Posted in Monday Mayhem

The Enemy Within

There is a place for everything and everything has a place. Given today is Monday Mayhem, I can attest that if nothing is in its place, there will be mayhem.

Star Wars' Darth Sidious
Star Wars’ Darth Sidious

In the past, I’ve written extensively about zombies, The Walking Dead, aliens, the end of the world and other flavors of destruction you might consider chaos for the choosing. I think one of the most interesting subjects is what would happen to this world if all social boundaries no longer existed. What I’m thinking has to do with human interactions. Although I’ve written about the subject in my book Ranger Martin and the Search for Paradise, the matter keeps popping up. One can only cover so much in a book before the themes spill into other works, such as this post you’re now reading.

One of the themes I wanted to explore with the book, and related to this subject, pertains to the absolute corruption of the human soul. For example, when people turn into zombies, it is easy to see them as enemies—they see their food ahead, they smell it and they want to eat it.

However, when people are not zombies, and they try to kill the hero, that becomes a more fascinating story. I read somewhere that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. I don’t think that is too far from what I’ve learned when dealing with dark characters in my books. Again, I’ll bring up zombies. With zombies, you can see them coming. They are easy to spot. Humans, though, are tougher.

Edge of Tomorrow
Edge of Tomorrow

Of course, not everything is easy to understand. In the film, Edge of Tomorrow, the adversary is simple to find. They’re creatures bent on the destruction of humanity. They will not rest until every human is a grease spot.

The tougher challenger is the one you can’t see coming, or even worse, the one who at first is not an enemy at all. A great example of this is Darth Sidious of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. The term wolf in sheep’s clothing comes to mind when I’m thinking about this particular breed of maleficent.

All right, now you may be wondering what I’m talking about, since I’ve completely deviated from the subject matter. Or have I?

It is my opinion that the corruption of the human soul is the key to a good story. And as I said, it is one of the most fascinating aspects of writing. Not only does it provide a great deal of conflict for the reader, but the theme also provides a remarkable sense of accomplishment for the writer—if done right.

I’m wondering aloud. That’s all. I suppose I’m wondering about evil characters. Are they compelling enough to write a story centered only around them. Do we always need a hero?

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What do you think? Do we always need a hero in a story?