The conflict between good and evil is age-old. Conflicting forces have been waging war on one another since dawn touched the earth. As a writer it is an essential skill to be able to have clear cut roles for heroes and villains so that the audience can root for the character that they are supposed to. Over time what is clear-cut has been muddied though and we now find ourselves relating to characters who are less than pristine. What does that say about story telling if anything?
I think that the best characters are the ones that people can connect with. Characters that are flawed and human are more understandable than the ones who are held on pedestals. Part of a good story is being able to follow an individual’s motives and what drives them to make the choices that they do. As the audience our role is to understand who the people in the story. This is more than what they look like. This involves creating a bond with a character similar to relationships that are formed in real life.
I have seen amazing protagonists devolve into heathens without remorse and yet I still found myself hoping for the best for them. Then again you can see creatures that look human but are morally corrupt in the beginning evolve into a higher version of who they are. As the debased person reaches enlightenment you find yourself filled with hope and admiration for the obstacles that they overcame.
A good story needs wonderful character development in order for it to be a success. One dimensional characters are becoming something of the past. Our world has created the mini-series and the saga and because of that we are allowed time to connect with characters more so than ever before.
A tall dark man is no longer enough to satisfy our thirst for character understanding. We now want to know his parental upbringing, his childhood, any traumatic events that he has suffered, whether he has loved or not, is he essentially good or essentially evil, what are his goal, what does his heart desire, what do his actions mean and so many more things. The best novelists and story tellers are those who understand the need for dimensions.
As people we want to be understood. We want our mistakes to be seen in the grander picture instead of allowing them to define us. We want our lives to be looked at as a whole. Characteristics and personality traits are what separates us from beasts.