What could be more beautiful than a beautiful day? A beautiful bad boy. Admit it… girls can’t resist a guy who is bad news. It’s not a new thing, romanticizing the kind of fellow mother’s warn against has a long history. Whether it is the power to manipulate a situation or a take no prisoners type showing weakness. Something about it just makes the blood pump to all those places a good girl shouldn’t even know about.
There is a fine line between the hope for good that could be found in a boy gone wrong and evil that knows no bounds. Something is sexy about a sassy comeback, arrogance and flair for danger. Every snarky word and hot and cold behavior is like honey. The craving exists to taste it. Guys like that should be illegal and knowing that creates the desire to break the rules. No matter how many times it gets under the skin, makes teeth grind or redefines the word asshole in the dictionary, the need builds for more and more. Go away, far away, but not too far before you comeback.
There is the other side of that… the heartless and cold bastard that is just evil. Pre-meditatively committing the worst depravity, twisting situations until they are out of control. Pure malevolence is not hot. The worst of the worst is incapable of redemption. No matter how alluring that is supposed to be it just produces the creeps. The sadistic desire to enslave others and make them complicit to the same brand of morals defies humanity that most stories actually need to leave the reader feeling satisfied at the end. This kind of villain might be capable of having a change of heart, but waiting for it probably isn’t worth it.
Movies, TV and books have witnessed many levels of bad-assery. James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Shakespeare’s Romeo, Tony Stark from Ironman, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Han Solo, Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl, The Princess Bride’s Westley, Robin Hood, Dexter, Holden Caulfield from the Catcher in the Rye, Edmund from Mansfield Park, and I would be ashamed if I didn’t add my book boyfriend Jace Wayland, they are all provocative so they slip under the radar while irritation or suspicion stirs the blood. The unknown and mysterious leaves readers susceptible. Those are few good examples but fiction is heavy with sexy guys who inflame curiosity just being their impossible selves. Rhett Butler’s careless nonchalance, Heathcliff’s too human flaws, Pacey’s dry wit, Will Hunting’s blue collar mad intelligence, Mr. Darcy’s derision, there isn’t just one formula that goes into the birth of making a bad boy bad. The truth though is that the result is the same, they are mouth wateringly irresistible.
My mom likes to tell me that I wasn’t like other kids and I never really cared what other people thought. This grew into a quiet disregard for the boys that towed the line. I liked them to have longer than acceptable hair, to talk back to the teacher and it was always a plus if they were some sort of artist. A guy with a vocabulary has always made my heart flutter. Just remembering back to my wee younger years makes me think of Angelo, the new kid in seventh grade who had an Italian accent, one of those long strips in the back of his hair that we called a “tail”, and he knew all the current events which made him a great partner in Social Studies. I started early… yet to come was Brendan, the eighth grader who asked me to let him feel me up during recess, I didn’t. Pat who was in the S.E.D education program who came to my house to get drunk and make out in my closet. Darren the awesome new wave music fan who stumped my mom when he asked, “to wet his palate” the one time he came for dinner. And then there was Mark, Beckett, Will, Ian, John, Luther, Jeremy and Matt… all musicians.
All of them helped fuel my imagination. But before any of them got to influence me I tried my hand at writing a few fictions in middle school. One of them was about a group of homeless kids who didn’t fit in. (I know, never been done before, huh?) I only vaguely remember the names of the characters but there was a girl named Ariane and a bad boy named Remi. Although I had read a lot, writing was incredibly different. I might have only got to page fifteen and those were handwritten pages, so I guess it would be like three or four typed. I tried, but he wasn’t a success in anyway. I think my mom has boxes of poems, journals, short stories and rants I wrote between elementary school and high school, somewhere in her basement. I remember having a real flair for the dramatic.
After that I had a few creative writing assignments with boys who were pretty watery on the naughty side. Mastering a male character that has a good balance of both positive and negative qualities isn’t simple. It’s too easy to make a good guy look like he should be wearing girly panties or out of character if you make him have one angry outburst. Even more difficult is making a regular guy have that “it” factor. Personalities who are too humorous or even too serious often come off as flat. While really good characterization works best with a little bit of “I joke so you don’t know the real me”, you can also make him feel deflective and shallow. Balancing it is important. Sooner or later you have to give that guy a moment of weakness or he just won’t feel real. In my writing this only developed with time.
Some of the best YA/NA books that I have read in the last year are successful with wayward males because their rebels make you want to take a walk on the wildside. Danger and trouble is written all over many of these guys from the introduction and you just can’t help but wan’t to know how they work. The compulsion to see them meet their match spurs you on.
One of my favorite douchebag boyfriends is Daemon Black from Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Lux series. You get bits and pieces of why he is like he is throughout the series, you see that he has the ability to be tender and sensitive, but you don’t want him to be. A great deal of enjoyment comes from listening to his smart-ass mouth and you want more and more. The series is on the third book and the evolution of his character makes me love him a little more with every dipshit remark. But the best thing about him is he becomes so much more dimensional through time. Seeing him be a vulnerable jack-ass is a beautiful thing.
Wendy Higgin’s Kaidan Rowe is another naughty boy that makes you fan yourself reading his parts and need a shower after finishing the book. The Sweet books are a paranormal series and Kaiden Rowe is pure sin. He is a creature of temptation; he likes to tempt others and allow temptation to guide him. In everything he says, how he moves, the way he lives, he is the embodiment of seduction. If that isn’t enough that he is volatile, dangerous and his very existence threatens the virtue of every woman he meets. Watching him develop morality is intriguing. When his confessions finally come they don’t create a sense of deficiency, it shows that he has redirected his seduction and it makes him more desirable.
That is the real key to any character, the capacity for depth… giving a bad boy dimensions allows him to control his reader. And if a book doesn’t inspire you to finish it, then reading becomes a chore. Heroes, anti-heroes, villains, tragic figures and vengeful beings who have the ability to touch something inside you so that you can see their motivations, feelings, desires, hopes and dreams, move anyone that reads of them to wish for their redemption.
Below is a little piece I wrote from le Cirque with Xiah, Meridan, and my bad boy–Misha.
Meridan chuckled. “I would have to be desperate to crawl into bed with you and Verity.”
“Oh? Is there a chance you would crawl into my bed without her?” Misha asked one eyebrow raised.
Xiah threw another cloth at him and said, “You have no chance at all with her. She doesn’t accept used and throw away items.”
Meridan smiled to herself listening to them. She found another one of her skirts. Did Verity not have any clothes of her own? And why was it that Meridan never noticed any of her things gone?
“I’m not a throw away item!” Misha scoffed.
Meridan laughed, “Are you admitting you have been used?” Xiah’s head was shaking while his chuckle joined Meridan’s.
Misha quipped, “Used but always cleaned before being used again. So in actuality it is almost like I am brand new.”
Meridan shook her head. “No Misha, that means you are well used.”
Thanks for reading. <3