Can We Forgive a Hero's Past?
Right now I am working on writing a particularly tragic scene in the Outcast series. One of our characters turned hero makes a great sacrifice to save another. This hero not only sacrifices himself, but sabotages another character's attempt to save him in order to protect her.
As the reader, you want him to be saved. You want this even though you know he has done things that perhaps never should be forgiven. But those things were so long ago, and it's not like you were there. It's a book after all. In your heart, you find a way to root for this hero despite his past.
My question is, why?
We want to believe...what we want to believe
I'm convinced that when we read stories, we interpret what happens based on what we want to be true. For example, many of us want to believe in redemption and forgiveness, maybe because we ourselves want to be forgiven for wrongdoings. Or maybe because we see good in people and believe that if we give them another chance, they will prove something right about man's good nature. Or maybe because it's convenient since an inconvenient truth—like that someone we loved or respected actually once did something horrifying—kind of ruins the good feels we want to have.
But that doesn't erase the past. It just makes us numb to it if we want to be numb. If we want to believe a different story. If we want to ignore what happened because we weren't personally hurt by it. That's what I'm noticing about the fallout from the #MeToo campaign. Is it best to forget the past because the person does something too important to let that past get in the way? Because their vote is important in Congress? Because we want to believe that the hero has learned from his or her mistakes and is needed in order for a story to have a happy ending we want to see?
I don't have an answer to these questions, and this makes it tough for me as a writer. I happen to really like this particular character in the Outcast series. I've even written little moments to make him seem more likable than he came across in previous drafts. Yet, I also gave him that back story that some would say means he deserves nothing but death, no matter what good he does now.
Those are your thoughts for the week, just a glimpse into the kinds of things I think about while I'm writing these stories and creating these characters. I look forward to getting the new Outcast Part I book out in early January. Still shooting for January 1st, but with some rewrites I've been doing to try and dive deeper into this hero's past, that might not be possible. Gotta do it right, so we'll see.
Thanks for following along. For those of you who remember this entry when you read Part I, I'll be interested what you think of this particular character and how you feel about these chapters. Feel free to message me and let me know!
***waiver - not making a political statement here, just some thoughts I'm struggling with as I write a part of the story***