Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions... by Diane Bator

They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. So are the pages of a good novel.

In real life, we all have all had good intentions that go wrong. That is one of those things that makes us all human and makes our characters more believable. Sometimes a character is only "evil" because he or she makes choices that seem like a good idea at the time. Many times he has the ability to undertake something that will correct a bad situation but fails to do so due to spite, procrastination, laziness or vice. These situations are what create such great tension and conflict in many novels and movies.

One of the best examples I can think of is Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. He is a character we all love to hate, yet we find out in the end that all he has wanted from the beginning is to protect Harry rather than see him killed. His actions were intended to help Harry all along and yet, Snape's own good intentions cost him his life.

In my third Wild Blue Mystery novel The Bakery Lady, Christina Davidson has good intentions when she returns to Packham to help out in her family bakery when her mother dies, but gets stuck with running the shop when her father takes off to Florida to grieve. While part of her wants to remain in town until her father returns, she soon discovers her husband stands accused of murder. 

Private Detective and Good Samaritan Leo Blue has the best of intentions when he promises to help set things straight and plans to bring husband and wife together for Christmas. Even if it costs him his sanity and possibly the love of his life. It seems the harder he tries to solve the case, the more his good intentions will cost him.

One good quote about good intentions comes from Stephen Garrard Post writing about altruism: "If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, it is partly because that is the road they generally started out on." In other words, mankind normally acts from less worthy, selfish motives. While that may not be normally true in real life, it does make for some great reads.

May 2016 bring many more fantastically flawed characters to read & write about.

Diane Bator