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Story-Scribbling Sunday – December 12, 2011: There Are No Bad Guys

December 11, 2011

I’ve been good about writing every day this week, except for Monday, when I was out of the house for most of the day, but I never write more than a few hundred words, so the story is moving along very slowly. Julius is still trying to convince himself that he doesn’t care at all that little Daniel is his son, but it’s not working very well, and my brain has decided that all names ending with “-ius” are the same, and I keep typing “Sirius” instead of “Julius”. Is this my subconscious trying to tell me that if Julius’ family weren’t Muggles, they’d get on very well with Sirius Black’s family?

Therese is still having trouble understanding that not everyone thinks homosexuality is a sin (and this is getting kind of boring), while Sophie is learning that not only are there demonstrations for Kivailo rights, but there are Ternin demonstrating for Kivailo rights, too. Sophie has grown up in the north of Tokre, where hardly any Kivailo are living, and it was already a shock to find herself surrounded by so many of them when she moved to the capital. While Theresa is from a mountain village in the south, from an area inhabited almost exclusively by Kivailo, and has gone to demonstrations with her family ever since she was a child. But it has been years since her father could go with them – as a police officer, he’s now always needed on those days.

I always like finding connections between the different Kivailo World stories, and in the last week or so, I’ve discovered another one. One of the important events in “Masks” is the arrest of Council Priest Salyo, one of the Kivailo’s religious leaders. The Tokrean government has declared Daenay, or Nalanism, as the old Kivailo beliefs are known, a dangerous cult, and the priests are being hunted down, while their followers are presented to the public as a negligibly small minority.

So when Emma, the main character of “Masks” hears that Council Priest Salyo has been arrested, all she can find in the newspapers is a tiny little article saying a Kivailo cult leader has been arrested in a village near Gronnedall.

When I started working on “Goblins”, I needed a name for a small town near the village where Theresa grew up, and because I was too lazy to make up a new name, I called it Gronnedall.

And then I found out that Theresa’s father is a police officer. A police officer in a village near Gronnedall. Huh. That means he’ll probably be involved in Salyo’s arrest.

It’s interesting how different stories force me to look at events like this from different angles. To Emma and her friends in “Masks”, the people who arrested Salyo are the “bad guys”. To Theresa, her father is definitely a “good guy”. After all, Salyo is openly defying the government by teaching his Nalanistic beliefs, and while Theresa has grown up demonstrating for Kivailo equality, freedom of religion was never talked about, and why would anyone want to turn their back on God anyway? And even from my perspective, even though I’d rather side with Salyo, Theresa’s father wasn’t doing anything wrong. He’s just doing his job. And it makes me wonder… I know Salyo dies/is killed in prison, but does that necessarily mean his killers were bad people? Maybe they were just following orders, “just doing their job”? Maybe they wanted to refuse, but couldn’t risk losing their jobs. Maybe they had nightmares about it for years. Maybe it drove them to become involved in the Kivailo rights movement. Maybe this is trying to grow into another story. (No, damn it, I don’t need any more stories! Go away!)

This just reminds me, once again, that there are no “bad guys”. I’ve always hated the evil-just-for-the-sake-of-it villain. Sure, some people may do things that most of us see as evil. Sure, some people do things that most of us see as evil. But from their point of view, there was a good and valid reason for them.

I’m tempted to ramble on about this subject, but that would just turn into a rant about books I’ve read, and I’m supposed to write about writing. So to get back to that subject, I try to avoid having real “villains” in my stories. It’s not always easy – especially in last year’s NaNo: how do you decide the outcome of the final battle in a fantasy book when you can’t say who the bad guys are? How do you decide who deserves to win?

When I started to write about the Kivailo world when I was thirteen or fourteen, I still had the evil-just-for-the-sake-of-it government as my antagonist. And since then, I struggle to put that right by trying to see their side too, by giving them valid reasons for what they do, by making the Kivailo a little less perfectly peaceful, a little less innocent victims…

It’s once again near midnight, and I haven’t written anything yet. So I’d better stop babbling on here, and work on that thing that vaguely resembles a novel.

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