Inspiration Sunday!

This quote spoke to me this week, because I am hearing the whooshing sound myself right now as NaNoWriMo flies by. I won’t make even a fraction of my original goal, but that’s OK. It’s encouraging to know that even writers as famous as Douglas Adams struggle to meet deadlines!

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
– Douglas Adams

 

Get your Weekly Fantasy Fix!

newsletter header

 

Heroes and Villains

In a previous Inspiration Sunday post I mentioned that in the process of working out some things for the third book in my series, I’ve been thinking about the very different motives and actions of my heroes and villains. Where my story goes from here largely depends on their inner battles, and how those translate into actions that have world-wide consequences. What is each side trying to ultimately achieve, and in what ways are they trying to get there? Are they staying one step ahead of their enemies, or are they simply reacting as each new thing gets thrown at them, never really gaining any ground?

But even beyond that, what makes heroes and villains who they are is not just their inner conflict, but their inner character. The best heroes aren’t perfect people—they are just as flawed as the rest of us; sometimes more so. And yet what makes them different? Sure they might have special abilities—those can be squandered. They might be more desperate than most. Desperation can also turn to bitterness that produces nothing good. And we’ve seen time and time again how the same set of circumstances can turn one person to darkness and another to the light.

I found the answer in a quote from C.S. Lewis. “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable.”

Our heroes have to accept their flaws, allow themselves be deeply wounded by them, yet still have the strength rise to action…even when that action is self-sacrificial. They have to care about something larger than themselves, and to care, a heart capable of love is required. So where does that leave our darkest villains? By contrast, they are cold and selfish. Their flaws do not make them vulnerable to heartache—they won’t allow it. And while they might also care about something larger than themselves, it is only to the extent that they will greatly benefit in the process…and they have no problem sacrificing someone else to get their prize. They worship none but themselves. Over time, our villains’ hearts grow increasingly incapable of love until, to use Lewis’ words, they become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. Those are the true villains that our heroes must rise against—the ones worth risking everything to defeat, because if they win, there will be nothing left worthy of living for.

For those of you who are writers, forget for a bit the mechanics of the plot you’re building, and look deep into the eyes of your heroes and villains. What lies hidden deep down in their hearts and souls? What, and who, do they really, honestly care about? How do their vulnerabilities impact their character, and what are they willing to do to achieve their goals? For all you who are readers, which heroes and villains stand out as the most memorable to you? What made them real?

Click to Read the rest of this week’s Fantasy Fix newsletter.

Like what you see?  Subscribe to get each edition emailed directly to you.

 

Inspiration Sunday!

 

“It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down. For the needs of today we have corresponding strength given. For the morrow we are told to trust. It is not ours yet. It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today that the weight is more than a man can bear.”
– George Macdonald

loaves-and-fishes

Inspiration Sunday!

I’ve been working out some things for the third book in my series this week. And as such, I’ve been thinking about the very different motives and actions of my heroes and villains. Their inner battles extend far beyond themselves, impacting those around them, and in some cases world events with far reaching consequences.

I came upon this quote from Lewis, and as so often happens with his writings, the truth of it touched on some of the thoughts that have already been running through my head. It explains so well why our best heroes seem to be those who have lost the most, but continue to fight on anyway. And why our darkest villains seem beyond hope, with no capacity for compassion. Their hearts have become unbreakable, and therefore, irredeemable.

This is not some literary cliche–it is the inescapable truth of our nature. Most of us are somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, but as we look to the extreme ends of it, we find the pure, sacrificial, love of Christ, which is also the ultimate picture of vulnerability and brokenness through the cross. And at the other we have Satan–absolute selfishness, without love; unbreakable, and irredeemable. When life and love causes us pain, to which end of this spectrum do we run? Do we go there because of who we are, or because of who we aspire to be? Something profound to mull on a Sunday, and also some hope for those with broken hearts. There is some good that comes from it after all, even though it doesn’t always seem that way.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, and irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”  – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

fourloves