Now, before you give me a weird look, let me give you an example of a story I'm brainstorming (so you get what I mean about casting criminals) and then I'll tell you why I like writing them.
Criminals from all over the city seek shelter behind its walls when their lives are in danger. The Criminal Guilds' laws demand that no murder take place in the Safe-House, a rule that most follow grudgingly--or die. When weapons expert Mercy falls out with her Guild and takes a job at the Safe-House, she never expects to wake up to multiple murders.
Everyone is a suspect; the sassy cook quick with poison, the mysterious Hood who changes faces every day...even Mercy's own boyfriend.
In the Safe-House, safety is just an empty promise.
|This is Hood, if she/he (who knows?) was in modern times|
Back on topic, there are two reasons I love to write criminal characters.
They Have Depth
I love to dig into criminals' backstories, and try to figure out why they started being criminals. Did they do it because they had no money and needed to provide for their families? Are they good at nothing else? Did something in their past turn them away from the 'traditional' job path or pressure them into doing crime? Or are they just malicious?
Their personalities also intrigue me, as do most anti-heroes. There are more sides to them than what they do for money, and through writing I can explore those hidden sides.
|After having difficulty finding good pictures to represent criminals, I'll just pop one down of Mercy, who smokes when she wants to look tough|
They Challenge Me
My personal morals don't exactly line up with criminals such as thieves and murderers. In fact, they're pretty much the complete opposite.
When I write from a criminal's perspective, I'm in their mind. Feeling what they're feeling. Seeing what they're seeing.
Writing what I don't agree with makes me flex and feel out my own morals; put them to the test. Getting inside criminals' heads and understanding their thought processes challenges me to write them as believable characters. I also challenge what my characters believe. Some of them change their morals throughout the story, others don't.
I think it's important to show both sides of a situation--black and white--and all the shades of grey between. From there characters, readers, and writers can settle on what they believe.
Do you find yourself drawn to morally grey or anti-hero characters? Have you ever written any? Also, let me know if you want me to do a Beautiful People on Safe-House!