefine long held beliefs. Identity is dynamic, follow your instinct Shadow Dragon and good luck.

heyjude
11-09-2008, 04:05 PM
So I was thinking about this thread yesterday while reading a book filled with these "morally ambiguous characters" and wondering whatever happened to good guys. It seems like they're a dying breed. Personally, and it looks like I'm in the distinct minority of one here, but I like a good guy to root for. Doesn't mean s/he has to be perfect--no one is. But I like to see someone fight the good fight and come out on top.

tehuti88
11-09-2008, 07:42 PM
Oh, don't get me wrong, I like a good guy to root for too (even said so previously :D ). But ambiguity can make a story more interesting, realistic, and complex. And as others have said there can be good characters but ambiguous situations. And sometimes good people have to do nasty things.

The book series I'm currently reading, there seems to be NOBODY really who is a "good guy" to root for. Everybody, even the MC who starts out sympathetic and with good intentions, seems corrupt and opportunistic. I really hope something changes by the end of the series because I find it so bleak. Ambiguity, yes, love it, but I prefer a LITTLE clarity here and there. At the moment, I'm really not liking the protagonist, not even in a "What a horrific jerk! I love him!" kind of way. I'm not finding myself wanting to root for anybody, and that's bothersome.

I think ambiguity is good when it makes the reader think, but when it just makes the reader think, "Why should I like (even in a twisted way) any of these people?" then it might have gone too far.

heyjude
11-09-2008, 10:21 PM
Oh, don't get me wrong, I like a good guy to root for too (even said so previously :D ). But ambiguity can make a story more interesting, realistic, and complex. And as others have said there can be good characters but ambiguous situations. And sometimes good people have to do nasty things.

The book series I'm currently reading, there seems to be NOBODY really who is a "good guy" to root for. Everybody, even the MC who starts out sympathetic and with good intentions, seems corrupt and opportunistic. I really hope something changes by the end of the series because I find it so bleak. Ambiguity, yes, love it, but I prefer a LITTLE clarity here and there. At the moment, I'm really not liking the protagonist, not even in a "What a horrific jerk! I love him!" kind of way. I'm not finding myself wanting to root for anybody, and that's bothersome.

I think ambiguity is good when it makes the reader think, but when it just makes the reader think, "Why should I like (even in a twisted way) any of these people?" then it might have gone too far.

Oops, sorry tehuti! Somehow I missed that... I totally agree with you, esp. on the "why should I like these people?" thing.

KTC
11-09-2008, 10:33 PM
I love broken heroes. I think when good and bad is clouded, it makes for a great story. What I don't like is perfection on the side of good. It's sickening because you will not find that in real life. Everybody is flawed...and everybody, no matter how morally high they wish to believe they are, crosses the lines between good and evil.

KTC
11-09-2008, 10:35 PM
So I was thinking about this thread yesterday while reading a book filled with these "morally ambiguous characters" and wondering whatever happened to good guys. It seems like they're a dying breed. Personally, and it looks like I'm in the distinct minority of one here, but I like a good guy to root for. Doesn't mean s/he has to be perfect--no one is. But I like to see someone fight the good fight and come out on top.

It's great to root for the good guy...it's laborious and boring to root for the perfect guy. I don't think good guys are disappearing. I do think they are written more realistically lately.

geardrops
11-10-2008, 04:30 AM
I was wondering if you guys like it when a story doesn't have a definetive line between who is good and who is evil? I'm wondering because neither side of the main conflct of my story is really good or evil and because I think it should be done more often.

I'm going to contribute by saying: yes I like it, and I'm currently writing it.

Phantasmagoria
11-12-2008, 07:57 AM
I love moral ambiguity in characters... I love watching them struggle with choices they've made, wonder if they've gone too far, question whether they're good, deep down... I love flawed protagonists, especially when their flaws get them in trouble. Also fascinating: stories that deal with conflicting systems of ethics, where one might not easily emerge as obviously "superior." And fantasy/sci-fi stories with alien/otherworldly protagonists who adhere to a moral code that's different from what we think of as human morality (in itself, rather variable from culture to culture and across the span of history).


I'm currently writing a fantasy story wherein the majority of my main characters are vampires; I don't think they're "evil" and haven't written them as such, but they do kill humans to survive (they have to, and in my story, vamps can be born that way, so it's not like most of my characters ever chose this life to begin with). Hopefully, readers will care for these characters and empathize with them, even as they straddle that wavering line between good and evil.