Recently I blogged about my recipe
for writing pulp action. Soon after, I came across some excellent writing advice from an author. It applies to any fiction, not only pulp; but it supports the broader agenda of avoiding nihilism.
The author says to introduce a character in a way that showcases a virtue rather than a fault. As he points out, there is a (bad) idea regnant that we are defined by our faults, and that being good is unrealistic or unrelatable. (I made a similar point
years ago, though not in the context of writing.)
He further says, "Internal conflicts between good and bad qualities are boring." I'd not say boring
; perhaps too commonplace. But then he says:
Show me a conflict between duty and compassion, or courage and wisdom, or love and justice.
That imperative is illuminating
. Fiction requires conflict; but conflict does not require evil. Depicting a clash of virtues denies vices an equal standing, and it's a nice way to show that virtue is vigorous and not — as the modern world would tell you — merely the absence of vice.
Most importantly, the reader is given characters that elicit admiration, not pity or condescension.
Anyhow — something to keep in mind.