On politics, bias and evil

I’ve been helping a friend with his first novel…well, I say helping. I’ve been tearing it to pieces. He claims it’s helping so I’m choosing to believe him, over wondering if he cries himself to sleep over how mean I am…*

But anyway.

The thing I’ve learned today is that when you train as a historian – or a journalist, or an English Lit critic – the training never leaves you.

He’s just written a piece for background on the High Council, one of the major players in the background of the books. They’ve taken over Earth, they’ve killed their opponents, they’re in complete control and human lives are just there to be wasted-

And I read it, and thought, “Why? This is biased. What’s the other side?”

Hitler did what he did with the support of Germany, because he provided wealth and direction and success to the majority of the German people. Stalin was loved and supported, for all that we know he did terrible things. Dictators and their power bases may be evil, but people do support them.

And the dictators, the governments, the rulers – they are doing what they do for a reason. It may be that they are simply insane, but that’s rare. They usually believe what they are doing is for the good of the country – the Great Famine in China was caused by efforts to increase grain yields. People may be indispensable, but only in specific terms; their loss must go towards something bigger.

The baddies aren’t usually bad, just because. They’ve got their own aims, their own ideas. They might not necessarily benefit the chunk of humanity that’s dying for those aims, or might not benefit the hero – but there is an aim, there is logic (of a sort).

Your baddies shouldn’t be bad ‘just because’. What are their aims? What are their choices? Why are they doing what they are doing?

Every story has two sides, and the evil guy doesn’t think he’s evil.


*It does make the story better, so I’m not feeling too bad.

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at writingandcoe.co.uk. When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.