I’ve always believed in monsters. Many think they’re make believe, hiding under beds or in closets or right outside your bedroom window. I had those.
I also had real monsters. Like the clown who tells you he is very real and can hurt you. Or the stranger who thinks it’s his job to spank you because you were looking at the kids having fun (not trying to sneak in as he supposed). And then there were darker monsters. Demons that will haunt me perhaps until the day I die.
Many of us have those too. They come in all shapes, sizes and intensities.
I sat with one of those monsters recently and discussed with him my current novel about the Angel of Death–a book about monsters. He listened and nodded and even got a little excited as I chatted animatedly about my ideas. When I finished he said, “Can I suggest one thing?”
“Sure,” I replied.
“Give even the darkest villain something redeemable. I have to believe that even the most retched of us has the possibility—that glimmer of hope—to change. Even Darth Vader was redeemed.”
Well, I’ve thought a lot about his words and my book. Most of my “villains” have that trait. I like creating an atmosphere where the reader sympathizes with the bad guy. Where, maybe just for a moment, we think “I get it. I understand the why. And I might have done the same thing.” Those moments make me think; make me figure out why I DIDN’T do the same thing, why I WOULDN’T do the same thing. Those moments help me to better understand myself and humanity and, hopefully, to be different—better—than the monsters around me.
But I have one character who isn’t redeemable. One who has nothing shared with the reader except his filth. And I wonder, am I doing him and myself justice?
I don’t know.
For the moment it is what it needs to be. But perhaps I may write a little piece of him in the ending. Just a small scene… a graveside funeral of 3 to show that maybe he did have hope, retched though he was.
What do you think? Should all monsters be redeemable? Do we do a disservice to our readers when we paint the world as black and white?