The number one reason why I loved Brett Battle’s The Cleaner, is that the main character was real, his portrayal was honest, and the author was unapologetic about his rough edges. Our blog-friend Erica Orloff writes the same way.
I love it.
For example, pretend you have a teacher, in fiction, who reams out a student. In 99% of fiction, you will then be presented with backstory, with TONS of examples of how much they care about their students, and an example of why that reaming-out made the student a better person ... all so that the author can portray a real live teacher but still make their character likable.
It’s not that I mind the backstory or the other examples ... it’s just that I prefer a story that trusts me to understand that the teacher yelled from a place of caring without overdoing the apologetics and explanations. Or at least a story that is really subtle about all that.
So often I see that if a character has a negative trait or does something "wrongish," then apologetics are heaped in such abundance as to not leave the reader any room to misunderstand that This Is A Good Person or--maybe?--for the author to receive complaints about Mr. Evil Teacher.
I prefer characters without apologies.
I’ve noticed, on the shelves, the edgier or kinkier erotica gets, the more apologies, excuses, and counter-demonstrations are needed to make up for their desires. (And you wouldn’t believe how many erotica authors proclaim on their blogs that they don’t have these desires they write about ... ((Okay, tiny rant: even if you don’t have those desires, why say something like that? Do they want their readers to feel ashamed of enjoying the stories of those desires? And why admit to their hypocrisy? If they don’t get it, really get it, I damn well don’t want to read a story about it from them!)) )
Er. Apologetics. Right.
I wonder, sometimes, if paranormal and horror genres are so popular lately because you can say ’this is the world,’ and not have to apologize for showing our humanity (especially when it’s in vampire form, or wiggle-man form, LOL). It’s in a different world, after all, so it’s at a safe distance. It’s not like we’re saying it’s our humanity.
I’ve written apologetics before, that’s for sure. I stand before you, guilty.
But isn’t it refreshing when you just let the characters be? Let them be human? Let them be who they are, no excuse, no apologetics, no judgments ...
An apologetic, in the end, is a judgment of guilt by the author about the character ... maybe in defense of the character, but still.
Just thoughts. What do you think?