As in real life, books contain casts of characters as unique as winter snowflakes. If they didn’t, they’d lose their magic and compassion. People find immense joy in reading when they stumble across three-dimensional characters that remind them of themselves — or someone that they know.
In my books (or drafts), I tried to include a wide array of personalities that would serve to broaden the story line as well as provide some thought-provoking questions about the inception of their traits. How would these characters interact? What is her favorite pastime? Why does he walk like that? Readers are inquisitive creatures, which makes writing all the more enjoyable.
A few stock characters can usually be found in most fictional novels, if not all of them. But whether there’s a courageous hero, a powerful heroine, a cunning villain, or a plucky sidekick, the most exciting character (to me, at least) is the wounded anti-hero. This character is often defined by a pain-ridden past, a fierce internal struggle, and the capacity to be a hero. Make no mistake: villains and anti-heroes are NOT always the same. Villains are openly evil, complete with evil laughs and evil hand rubs and evil armies at their command. Anti-heroes are struggling against their nature and against what they know to be right at the same time.
Do they win? Not necessarily. In fact, not usually. At least, they don’t “win” according to our connotation of the term.
Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series is a perfect example of an anti-hero. Throughout the series, you find yourself alternating between rooting for and against him. In the end, you realize his great internal struggle. While some fans continue to vilify him, many argue that his life was, indeed, heroic. It’s all about perspective. Another example of an anti-hero would be Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker from the Star Wars saga. (My nerdy is showing, I know!) In Star Wars, we watch as Anakin turns from a young, powerful person with good intentions to a bitter, broken monster because of his life experiences. But also, like Severus Snape, he ultimately redeems himself.
And that leaves us at redemption, one of the most touching and awe-inspiring qualities of an anti-hero. In my dystopian trilogy-in-progress, the heroine — Enna Price — finds herself fighting against several enemies, the most of which is herself. (No spoilers here … *whistle innocently*)
After all, the best heroes are often anti-heroes who win the battle against their dark nature.