Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Anti-Heroes 101: The Mysterious Bad Boy

Everybody loves a bad boy, okay...not fathers, but most women who read romance do. There's something about that elusiveness that just grabs our attention. From rogues a la Han Solo to rebels like James Dean, there are anti-heroes to challenge your heroine no matter who she is or what the story.

The Dark Quality:
Today I'd like to touch on the first kind of bad boy...the Mysterious Bad Boy. This is the guy with a secret. A man with baggage so intense, he keeps the heroine at arm's length for her own good.

Whether its a dangerous association or a frightening aspect to his own being (blood lust) it is something that will certainly put the gal in peril.

The Appeal:
This is all about the chase. This kind of guy allows only a select few into his circle and that in and of itself is a major draw. Here is a man who doesn't offer himself to just anyone and being trusted by him is very flattering. The more elusive, the better because the one who finally captures the heart of such a guarded man is truly special, right?

There are usually some traits that help us understand why she is attracted to him. These can be in the the form of an incredible talent for something beautiful...music, art, photography...this is how he communicates how he feels. Its veiled and its aching, but it is definitely deep. She gets it and it hits her like a ton of bricks.

The Set Up:
A great way to utilize this type of character is hint at this destructive threat enticingly throughout the first few chapters. A strange happenstance here...a cryptic suggestion there, and your heroine will be unable to quell her curiosity.

The Mysterious Bad Boy is a great character because his secret is usually the main conflict of the story. It is the catalyst for the inner turmoil between them...his need to keep her safe and her not understanding his aloofness. And it is the drive for the outer conflict as well; the actual physical danger to them.

A great way to amp up the tension with this type of anti-hero is to put him in opposition with a heroine that is naturally a hunter of truth. Whether its a cop, an investigative reporter, or a someone who has a past that drives this specific curiosity (think sister gone missing years ago or abandoned by father) make sure your heroine is not afraid to demand full disclosure.

The Reward:
With every bad boy story line, you need to have that moment of redemption. That scene where all the things he's done or said finally make sense.  Usually ten chapters in or so, the time you need to supply the first major disaster. 

Show the real danger here, amp up the threat, and show how much of a sacrifice he's been making to keep those he (secretly) loves safe.

Having believed for so long that he was unlovable because of this "secret" her acceptance of him will bond them through out the remaining two disasters. Be sure to make the remaining two conflicts escalate in personal and public danger.

Later, show how far will he go to protect the heroine. Will he take it to his own destruction? Will he go against everything he believes to not lose her to this danger? 

The Heart's Hope:
There has to be a reason for a perfectly sane leading lady to choose to become entangled in this situation. What is the hope of her heart? What does she truly and deeply believe will happen if she just sticks it out?

In this type of story, it is usually that only she "truly" knows him. He is an elusive prize that all women want, but only she can attain. She is the "chosen one" that he allowed into his secretive world. 

She believes that if she just weathers the catastrophic events fueling your novel, that in the end their bond will be so powerful that nothing can separate them. (Think Bella and Edward)

This is the quintessential anti-hero in almost all paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and comic book stories where there is a secret identity/secret power. 

Can you think of any that you really loved? How about some that you really didn't buy?

Until next time...Go Write!


Michael Offutt said...

This is so true. I think it may have echoes in real life. I for one am attracted to ex cons. I don't know why.

Raquel Byrnes said...

LOL! Ex-cons, huh? That White Collar dude is certainly an ex con...and tres appealing. So I totally get where you're coming from on that one. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Michael's comment made me laugh!
I think my main character qualifies - just a little bit.

Anonymous said...

Sawyer from Lost is a perfect example!

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Bad Boys are certainly attractive to the ladies. An Alpha Male with teeth but glimpses of a heart beneath the snarl.

In fiction it works great. As a former counselor, I know sadly that in life, the past is prologue. As my young hero says about his mother's apparent obsession with bad boys that always ends tragically : "Poor Mother. What else did she expect? Bad Boys are ... bad. Duh!"

Donna Hole said...

Yeah, I do love those bad boys in my fantasy novels. And in contemporary - I like the darker aspects of a hero. But, I've never been one for happily ever after either.

Funny how I've read tons of bad-boys and can't seem to think of one off the top of my head. All my books are still packed or I'd browse my book titles.

I really need to set up my library.


Crystal said...

OMG, you struck a nerve with me there!! In fact, I had to design my own Bad Boys Anonymous program to rehabilitate myself from my attraction to the Bad Boy. My fave BBs are the members of JR Wards Black Dagger Brotherhood - each of the Brothers has a dark secret, but has a heart of gold underneath all that, plus they are all wicked hot. Yummm!!

@ Mike - I'm totally with you on the ex-cons as long as they were incarcerated for something non-violent... ;-)

Raquel Byrnes said...

What's with the ex cons? Is it the tattoos...cause I totally get that.

Carol Riggs said...

Great thought-provoking post! Yep...the bad boys. Yep...probably the tattoos. Cool. LOL

Julie Musil said...

Such a great post! Yep, I love reading about bad boys. It's their secret that always keeps me turning the pages.

Alexander said...

Interesting post!! I really like this site, and hope you will write more, thanks for your information.

Trisha said...

Bad boys are hot...but only if they're not relentlessly MEAN bad boys.

Damyanti said...

Everybody loves a bad boy, okay...not fathers, but most women who read romance do.

That about sums it up :)


Join me at the Rule of Three Writers' Blogfest!

Raquel Byrnes said...

So glad you agree...bad boys are definitely a dangerous habit.

DEZMOND said...

I've never liked bad boys .... having them as the object of obsession in female books is offensive to us "good boys" :) just like bimbos are offensive to other women when they appear as main heroes. But the thing is that most actresses and female characters in books aren't bimbos (since man actually prefer good girls), while most actors and most male characters are bad boys (since, women, although they would never admit it, are more superficial in that respect than men) :)

Michael Offutt said...

Where are you Raquel? I miss your posts /hugs.

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really enjoying the template/theme of this website. It's simple,
yet effective. A lot of times it's hard to get that "perfect balance" between user friendliness and visual appearance. I must say you've done a amazing
job with this. Also, the blog loads extremely fast for me
on Chrome. Excellent Blog!
Here is my web blog : how to get rid of acne fast overnight

Anonymous said...

top 100 dating site list http://loveepicentre.com uk 100 free dating site

Anonymous said...

I do not drop many comments, but I browsed a ton of comments on "Anti-Heroes 101: The Mysterious Bad Boy".
I do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind.
Is it just me or does it give the impression like a few of these remarks
appear as if they are coming from brain dead folks?
:-P And, if you are posting on other online sites, I'd like to keep up with you. Would you make a list of every one of all your social community sites like your twitter feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?
Take a look at my web blog : easy ways to make money

Anonymous said...

tagging software http://buyoem.co.uk/product-36909/Traction-Software-Batch-Photo-Processor-2-0 medical compatible record keeping software [url=http://buyoem.co.uk/fr/product-36375/Minitab-16-1]survey software open source[/url] pandora tool battery software
[url=http://buyoem.co.uk/category-11/System-Tools]System Tools - Software Store[/url] tems software

Anonymous said...

what is u3 software http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/fr/category-6/Logiciel-de-serveur?page=9 media manager software for handheld gaming [url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/es/product-35537/Default-Folder-X-4-4-MacOSX]work order software property[/url] palm tungston software
[url=http://buyoemsoftware.co.uk/category-9/Antivirus-and-Security]Antivirus & Security - Software Store[/url] billing line medical software