Friday, June 19, 2009

Are Your Bad Guys...

...well, bad?

Yeah, mine aren't. I've been doing a lot of reading ('member last week? I read like 8 books) and one of the books I read was GONE by Michael Grant. You should totally read it if you're into YA or futuristic stuff. It's not aliens or anything. It's simply amazing.

Okay, the man made his bad guys really, really (really really really) bad. I was supposed to be paying attention to other stuff in the book, but I found myself really (should I use that word again? Bonus points if you use it in your comment! Ha!) admiring how BAD his bad guys are.

Like terrifying bad.

Like encasing people's hands in cement bad.

Like hurting people and enjoying it bad.

Yeah, my bad guys aren't that bad. Are yours? How do you make them that way? I need a Making Your Bad Guys Really Really Really Bad - So Bad Everyone Will Hate Them and What They Do crash course.

Lay it on me.


the one who lives her words said...

Bad guys are fun to write about. But there's always the two categories that they can easily fall in. There's the-I really don't care what I say but you should be scared of me grrr-catergory and then there's the-I can smile while I kill everything that you love and still go to sleep at night-category.

At least, those are the two that I'm trying to induce in my new WIP, Shadow.

I decided to make Death and actual person, so he kinda falls into the second category. He can be a really fun guy but at the end of the day, you wouldn't want to mess with him.

Making Your Character Bad 101:

1. Appearance.

A character can't be Bad or menacing if they're wearing a pink tutu or maybe even a clown suit, unless they have razor sharp teeth like that guy off of It. Put fire into their eyes, make it so people shiver when they read hold cold and dark he/she's gaze was.

2. Dialogue

Villains always have those catchy one-liners that make you laugh and cry at the same time. Look at the Joker, he's super bad and yet he has killer lines.

3. Attitude. No cliches. The Bad in a character isn't defined by he/she's attitude, it's more on how the person acts. So don't be afraid to make him as light-hearted and easy-going as possible.

And finally:

4. Actions. As long as your character, kills with a smile on he/she's face, blows things up, takes over the world, burns down a school filled with children, make up insane rules in a futuristic world or anything remotely terrible, he or she is bad. Real bad.

Abby said...

My bad guys are bad. Evil alien, kill every human bad. To me, the bad part is easy. Just make them delight in all things evil. The challenge, I think, is making them more sympathetic, more rounded. I want my readers to understand why they're evil, maybe even like them because of it. Then there's an emotional connection when they're defeated.

Sylar on Heroes is a good example. First season he was all bad, and you just wanted him defeated. Gradually, they showed another side of him, a side that wants to be good, even though that side doesn't win. So now he's super evil again, but you can't help wanting him to succeed, because he's had such a crappy life, and you know there's some good in there somewhere.

And yes, I analyze characterization in TV shows and movies all the time now. It's really annoying. Just ask my husband. :)

Anonymous said...

I love writing the bad guys. Remember Seth - I would say he was really, really, relaly bad. And even though I knew that is who he was, I had to have my crit partners help me craft him into something "over the top" bad.

For me, I like it when they are creepy Hannibel Lector bad - that is what I am striving for in my stories...

Good luck with this. For me the recipe for badness is :I lot of insanity, an almost likeable quality andd horrific acts...and absolutely no ethics.

Aubrie said...

I think it is important to provide history on the bad guy and explain why he really (extra points) is bad. That way he seems more like a real person and less like he's bad just for the sake of having a bad guy in your book.

That being said, my bad guys aren't very bad either. I think it's because I grew up in a sheltered bubble. I have to work on making them bad as well.

WindyA said...

Firstly, nice job on the ellipsis usage this week.

I personally don't know if I want to make my bad guys really THAT bad, at least not upfront. I mean, I think the "really really really"(to quote you) are the ones that do the horrific things, but that you find so intriguing you don't know if you should love them or hate them or run screaming for the hills. I think those are the worst bad guys.

Just my thoughts. :)

Andrea Cremer said...

My bad guys are definitely bad (kiss you while twisting a knife in your gut bad). But they're also bad like heroin, they have an addictive appeal, they are alluring - sometimes mysterious, sometimes glamorous.

I think villains need a level of complexity to capture a reader's interest and I try to make that happen with the nasty lords and ladies who appear in my writing.

