Knowledge of Good and Evil

The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it, or even touch it; if you do you will die.'”

“You won’t die!” The serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”

The woman was convince. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Genesis 3:1-7 (NLT)

The most difficult part of writing a novel is getting into the head of the antagonist and write about his or hers terrible actions. No character should be flat, a Svengali entirely devoid of goodness; to be evil for evil’s sake and no other reason. Their evil actions should have an understandable if not sympathetic motivation.

It should always be a matter of choice, thereby making them responsible for their actions. As such, when they’re forced to accept the consequences, the reader cheers.

The antagonist of my current novel is about to do something so evil, so stomach-churning, I admit to difficulty writing it out. My characters may not be living, breathing humans on this earth, but they are real in my mind. I don’t want to see them harmed. But then I would have a very boring book if the bad guys didn’t do horrible things to the good guys.

Goodness shines much brighter in the shadow than in the light. The success of good against evil in fiction gives the reader hope that goodness can win against the darkest of evils in the real world.

In that sense, as a writer (and only as a writer, mind you. Like most other people, I hate seeing people suffer because of the evil acts of others), I’m a little bit glad Adam and Eve ate the fruit.

If my own eyes weren’t open and I didn’t have the knowledge of good and evil, my stories would be boring indeed.

Even as my conscience squirms.

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