Friday, November 18, 2011

Anti-Heroes 101: The Elusive Bad Boy

So far in my series on how to write bad boys, I've touched on, The Mysterious Bad Boy and the Bad Boy With Potential. Both posts were lots of fun to write and I encourage you to take a look.

The Dark Quality:
For a lot of men, its the chase...right? Well that is not always the case. For my third installment of this series we explore the draw of the one we just can't seem to catch; The Elusive Bad Boy.

Maybe he is outside our social strata, economic standing, or just plain not available because he doesn't realize we exist...for a lot of women, this bad boy is too hard to resist chasing.

The Appeal:
Ever hear from your friends that the guy she was dating was 'too nice' or maybe 'boring' and she just can't put her finger on why she liked him in the first place? She caught him...that's what the problem is.

You see, the Elusive Bad Boy is attractive because he is a challenge. A lot has been said about men and the hunt, but women in romance novels need a challenge too and the un-catchable man is a prize that ramps up the conflict.

The Set Up:
Famous Elusive Bad Boys are Romeo as in the star-crossed lover of Juliet. Also a man that is meant for another; this is often used in period romances where a second or third son of a noble is duty-bound to marry the woman whose family provides the best alliance despite who he 'truly loves' and desires.

So he appears unatainable, aloof, but there is something there and she knows it. And its those fleeting tastes of what could be that keep her hooked on this guy.

Take opportunities to show his inner turmoil over loyalty to his family/group and his desire for a future with the heroine.  Let her see this and understand where he's coming from and what is at stake. It must be abundantly clear why he is torn. She must have a reason to keep chasing...

The Reward
This Bad Boy is torn between all that he knows and the potential future with the heroine. She is both drawn to and frustrated by his loyalty and this drives the conflict and tension between them. 

A contemporary example would be Charlie Hunnam's character in Sons of Anarchy. Jax Teller, the heir apparent for SamCrow loves a woman that is both outside the club and a threat...this makes for awesome tension. Where do Jax's loyalties lie? How far is he willing to bend the rules to be with her? Will she be the destruction of everything he knows? Will she survive his world?

The Heart's Hope:
In the end, of course, it is through her perseverance, understanding, and equally noble behavior that finally wins him over. The reward here is that she knows what it cost to be with her and that to him, she is worth it. In the end, the chaser becomes the pursued and they finally revel in their hard-won love.

Remember that this type of romance is wrought with heartache, sacrifice, and uncertainty. This is not the type of character to go with if you're writing a romantic comedy or a sweet southern story.

The heroine must be strong-willed, self assured, and a worthy adversary for both the hero and the women within his group. Make sure that she has a special talent or ability that proves helpful because that is usually what wins him and those he loves over.

Is she a lawyer and gets them out of trouble? Is she psychic and helps them to find a lost loved one? Maybe she's a doctor and is able to attend to one of their members in secret.  She has to be valuable to both the group AND the hero in order to make choosing her a viable option.

***Crossover Potential***
The Elusive Bad Boy is often mashed up with The Mysterious Bad Boy because both have secrets that they must protect. Whether its the inner workings of the family organization, the political intrigue of the nobles, or the bloodlust of their elders...this bad boy is a rush to write!

Do you have a favorite elusive bad boy?  Any examples in media or books that really grabbed your attention?

Until next time...Go Write!