Eric said...

My bad guys are bad.


I like the bad guys that make your skin crawl. They scare you on a very basic level. That's the really cool bad guy.

Jamie D. said...

Really (see, I used it!) bad guys are super-fun to write, I think. When I have occasion for a bad dude (not often in romance), it's normally in a horror story. And well, if a story is going to horrify someone, the bad guy has to be truly horrible.

I like sociopaths - they're my favorite. Nice, apparently normal people who simply have no pesky conscience to worry about when they're preying on everyone around them. You *want* to like them, you *want* to believe that they can be fixed, but ultimately, they really can't (and they don't want to be).


quixotic said...

I'm not sure my bad guys are bad enough. Sure they are cold blooded killers, but thats really not super bad in the grand scheme of things. There are much worse evil characters out there. I think I could go for one of those crash courses in making a really evil character.

Icy Roses said...

My bad guys aren't bad. I guess you could say the bad guys simply have objectives that are in the way of the good guys' objectives.

Hmmm. Now I am nervous about my villains! May do a blog post about this.

C. Taylor said...

My bad guys vary. I have one that's a "I'll suck your soul dry and ruin your life" sort of bad while looking dashing and being charming, and then the other who murders 2 in cold blood because of her beliefs, but other than that she's a helpful, hard working girl just trying to take care of her family.

The ultimate bad guy... Blackjack Randall in Outlander.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Hmmm... I don't know if my bad guys are bad, I guess it's not something I spend too much time worrying about - probably because I've been putting all of my worries into whether my heroine is likeable enough - but that's another story.

Mandy said...

I like my bad guys to be REALLY--gray. I hate the typical bad to the bone bad guy. I like mine to be unapologetic about their actions and at the same time living in that gray area that has no distinct definition.

They're neither good, nor bad.... they simply 'are'.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I loved Gone and can't wait to read the sequel. And I'm not even into SF.

My Bad Guy in the book out with agents right now doesn't even appear until the end. But the mc is fighting bigger demons, the emotional consequence of rape. Of course, having mythological creatures trying to kill her doesn't help things either. But they're the minions of the Bad Guy. And yes, he's really bad, just like in the myths.

Marybeth Poppins said...

My Bad Guy...well girl really... is quite the B. She's selfish and seductive and cares nothing for others. She pretty much ruins the lives of people for fun. I'd say she's really bad. But that's just me!

Lisa and Laura said...

We are way too tame for really bad bad guys. It's so funny that you're posting this today because we were just talking this past week about how all of our characters would totally get a PG rating. I'm just not sure we're ever going to be R-rated writers. And I think I'm ok with that.

Danyelle said...

My bad guys aren't bad--just Misunderstood. ;-) I try to give my baddies a reason the reader can accept for their badness. :)

Does using a firebird--one of the most important beings in the world--and caging it against its will count as bad?

Ryan said...

I've used a bunch of different archetypes for villains I guess you could say.

In my first book my villain was a god of disease. He's undead, and suffers from multiple personality disorder. One of his personalities constantly talks about eating the hero. Lol.

The other two types of villains I've used were both vampires. One was a vampire driven basically by instinct. She was a nympho in life, and as a vampire she combined both her needs as a vamp and a nympho.

The other vampire villain I would say is the worst. In the first scene he was a part of he hypnotizes a girl and her fiance. He begins to "stimulate" her and tells her fiance to shoot himself in the head when she climaxes. Out of all of them, I'd say he's the most twisted so far.

Horserider said...

I have a "villain" and he's...bad. Horrible bad. So bad that I was told I had to be careful not to make him "too" bad because then he wouldn't be human. Apparently there has to be some good in everyone...

Brian said...

All this talk about *bad*. Well, yeah, evil is bad, cold-blooded killing is bad, sheer insanity-based murder is bad. BUT: how about he (or she) who kills FOR THE GREATER GOOD as he/she sees it? And when that greater good is, arguably, truly GOOD...that is, when the reader can look at it and say, 'well, bad guy X has a point, maybe that IS really good, even though I'm not comfortable with the killing,'... to me, THAT is a truly scary bad guy. That is a SYMPATHETIC bad-- and if you're half rooting for the bad guy to win and half for them to lose, then you've GOT to get to the end of the story to see which half of your emotion wins, right?

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget