and I were have one of our regular talks about shitty wizards recently, and it made me realize the characters I like (and like to write) most aren’t shitty wizards but shitty people
. Characters who do bad things with good intentions are so very much my favorite – I like when they’re in headlong bad-decisions spirals, and I like when they’re smacked in the face with self-awareness and try to pull out of the spiral and work towards atonement. That narrative tension is so interesting. It’s why Tony Stark and Marian Hawke (the purple version of her, at least) and even Mara Jade are my favorite POVs. I think it probably even informs the way I write Shepard; I tend to hit the atonement angle really hard with the ruthless/colonist/paragon combination.
That Shepard (as I write her) qualifies as a shitty person isn’t immediately apparent in stories set during the war, because her entire adult identity is built around her military career, which is in a lot of ways a safe environment for her. The Alliance provides focus and meaning to her life and allows her to indulge in some pretty dark impulses while still nominally acting in the name of the greater good. She can have the confidence – and very possibly all this knowledge is subconscious, at least at the beginning of her career – that the military acts as a limiting force that both can and will stop her from going too far.
That’s one of the main reasons I tend to write Shepard as someone with an interest in boxing; it doesn’t erase her effort to learn how to problem-solve through diplomacy and communication, but it does undercut it: she thinks with her fists, she has a lot of anger that comes out through violence, she wants to solve her problems by hitting someone in the face repeatedly until they take on all her pain and all she has to feel is release or strength or numbness. Boxing as a hobby also makes for an interesting contrast with Shepard-as-sniper; that’s her professional mode, the cold remove, attacking from a distance, but beneath it she still has the urge to get up in someone’s face and hurt them
That’s also why I can’t let Aratoht go – Aratoht is the ultimate example of “Did I do this because it needed to be done, or did I just want to make the batarians bleed?” (”Both” is the answer – “both” is always the most interesting answer.)( Read more... )