As human beings, we’ve come a long way since the days of sitting in caves, marveling over fire and fighting off big things with teeth, but we have not actually evolved all that much (if we had, we wouldn’t still be telling fart jokes) – we are still creatures who quake in the night, frightened of shadows and ghosts and, yes, those big things with the teeth – Society has given us a sense of safety, but beneath the surface we are still on the lookout for danger, and that’s why in our modern world, we all want a good villain.
By that I mean a good solid Bad Guy sort of villain. This is not because we are somehow flawed and are attracted to evil things – quite the opposite – we all want to win, we want to be challenged in our adventures, including into fictional worlds, we want to be able to meet that challenge and come out of the story totally victorious and with a sense of Wow.
Society has given us protection. It just isn’t the same as living in the wilderness. I know this for a fact, I’ve done it (if you haven’t already, see my wilderness stories in the dropdown menu). So, we enjoy the things we do and we bring suitable challenges into our lives.
If you really want to wrap around the challenge physically, you’ll get into sports. If you’re more after a laid-back kind of challenge, wanting to invest emotionally and intellectually rather than actually put yourself into danger, you’ll enjoy watching movies and reading books. We all do it to some degree, it’s our nature.
The point is, whatever level of challenge you want to meet, that challenge has to be good, or you’re just wasting your time. So, if you’re into fiction, the Bad Guys (or the overwhelming odds) have to work or the challenge simply isn’t there for you.
Reading a story is a personal experience. If you are not inside the plot with the characters, adding your ideas and wanting the twists and turns that show up – if you’re not right there with them, you’re not getting anything out of it. In which case, put that book down and go find something else, it is wasting your valuable time. Reading is supposed to provide a positive experience, it is not supposed to make you suffer or leave you bored. We all like excitement and reading is supposed to give you challenges you enjoy.