Bird Face Wendy

Things relevant to reading, writing, publishing or marketing teen fiction.

Pity for the Snake

I never again want to see a snake torn into four pieces.

My husband and I returned to our new home in a new state after running one of a hundred errands required by such a change. What we found in the back yard was no housewarming gift.

A big snake–probably (originally) four feet long or more–lay massacred. Our youngest dog was splattered in blood and guts, as was one of the porch posts and an area of grass.

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Public domain image

By entering our fenced yard, the snake had taken the kind of chance that a story’s antagonist does by entering a potential hero’s territory. And this snake may not have been a danger to anyone. (We’ve yet determined exactly what kind of snake he was.) Many antagonists aren’t truly evil, but they bring out the more noble qualities of the protagonist. In the case of my young dog, maybe her protective instincts caused her to overreact. Even protagonists make mistakes.

I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the snake, who could be only what genetics and his environment made him. If he’d bitten one of my dogs, that would be different.

I often develop pity for the antagonist when an author provides a glimpse into the life events that molded his character. Unless he is a murderer, rapist, child molester, or preys upon the elderly or disabled, there is usually something revealed about him that softens my heart toward him.

When is the last time you felt pity for the bad guy or gal in a work of fiction?

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