Jon Michael Galindo

~ writing, programming, art ~

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5 September 2015

Storylines: Casual Redemption

To continue the trend of storylines I cannot fully appreciate, “casual redemption” features a character who, though overtly introduced as a villain, is found over the course of the story to be a hero, if a thwarted one. It carries more weight of sacrifice than either redemption or dark redemption, yet its impact comes from an echo of beauty’s storyline, and is consequently one of the most difficult to master.

This storyline rarely makes an appearance, and I will refrain from employing a few, little-known examples. However, Snape’s story in “Harry Potter” follows this trend; Rowling masks his heroism almost to the end. Frankenstein’s monster is found to be not an unreasoning or cruel fiend, but rather an essentially good soul driven to darkness. In the end, Shelley has him sacrifice fellowship in an almost noble gesture.

This storyline will certainly involve a great deal of sacrifice: not for the sake of transforming the character, as would redemption, but rather for the sake of revealing to the reader the character’s true nature. Casual redemption portrays love as universal, though often overpowered, and although there is some impact in the concept, I do not hold to it. Moreover, given its limited appearance in literature, this storyline may lack much of the emotional force of redemption and dark redemption, or else it has rarely been handled properly. Its protagonist, after all, gains little more than isolation through sacrifice. As with dark redemption, I have generally neglected this storyline in favor of more hopeful endings.

In attempting to craft such a story, understand that its heart lies in the portrayal of sacrifice as insufficient. You may consider contrasting a character doomed to casual redemption with a proper hero, as did Rowling, or you may even use this storyline front-and-center, as Gen Urobuchi portrayed Kiritsugu Emiya. However, the former glosses over much of this storyline’s impact: Anything related to beauty is already magnificently difficult to capture. Simultaneously, the latter tends to make for dark endings, as you will find in Shelley’s and Urobuchi’s stories. Your protagonist will lose virtually everything a person might call precious, yet gain a mere pittance of a treasure in its stead. It is this contrast that gives the story, surprisingly, something of beauty’s air; it lends a poignancy to nobility, a fragility to heroism.

© Jon Michael Galindo 2015