Monday, November 19, 2012

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, Whatcha Gonna Do?

Tip of the Day: I have a tumblr now, full of funny pictures. It's called YA from New New York.

I've gotten some feedback that the Bad Boy in my manuscript just isn't bad enough. He's too nice, not rough enough around the edges. So I spent some time thinking about my favorite bad boys and why I love them so.

1. Daryl Dixon/The Walking Dead
What's awesome about Daryl: Cool competency with a crossbow and sculpted arm muscles to match.
Weakness: Kids. He's got a soft spot for them.
What makes him a bad boy: Talk about rough. Daryl loses his temper, calls it like he sees them, resorts to violence and isolation as his fallback positions, and suffered from his alcoholic, neglectful parents.
How he sees himself: low self-esteem, a  loner, has trouble living up to his brother's expectations, thinks others see him as a no-account redneck.

Contrasted by: Big brother Merle, who raised Daryl. Merle has no redeeming characteristics but the same incredible competency at survival. Merle is BAD. He cut his own hand off, cauterized it, and replaced it with a bayonet. Merle's only saving grace is that he's on a search to find his little bro. But you know it will be showdown time when Merle and Daryl meet. Because there's only one person who can stop Merle from his sadism ... his brother. Dum dum dum! And so the fandom waits with eager anticipation for the Daryl/Merle meetup.
Daryl is the only one who can save: Glenn and Maggie, everybody's favorite characters, from Merle.

2. Sandor "The Hound" Clegane/Game of Thrones
What's awesome about Sandor: He's never a hypocrite and you can't intimidate him. Cool competency with a sword and sculpted arm muscles to match.
Weakness: Fire. Sansa Stark.
What makes him a bad boy: The first significant thing he does in the books is kill an innocent boy at his Prince's command. He's rude, he curses, he drinks, and his childhood makes Daryl's look like a picnic in the playground.
How he sees himself: Horribly scarred by a fire caused by his brother, he thinks other people see him as a scary freak only good for fighting, and he's internalized that.
Contrasted by: His older brother! Well, there's a pattern. But while Daryl has some good memories of Merle and was at least able to depend on him when they were kids, Gregor Clegane has always been an abusive ass. When Gregor came of age, their parents died in "mysterious circumstances." Gregor ruled the Clegane household with fear and fire, just as he now rampages the countryside. Only Sandor can match Gregor's strength; only the Hound can stop his brother. Cue inevitable showdown music please.
The Hound is the only one who can save: Oh, I can't give you spoilers on this one. But it will be characters we care about.

So what do I need in my book? An older brother? I don't have room for another character. But I need my bad boy to be outspoken (can work on more), have a contrast with someone less likeable (needed), be the only one to save  my main character (check), be competent at fighting (check), have self-esteem issues (hmmm), and be disliked by my other characters (hmmm some more).

Anything else to add to the Bad Boy checklist?

 -- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages


DeenaML said...

I love this post! My hubby calls Deryl "The Redneck Legalos" with his bow.

Emily Marshall said...

I don't know either of those characters, but I LOVE bad boys, so I might have to check out your recommendations. I love all your suggestions for making them bad. They have to be just bad enough but have a soft spot for something.

Emily Marshall said...

Oh also I think the main character needs to dislike them at first too (or at least a good portion of their personality)--otherwise they won't seem bad enough in book format.