Last week, we talked about unreliable narrators, which are an absolute joy to write. This week, we’re talking about another fun one. Morally grey characters.
People who do bad things for good reasons. People whose actions you might hate, but whose motives…you completely understand.
These characters might make you squirm a bit. They might show you a darker side of yourself. They show you things that you might have the potential to do if pushed just enough.
Vigilantes rank pretty fucking high on this list, as do angels of death (doctors or nurses killing patients that have no quality of life).
An angel of death might have heard her patients wishing for death. She might hate the constraints of their particular government holding those patients back from the euthanasia they wish for.
Eco terrorists fully believe in their cause when they blow up pipelines. They don’t want nature to take any more hits because of our burgeoning society.
Hell, one of the most recognizable characters in literature and theatre is a morally grey character. Ever heard of Robin Hood? I bet you have. He steals all the goddamn time, but because he’s stealing from corrupt, rich people and giving it to poor people, that makes us all see him as the hero.
But he’s still a thief. He’s just a thief with a code.
In my novella, Annabelle, I explore this exact thing, this criminal with a code. Annabelle is a vigilante, but her motives are pretty hard to argue with. The resulting novella is pure catharsis, because she does the terrible, terrible things so many of us have wished to do.
I mean, she kills rapists.
And while murder isn’t something we typically condone, that motive, that drive is hard to argue with.
It puts the reader into a morally grey area where they struggle to see someone who is obviously doing something bad…as a bad person.
And the biggest thing you need to remember to write that type of character successfully is that they do not see their actions as evil.
They one hundred percent believe in their cause.
If they’ve been pushed far enough to do something like this, there likely won’t be much doubt left in their mind that this is the right thing for them to do. Even if they fully acknowledge the fact that others might disagree. They likely think those who disagree are uninformed or blind. They may think their opposition terrible and evil.
But they don’t see themselves as bad.
They probably see themselves as a hero, as a person doing something that needs done.
That mindset will shape their life.
It will shape their relationships.
If they’re charismatic, they might pull people to their cause. If not, they might have a huge secret, something that keeps them slinking through shadows in the middle of the night and distancing themselves from others during the day. If they’re egotistical, they might look down on anyone who disagrees, which would put a LOT of strain on personal relationships with anyone who isn’t an absolute fanatic for their particular brand of morality.
But there will be decidedly little internal conflict over committing whatever terrible acts your particular morally grey character is into.
If you’re curious about Annabelle or just want an example, the novella is available on Amazon (free in Kindle Unlimited) at this link:
Now, to catch you up on my latest projects.
I’ve officially finished the first round of edits on Allmother Rising, and it’s now sitting on the back burner so I can come back for another round with fresh eyes. Then, it’ll be going to beta readers.
I also finished the last round of my edits on my dark supernatural high fantasy romance, A Heart of Salt & Silver! It goes off for proofreading this week, and then I’ll be moving forward to formatting.
All told, I’m looking to have this one out later this year, so I’ll begin introducing the characters soon. Which I’m fucking excited for. Ness, Nolan, and Elias make a fucking mess of themselves, despite the fact that two of three are total badasses. Lol.
But for now, it’s time to dive into writing another book. And this one’s going to be a thriller….
But I’m torn. I have two story options. One is partially written from years ago, the other is brand new.
At any rate, I’ll dive into one of them tonight.
Now, go forth.
Keep reading. Keep writing.