Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I like (writing) bad boys

I've never been a fan of the bad boys. They never call, they dog around, and they leave you lonely on a Saturday night. Nuh-uh. No, thank you. Most of the time, even when I was young and stupid, I chose the nice guys. Sure, some of them might've not *looked* so nice, like the guy with the mohawk and Circle Jerks t-shirt, but I promise, he was much more teddy bear than Sid Vicious.

Except for when I'm writing. Then--oh boy. The bad boys just bubble right up. The husband in my last manuscript wasn't nice. He was central to the conflict, so he had to be the bad guy. Sure, he had some good qualities, but overall: jackass.

I wanted my current WIP to be different. I didn't want the ol' woman-wisens-up plotline. This husband was going to be cool. Supportive. ...Nice!

I finished up my draft, sent it off to betas, and guess what? NO ONE LIKES HIM. "He did this, he did that, your MC should leave him!" I went back through the manuscript and OMG. They were right! He's an ass!

What the? I like nice guys! I know tons of nice guys! I'm married to a nice guy! Observe:

Cute, right? Nice, too!

Sure, I wanted the husband to be nuanced. Imperfect. I guess I went a little overboard on that. Now I'm going back, chapter by chapter, and taking another look why he's so misunderstood.

What's my problem? Is this some sort of Freudian thing?

Have you ever had a character give you fits like this? Or, have you ever been misjudged?


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I think it's good to evoke a feeling for or against a character. It makes you read on...

JLC said...

Bad boys are more fun to read about! :D

Simon said...

Hi, I was jumping blogs at random and landed here.

I love writing about flawed characters. It is so much easier than trying to convey 'nice'.

More than that, I love to start with a stereotyped flawed character and then slowly demolish the stereotype.

Best of all is to write without regard to character and let the madness just flow onto the page. It doesn't always make good reading, but at least I enjoyed it.

Have fun!


jdsanc said...

My husband read my latest WIP recently and said, what? another ass? are you trying to tell me something? And the thing is, I tried to make this guy more middle of the road. Things is, I'm not Nicolas Sparks. My guy was no winner. I married one, and obviously you did too, but they just aren't so fun to write about. Go figure. Good luck with your rework!

Lola Sharp said...

I married a nice guy and 15years later we are still happy and in love.
BUT, I dated my share of bad boys prior to him.

AND, I LOVE writing bad boys, and pseudo bad boys that are really good guys. (kinda like your Circle Jerks wearing punk rocker)

WendyCinNYC said...

Sharon--That's true. I guess "hate" is better than "meh, whatever."

JLC--I agree, but in this one, the MC is a (former) bad girl. In all, too much badness going on.

Simon--Welcome! I, too, loved flawed characters. I save my *most* flawed for short stories.

jdcoughlin--Same experience here. I guess it would give me a complex if my husband were writing about a bunch of bitchy wives. Fiction...or catharsis? Hmmm.

Lola--Aww, sweet. Good luck with your fictional bad/good boys.

Anne said...

Yep, as JLC said, bad boys are more fun to read about.

Sage Ravenwood said...

Holy...I would rather this problem, instead I made a strong female character unlikable. Even worse she's my main character. She has a lot of issues still, I need to soften her up. Give her heart.

She's not the first either, I have a tendency to make most of my female characters mini Amazon's, tough broads that can take care of themselves.

Women with a bad guy complex.(Hugs)Indigo

MeAgain said...

Lord yes, I have. Unfortunately, it's in the "ME" based character. I hate her guts. Talk about Freudian...

Cheyanne said...

I'm currently writing a VERY bad boy who will somehow, hopefully, redeem himself in the end. It's fun to marry nice guys but write about bad ones!

Cynthia Reese said...

I've definitely had this experience -- I wrote a character that I thought was "typical southern husband" and my critique partner said, "This guy is a chest-thumpin', knuckle-draggin' Neanderthal!"

I went back and sent him to sensitivity training and the couple lived happily ever after. :-)

Lyra said...

One of my characters was supposed to be a good guy. As I was writing him he looks like a bad guy. And I was thinking "Hey, you're not supposed to be bad."

As I continued writing he's only seeming to be bad. So hopefully he'll turn out good in the end. Without being an ass.

WendyCinNYC said...

Stormie--I agree. Thanks for visiting!

Indigo--I had that problem for a while with my first book. Personally, I think readers are harder on unlikeable female characters than male, but that's another blog post entirely!

MeAgain--Ha! Oh no.

Cheyanne--Much better than the other way around!

Cynthia--Glad you were able to turn him into a Southern gentleman!

Lyra--This is what I'm struggling with, exactly.

Janna Leadbetter said...

Yep, I like the good boys, too. I don't think I could handle much about a bad one.

Your hubby is a doll, Wendy. And I love the way he wears that purple shirt. ;)

Melanie Hooyenga said...

He's so cute!

I don't think I have particularly bad boys in my stories, but there certainly have been some in my life. Fortunately none now.

Anonymous said...

Your husband is adorable! That is all.

Anonymous said...

Ha! The real question is what did your husband think of the character?

WendyCinNYC said...

Janna--Thanks! He can rock the purple.

Melanie--Nice to hear all the bad boys are now "former."

kellion--:) I don't think he's seen this post yet, but it should give him an ego boost.

Marissa--He hasn't read it yet! How's *that* for Freudian?

Anonymous said...

Ha! Isn't that funny? It's likely a pain in the tail to have to go peering at him from all these odd angles, but what insight you'll have.

I'm sorry for your hassle, but you're gonna be so smart when it's done!


Anonymous said...

And your husband is a nice-looking nice guy. Nice!

Allie said...

I think sometimes you need to go too far one way with a character and then figure out how to pull back in the next draft. If you hadn't written that draft with him being so very mean, you might not have gotten to some of the subtle mean things that I'm sure he does that are worth preserving.


Some of us have a unique way of endearing people who are near to us--- calling them "naughty" when we mean we really like them. It's really very intimate, and extraordinary people (count me in)love it.