Is it possible to redeem a character who is supposed to be good, but does something inexplicably bad?

Let me give you an example so you can further understand where I'm coming from.

A and B were exes. In a night of high tension and emotions, they end up sleeping together. It's later revealed that B had a girlfriend they hadn't brought up for numerous reasons. However, the character isn't supposed to be a bad person.

Is it possible for a character to be considered "good" in the eyes of the readers after doing something so universally deemed as morally bankrupt? How much should the character do to come back from something like this? Or is it possible that no matter what, this will stain the character's reputation?

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm surprised at this question. At some point 'redemption' is a feature of the majority of novels in existence. The general format for romance novels is (1) Boy gets girl (2) Boy loses girl (3) Boy gets girl back.

At point (2) He usually does something stupid (sleeping with exes is often a theme).

It should also be noted that Goldilocks broke into somebody's house and stole their food. Jack Bauer tortures people for fun and Dr Gregory house does something despicable every week.

Personally, I believe the simple notions of good and bad are juvenile. Stories are best served when the writer advocates for both sides.

I recall a situation: Two twins (girls). The boyfriend of twin A sleeps with twin B. The story won a competition and an argument on the publisher's forum ensued - Whose fault was it? Readers were split 50/50.

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.