“A cynic is just a disappointed idealist.” –Carlos Yu
No, I’m not talking about an angsty emo teenager who puts on too much eyeshadow to make them look like a raccoon. You laugh, but I know somebody who looks like that. True story. No, I’m talking about that guy who wears that jade-colored glasses; the one who threw down their pair of rose-colored glasses and stomped on them to see more clearly in the world.
Back in the 40s and 50s, there was a fascination with PIs, especially ones written in 1st person. But what kind of association do we make with those hard guys? Cynicism. It’s a trend that’s trying to grow back, but sadly, the closest people have come to it nowadays is in the genre of Urban Fantasy. And no, UF does not have a cynical main character, no matter how much Jim Butcher wants you to believe him.
A cynic is one who sees the bad part of life. Not necessarily a pessimist, but I haven’t found one to prove that rule. The MC in an UF novel is what TV Tropes likes to call a 1st Person Smart-Ass. Their thoughts on life deal (moan) with “Why does the orphan always have to save the day?” or “Why can’t I go one day without meeting an insane blood mage?” That is not a cynic.
You may be asking, how would I, the all-knowing writer, go about writing a cynic’s internal monologue. My first reply would be not to stroke my ego; it’s too big as it is. My second reply would be that I’m not going to tell you, I’m going to show you.
I headed downstairs to open the front door, namely because I heard the dogs barking at night. Never a good thing. Standing before my feet on the front porch was a letter. My first question was “Who had snuck out to send me this?” I knew it hadn’t been the mail man. Because the Post Office is run by the government.
I added a little humor to show you what a good balance between cynicism and snarky behavior can do. Now, I’m not the expert, so don’t go quoting me on this. But I hope this helps differentiate the definition of what a cynic is and isn’t. But the comman person is an idiot, so I doubt you gained anything from this brief experience.
Suffice to say, the moral of this story is Don’t give a hobo money when they ask. They’re just going to spend it on drugs.