Create good 'Baddies' when you start building fictional characters for your novel with agro bullies, nasty bastards and dangerous bitches.
We know that a truly memorable antagonist is not a one-dimensional super villain bent on world domination for no particular reason. Three-dimensional, credible bad guys create essential story complications, personalize conflict, add immediacy to a story line, and force the protagonist to evolve. Every established author and even aspiring writers know they must create good baddies in order to make their novel a bestseller and have readers turning pages super fast.
Bullies, Bitches and Bastards by Jessica Page Morrell explores the rise in popularity of anti-heroes, how anti-heroes possess some of the same qualities of villains but with the soul of a hero, and how these complicated characters reflect contemporary society.
From unlikable protagonists and dark heroes to bullies and mischief makers to villains and arch nemeses, Bullies, Bastards and Bitches shows readers how to create nuanced bad guys who are indispensable to the stories in which they appear.
Character traits are not only to show them in action but just as importantly to show them fall apart at the seams under duress when they’re involved in an extreme or highly emotional situation. Very quickly you’ll encounter a table showing primary traits, where you list three to six traits that will showcase your character throughout the story and which will act as the foundation to their being.
A character’s single most important job in a story is to stimulate the reader’s emotions.
You’ll also list secondary traits to support their primary traits and add depth and of course include mannerisms and habits. Counter contrasting traits will expose your character’s deepest layers and bring to the surface their vulnerabilities. Sounds like you’re being horrid to the ‘squatters’ in your head, but actually this is what really makes them believable and interesting.
I’ll never forget my first writing mentor told me yonks ago: put your characters up a tree and then throw stones at them. Obviously this is to cause conflict but in doing so you will be showing the character’s personality and bringing out their strengths and weaknesses. And showing emotion!
Let your characters surprise you with their antics, thoughts and beliefs. And give them different values – far removed from your own safe world.
In the Case of the Unlikeable Protagonist Jessica says that writers who want to add spice and conflict and who want to push the boundaries of storytelling, will include characters that range from a bit odd to selfish and downright evil.
She gives details of likeable versus unlikeable protagonists such as someone who has a certain toughness and courage, someone who is their own worst enemy to someone who creates pain for other more vulnerable characters. She also gives reasons why you’ll feature a likeable or unlikeable protagonist with a ‘Rogues Gallery’ showing examples in successful fiction.
It gets far more interesting when you get deeper into the book and start looking at how to create real baddies, such as an anti-hero bastard. These are often a bad ass, a maverick or a screw-up. If you dare to write about these compelling fictional people you really don’t need to redeem them with an ending where they see the error of their ways, mend their flaws, or allow their flinty hearts to be transformed into a choir loft of goodness.
Jessica’s breakdown helps you to identify with literary characters who have stood the test of time and in doing so you will get a better idea of what to do with your characters. Or more likely, what you’ll allow them to do to themselves when they start festering inside your head.
If you want to create a ‘run-for-your-life’ person who is a real bully and cause a hubbub of fizz you’ll need to get to the middle of the book. along with a job description (as if you need one) you’ll get a long list of casts for your antagonist. Here we meet a bad boss, an adulterer, femme fatale, control freak, betrayer and many more.
And if you think this is way cool, you’ll need to hurry on so you can get to the villain’s lair. I really don’t want to spoil this part, so I will only go as far as tell you that I found very inspiring ideas for my baddie - I will leave it there and you can delve into the book to learn just how to tighten the noose.
Before I go, I just want to add that you don’t only learn how to create bullies, bastards and bitches as the name of the book implies, more so, you learn how to master a psycho, psychopath and sociopath and what the diffs is between them, along with monsters, creatures and lost souls. Take some time to ponder on that section with the characteristics and modus operandi of each to give your novel character depth and exciting plot points.
With chapters like ‘Bad to the Bone’, ‘Ice in Their Veins’, ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ and ‘Dangerous Women’ this book is a must for creating the bad boys (and girls) of fiction!