Monday, October 1, 2018

Hellspawn: A Change in perspective

Before I knew anything about the characters of Hellspawn, before I ever started the plot, I was only certain about a handful of things.

The premise was a cop who would become a saint versus a serial killer possessed by a demon.

And that the first line was "My name is Thomas Nolan, and I am a Saint."

Yes, I know, fun, ain't it?

But that's not the point in this instance.

I always knew it would be first person. In part because that was the only way to get the premise through immediately.

Anyone who knows anything about Catholic doctrine and sainthood should already know how Nolan's story ends. Just from that one line.

But no, it had to be first person. There were other options, but none felt valid. Why? Because "I'm going to tell you all about this Saint" really just sounds like I'm painting him in pastels and bright pretty colors. Perfect characters don't change. They don't grow. They don't have to. After all, they're perfect.

The best way to keep him from being perfect was to show his actions from his point of view.

Why? Because even Saint Francis is on record as saying "I am the worst sinner I know."

You see, Saints didn't go around boasting about how awesome they were. Heck, by all accounts, Saints like Thomas Aquinas were a little bit flakey and spread jokes about his own weight and about how fat he was.

If I tell you, as a 3rd person omniscient narrator that Nolan will participate in church functions and charities and guards the little old ladies praying outside of abortion clinics, he looks almost Mary Sue level perfect and awesome.

However, if I'm inside his head, and I show you that his mind sees church functions / charities as the only way he's going to interact with people outside of his job, or he sees protecting the little old ladies as merely an extension of his job, it sounds an awful lot more practical than being holier-than-thou. In fact, he sees a lot of what he does as "Why not? I have the time / energy / etc." He thinks he loses nothing. But he has no idea what his "Why not?" will cost him in the long term.

You see, one of the problems in character generation that a lot of people have seems to be creating a character who is both a good person, and also interesting. This is largely a conversation for another time. But I didn't want to fall into the trap of "Christian Fiction Mary Sue." Lord, I hate that.

But just because he's good doesn't mean he's not dangerous. As I noted earlier, in the middle of a firefight, he has no problem shooting people in the back -- especially if announcing himself will merely serve to get him shot. I can't even discussed some of the other fight scenes...

Then again, since I've written two of them back to back, the lines sort of blur between the books. Also, there's so much action, it's a bit of a problem picking them out. Right now, the fights that come immediately to mind is the shootout in Bellevue, the machete duel, the backyard battle .... and that's all book two, Cult of Death.  Oops.

Anyway, yeah, we need good people who aren't annoying. My best way to do it was making it first person. Because one of the nice things about saints? They don't become egomaniacs. It's probably best to show that off in order to avoid Mary Sue issues.

Click here, and support the kickstarter so you can get a sample of the first 50 pages of Hell Spawn right this minute.

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