Awhile back, when I was enrolled in an online YA writing class, I transferred my observation of the world as I saw it during my youth into my writing. For an assignment, I submitted a story outline where evil triumphs over good. My classmates disapproved of this conclusion. But it’s not fair that the villain doesn’t get their comeuppance! But the protagonist’s good deeds don’t pay off! I struggled with this feedback for awhile because I believed that my story's conclusion depicted reality.
I don't think there's any industry, community, or age group that's completely immune to people who don’t play nice, who bully, who are narcissistic and two-faced, who loudly assume causes for blatant self-serving motivations. Unfortunately, sometimes I see people like this thrive. At times, I’ve also seen generous and good-natured people get mistreated or exploited.
Growing up, I’ve read many stories where good behavior is rewarded, and I feel this paradigm in kidlit sets up a false expectation for young readers that life will always be fair if you play by the rules. I intended to show readers that life might not be fair, you might not get what is due to you, but you can move on….like the way I learned to move on during times in my life when I wasn’t treated fairly.
Still, I let my classmates’ and teacher’s feedback sink in. So I thought for a long time and finally decided I could try a different approach to my story.
Before arriving there, I also considered my feelings as an adult about consequences for good and bad behavior. So while I'm aware there are still terrible, unjust things that happen to many people around the world, I can't deny that sometimes the universe does come through, that things go around and come around, both the good and the bad, in twisted, unexpected ways. Sort of on this topic...Years ago, author Nathan Bransford wrote a post called Doing the Right Thing that I found optimistic and enlightening.
Have you ever needed some time to process feedback about your writing? What got in the way of immediate acceptance of the feedback?
How do you feel about stories where evil triumphs over good?