The Unexpected Traitor

The Unexpected Traitor

There’s always that guy. He might be the best friend of the hero, or maybe one of the secondary characters. He seems so cool in the beginning, but he turns out to be a dick in the end. It’s not his fault; it’s a flaw in his character: one that you put there.

Creating the unexpected traitor is a hard thing to do. You have to write a character that is believable and nice, but has some backstory that sets them up to betray their friends. How do you do that? Would you do it? Betray your friends? It’s one of the hardest stereotypes because he/she has to be likable, for half the book, and then change into a despicable jerk for the remainder. (we might redeem them later, read on to see how).

The traitor usually has knowledge the others don’t have, and it negatively affects their judgment. They want to be part of the team, but there’s that nagging sense, in the back of their mind, that if they don’t do what the dark lord want’s them too, all of their friends will die. So in essence, by acting like a douchebag, they think they’re saving you… How can you fault them for that?

Because they usually get someone killed… and at the worst possible time. Like this…

Serena pulled the gem from her pocket and held it aloft as Kanus had shown her. The crystal turned blue, and then white, and the light from it blasted the cave with a brilliant fire. The force threw Jarod and Garrik against the wall. Jarod slid down the stone and fell upon the floor, rolling in pain and holding his head; she could see he would be alright. Serena ran to Garrick: he wasn’t moving, his head bent at an odd angle: he was dead…

Kanus appeared in the center of the chamber, in a cloud of smoke, laughing. “You thought I gave you that crystal to protect your friends, didn’t you?”

Jarod glared at Serena, a snarl on his face. “You did this! Why?”

Why indeed? She did it because she thought it would help – thought it would further the quest. She was tricked (and this is key) You need to have your traitors tricked, or else, you can’t redeem them.

A redemption arc for an unexpected traitor is just like any other. They have to redeem themselves in some way, and this won’t be an easy one, because they’ve betrayed their friends. It’s hard to come back from that…

I’ll leave it up to you to determine their fate…