Hero or Villain?

Would you rather play the role of the villain in a book that has deep themes and everlasting truth – OR – be the hero/heroine in a novel that is a fun read but doesn’t have much depth?

This question was posted on the WaterBrook Multanomah Fiction Facebook page last week.


Good thought-provoking question with no simple answer.

Initially, without putting any thought to it at all, I went with option 1, based solely on my preference for books with “deep themes and everlasting truths.” But then it occurred to me that in order to have the deep and meaningful book I want, the cost is I have to be the “bad guy,” and I’m not sure I like being the bad guy.

When you think about it though, that’s not unlike real life. Sometimes to have deeper and more meaningful lives and experiences we have to be the “bad guy.” For example, with my sons, we can live a surface-level life and I can let them have and do whatever they want. Or, I can be the “bad guy” and teach them sometimes painful lessons of responsibility, self-control, respect, etc.

It’s true for the Christian life too. We can live surface-level happy-go-lucky lives doing good here and there when it’s convenient, or to have a deeper more meaningful life and walk we may have to choose some hard things and allow ourselves to be set apart.

To be the good guy — the hero — in a story that’s just for fun is, in my view, the lesser option, but in life this is what I see a lot of people choose. I’ve chosen it at times too. We choose to be the hero of our own story, and the story centers around us, when in reality I don’t think life is supposed to be so egocentric.

Getting back to the question, about books, at any given time I’m reading more than one book. Sometimes at the same time that I’m reading a non-fiction study of sorts with the intent of researching and learning I’ll read a “mindless” fiction book that doesn’t require as much thought or reflection. But even with the so-called self-described “mindless” fiction there’s always meaning to be extrapolated and I can’t stop my brain from going there. For me, it’s like I’m reading deep and deeper. If I start to read something too shallow I’m prone to lose interest and quit reading.

Please comment! I’d love to hear others’ thoughts and discussions on hero or villain, either in books or real life.


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