Heroes and Heroines

It used to be that stories had heroes and heroines that were more gooder than bader and bad guys that were more bader than gooder. Well, that’s an over-simplification.

Greek playwrights made a living on the good guys (m and f) having flaws that screwed them up. Goldilocks was a B&E felon, a trespasser and a porridge thief. Cinderella wouldn’t stand up for herself, and Prince Charming was a procrastinator, a ditherer. Not to mention that the Big Bad Wolf was doing nothing other than what he was supposed to be doing by hunting pigs for a meal. (Cosmic justice was violated when he was boiled alive by an anal-compulsive, omnivorous pig named Practical!)

A fictional hero (m and f) usually works better when he/she is basically good. The reader then roots for him/her to overcome all the troubles that arise. Even a Michael Corleone starts out as 100 percent good and transforms himself into mostly bad, except he’s  still respectful of his parents and supportive of his children.

My heroes and heroines start out as good but find themselves in circumstances that change them into more complicated human beings. Sometimes they are agents of their own distress; sometimes they are positioned into making unpalatable choices as the best of those available to them.

Some readers have objected to Allyson Pickering — an ambitious, feminist reporter — pushing a story about the Mafia ahead of her facts and getting hammered for it. What can I say? Ambition is a necessary human characteristic that often has a downside.