As a writer, there is no more sure way not to be read, much less regarded as a hack, than if everything always works out great for the characters you write. There must be a villain, a scumbag, a rake for which everyone else in a story suffers and eventually prevails. Of course, there are exceptions to every story.
I personally prefer to write from the point of view of bad guys, shitheels in real life that you’d likely want to push off a bridge. To me they are more complex. Good guys want to be, well…good. They eventually wind up rescuing the girl or saving the farm or some other hackneyed pie-in-the-sky scenario that by page 300 is sweet enough to give you diabetes. I’d rather write about the assholes who seem delighted to do things the wrong way even if they don’t have to, even if doing things the ‘good guy way’ would be easier. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of their character to do things in a way that seems ultimately advantageous only for themselves. Other times, though, they do it because “fuck you, that’s why” and those are simply my favorites.
If I’ve learned anything in life it is this: people do evil shit to each other all the time for no goddamn good reason except they can. For every truck bringing a load of donated can goods to a church food pantry there is a stash house somewhere filled to the rim with cans of corn, carrots and peas that never make it to the warehouse. For every kid who gets stuck in a drain and is rescued to a community’s triumphant, televised cheers there are whole apartment buildings full of ignored children who will grow up to be damaged and disadvantaged members of society. And for every burglary thwarted by a dog hellbent on its family’s safety, there is a man who comes home to have dinner and a smoke before methodically killing them and himself with his legally purchased and registered firearm.
Which story would you rather read?
In real life I’m what you call a nice guy. I hold doors open for others, say excuse me if I bump into someone and will go out of my way to help a friend even if I know I’m probably going to get screwed for doing it. However, when I write, it is as if I can finally let the genie out of the bottle. Murder, extortion, torture and stalking are safe to explore. That bad day at the office is purged when I use my pen to see the world through the eyes of a madman focused on his own personal destruction. But monsters come in many forms. I think the only difference between a lawyer, a mechanic and a whore is how much they charge an hour. Are they all capable of fucking you over, making your life miserable, enraging ordinary people to the point where killing a son of a bitch seems justified? You bet. Except in a civilized and polite society, such things are frowned upon.
Thank God for books.