Character Myths; A ‘bad boy’ hero?
October 1, 2012 6 Comments
[This is a repeat blog post from over a year ago. I thought I’d see what kind of reaction I’d get from it now. – Darke ]
Is there such a thing?
At some point in the last few decades, someone came up with the idea that a ‘bad boy’ can be a hero or romantic interest to a female lead in a story. Whether this notion came from the angst-ridden, mysterious vamp persona (a.k.a Angel, Spike) or ’misunderstood’ teen (from the now defunct show, The O.C.), I don’t know, but let me say right up front (and you can argue with me if you want), but a true bad boy is NOT someone want fraternizing with your female characters.
A true bad boy is the antagonist; the person you don’t want your readers, or your female characters, fantasizing about. They’re the drug addicts, cheaters, violent people who only care about themselves and what they can get from the other characters. They’ll steal from you as soon as you turn your back, and have no remorse about it. Make no mistakes, the only person who can fall in love with a bad boy and make it work–is a bad girl. They understand each other, probably because they grew up in the same environment.
Bad boys aren’t polite to parents, peers or anyone in authority. They don’t think about ways to help your female MC out of a jam because they don‘t respect her enough to even care. They dominate and control everyone in their sphere of influence and use them to their full advantage. Does this sound like a character you want your YA character to fall in love with?
Please don’t tell me your bad boy isn’t like this; that he’s the exception to the rule, because there are no exceptions. They’re called ’bad boys’ for a reason. If your male love interest falls into the above category, then you’re not writing a bad boy character; you’re writing a wannabe, and personally, I think they’re worse. Wannabe’s are whiny, and the few bad boys wannabe’s I’ve seen are emasculated by the female character. They’re created to show either how strong she is, or for romantic interest, and I don’t know about you, but nothing pulls me from a story faster than an oddly placed romance scene with a character that is weaker than the lead.
If you’re going to have a male interest in your story, make sure he can stand on his own. Strong does not mean ’bad’ or ’tough’, it means ‘intelligent‘, ‘loyal‘, ‘trustworthy’; someone your female character can depend on should the going get rough.