Looking at it from both Sides

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

Since I get all my words from the voices in my head, I’ll have to ask them about this one. Perhaps the question should be, “which perspective do I enjoy experiencing the narrative from best?”

I’ve been given stories with both perspectives and while the hero’s journey is a staple, there is something about the villain’s journey as well. It can be refreshing to see the situation through their eyes and can give you a whole new slant to the tale. And, if the villain comes across as loveable or appealing enough, there can still be the thrill of finding out if they will triumph.

In life, good doesn’t always win, neither should it. And writing should reflect that. In my stories, the person who appears to be the hero will not always triumph in the way that convention suggests. There is more than one sort of win, the important thing is the journey. If it’s from good to bad or in the opposite direction is to a certain extent immaterial.

After the dust has settled, what remains of the character defines the journey. They might have lost but become a better person, or won the prize but lost something vital along the way. The prize itself might not turn out to be what was envisaged at the start.

There’s enough in the last paragraph for a whole post!

I’ve also written a multi-viewpoint mini-series of novels (The Rocks of Aserol and A New Life in Ventis), with alternating parts from each of the main characters, interspersed with ensemble sections. Although the story demanded it, I’m pretty sure that these books were influenced by the George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones approach.

I found that describing the action from the villains POV, followed by the hero’s reaction to it, to be a fascinating experience. It gave me a deeper understanding of the way the same event could be viewed from different angles, I can only hope that it did the same for the reader.

I also have one character who has been both hero and villain. Finn Douglas is a man who starts out as a navy pilot and moral, upstanding citizen. By the time the first part of his story (Myra) ends, he’s become Dave Travise, a deserter hiding in a dead man’s shoes and operating on the fringes of legality.

His journey is interesting, to say the least. As we follow it, we see that any random event might trigger a response in him from either side of the coin. He comes to see that morals can be a luxury when you’re trying to stay alive.

His story has developed through the second and subsequent parts of his series. As it has, it’s become ever more clear that, if there’s been one change in his outlook, there could always be another. His alignment, to good or bad is dependant on outside influences.

Just like it is with all of us.

Let me know what you think about this week’s subject.

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I’d love to get your comments, please leave them below. While you’re here, why not take a look around? There are some freebies and lots more content, about me, my writing and everything else that I do. You can join my newsletter for a free novella and more news by clicking this link.


12 Responses

  1. Steven Smith

    I love this idea, and I’d say the same as you – it depends. If the story dictates following the protagonist, then I would. If the antagonist is the core of the story, so be it. My first effort at a novel was based upon the idea of Jack the Ripper and how he was always ahead of the police. It followed Jack and his journey. It’s what that story needed.

    • Richard Dee

      The needs of the story, far more important than any other consideration.

  2. Stevie Turner

    I prefer multi-viewpoints. I find it more interesting to write about how more than one person sees the same situation.

    • Richard Dee

      It’s surprising how the same thing is seen by people with a different part to play in the adventure.

  3. P.J. MacLayne

    I think each of us has the capacity to be both good and bad. It’s a daily question of which we choose at the moment.

    • Richard Dee

      Yes, it can be fascinating to see what reaction you’ll get, especially if it’s not what you expect from that particular character.

  4. Amy Miller

    I feel like multiple viewpoints enhance the experience. And it’s just fun.

  5. Chris L Adams

    I’m going to have to try this. I have novels where I hop from one POV to another, but usually stay with the main character or an associate. However, I’ve not done much from the bad guy’s POV as I like to leave them mysterious and not give away too much about what they’re up to. In my favorite reads, I usually end up with a favorite POV and when it changes, I sometimes rush thru it to get back to where I want to be; so that might be why I stick with my main dude when I write?

    Good topic, Richard! And most importantly, food for thought, and perhaps improvement in my writing.

    • Richard Dee

      I must admit, I’ve enjoyed writing from the bad guys POV, the change of perspective is refreshing. And why should the good guy always win, it’s hardly realistic is it?

      • Chris L Adams

        Ha! You’re right. I may have to ponder a story where the good guy dies a horrid death trying to save his GF who is eviscerated by the bad guy who then goes on the claim the treasure, win the kingdom, gains the magic item of power and enslaves the hero’s gorgeous, twin sisters . . . and no one can do a thing about it.

        • Richard Dee

          Yeah, that works for me. 🙂 I’ll read that one when it comes out!!!!!

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