Monday, April 03, 2006

Those bad, bad boys.

No, not the heroes on Harleys (though, of course, we love them too).

I mean villains. The bad guys of the book. The evil doers, the ones who get in the way and mess everything up. The men (and women) we love to hate.

I'm currently in the process of trying to make my bad guy badder, less of a pushover and harder to figure out. I have ideas that go above and beyond where he started out, but in second guessing myself I've created an endless loop. If I think he's nasty, as I did in the first place, will he be nasty enough for a reader? If he's nasty enough for a reader, will I think it's too much? If he's not bad enough, will I kick myself eternally, thinking 'I could have gone a step farther'?

Probably. That's the way these things go.

But I do wonder: Do you, as a reader, want to hate the villain? Do you like to like the "bad boy"? Would you prefer to know a lot about him, or be a shadowy figure in ther corner of the page? Other options?


Loribelle Hunt said...

I love bad boys. The hero in one of my current wip's is not a good guy lol. Gotta love 'em. ;)

Lia said...

I don't necessarily want to hate, hate, hate the villain. What I mean is that he doesn't have to be evil incarnate. Sometimes I read a novel and think that the villain is just way over the top--he's a serial killer, serial rapist, wife beater, etc. Oh, and he kicks dogs, too.

In my opinion, a villain can be bad without being eeevvvvvillllll, if that makes sense.

I do want to understand the villain, though. Sometimes you read a story and find out what the villain's done all these terrible things because he thought his parents loved his brother more. This always makes me think, Huh? Show me motivation, not a stupid excuse.

(Sorry for my vehemence. Obviously I have strong feelings on the subject.)

I'm not sure what you mean when you ask if I like to like the "bad boy." Do you mean the villain? I don't want to like him, but it's always a bonus when I can feel compassion for him, even if it's only a tiny bit. That's one sign that the villain is a well-rounded character.

Yes, I do think he can be a shadowy, nebulous figure, too. It all depends on the story.

Shelli Stevens said...

Someone in Divas just did a great workshop on Villians. She said your villian is not so different then you're hero. They're both motivated by things, the villian will just go to any length to get it. Humanize your villian she recommended. I rarely have villians in my books. I wonder if that's a bad thing. Hmm.

Chrysoula said...

I don't generally think a bad guy has to be nasty to be a villain.

That said, if he is, it's always nice if I can get a bit of an idea why he's that way (even if it's just 'he doesn't care about people').

Anytime I actively like the bad guy, I either want him to be redeemed, or I want him to be part of a well-presented tragedy.

I'm a big fan of the 'working for the angels' bad boy.