Writing Excuses 8.47: Roguishness with Scott Lynch

Scott Lynch, author of The Republic of Thieves, joins Brandon, Howard, and Mary before a live audience at GenCon Indy to talk about roguishness.

Why do we like rogues? What can a roguish character accomplish in terms of story purposes? Can the rogue accomplish things a more classically moral character cannot? Most importantly, what do authors need to do in order to help readers like the rogues, rather than just thinking they’re awful people?


For research purposes… okay, no. Forget that. Complicate a scene or story by adding an unexpected injury or illness.

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch, narrated by Michael Page

9 thoughts on “Writing Excuses 8.47: Roguishness with Scott Lynch”

  1. One thing with the “what the hell, hero” thing is that it can jar you out of the immersion, mainly if the response is more compassionate than we can reasonably expect from the character. Imagine, if you will, in Return of the Jedi, the Emperor calling Luke out on using the Dark Side to defeat Vader in that lightsaber battle (as chastisement, not encouragement). Admittedly a somewhat extreme example, but I’ve seen books do it in a similarly jarring manner.

  2. Fantastic episode, one of the best of this season. Brandon’s system of coming up with witty dialogue (/awful metaphors) was great, and Scott’s perspective on roguishness is invaluable. Thanks again, Writing Excuses crew–and guests–for the work you guys do to give us such great advice!

  3. This is perhaps my D&D background showing through, but it generally seems that a roguish behavior also focuses on cutting through complexities of a situation, often by wit, but also by brutality.

    The quintessential roguish moment seems to be in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, when Indie shoots the Cairo swordsman. This sort of relates to the noted “clever thing I thought of 3 months after the fact” phenomenon, but with actions instead of words.

  4. @J D Tolson
    I’d have to agree. If you want some excellent rogue examples, check out R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt books. A LOT of the supporting cast are rogues to varying degrees of charm (Regis) to evil (Dinin, Artemis Entreri). (A pity the writing in general isn’t all that great. Decent, yes, but also the exact kind of thing literature buffs point at when they say genre fiction is inferior…there’s pretty much nothing underneath the surface in those books (or rather, there is after the series hits its second digit in book numbers, but it’s handled so poorly that it just doesn’t work)).

    As for the Indiana Jones example, I watched that with my brother and two of my cousins – all for the first time, and we said almost in unison “just shoot him” during the rather impressive dismemberment of air. It was hilarious, but probably more so because all 4 of us called it in unison. (I’d argue that shooting a hostile and clearly superior swordsman should be the first thing you think of, unless you don’t have a gun…in which case, the proper response is running for dear life.

  5. Look around the web for Harrison Ford’s explanation of the Indiana Jones scene — apparently there was a long choreographed fight scene, however, Harrison had eaten some food that disagreed with him. So he improvised, and ran back to the toilet instead. They kept the improvisation.

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