I don’t like to give advice because I’m just not very good at it. I don’t like to write about writing because even though I’ve been writing since the 3rd grade, I still feel like I’m winging it. But every once in a while I like to share what I’ve learned. And since one of the things I’m pretty good at is writing bad boys (the other is writing hot sex), I think I can share what I’ve learned. Keep in mind this is what works for me. It may not work for anyone else, but I had fun with it and that’s important to me when I write—loving what I do.
My two best bad boys, Austin Sinclair and Alex Sheridan, were inspired by the same evil bastard. For Alex, I played with his dark, twisted side. I took his manipulative skill and fed it to Alex who turned it into a gift for enticing Talia.
I played ‘what if’ to write Austin. What if this same man hadn’t become an ethically challenged schemer? What if he’d chosen to walk out that posh office door instead of closing it? I think he would’ve turned into a playful heartbreaker, searching for love in all the wrong beds until he met the one girl who couldn’t say no to him.
Who’s the guy who inspired two very different bad boy heroes? Actually, he’s a villain. My all-time favorite evil bastard, Lindsey McDonald from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off, Angel.
Lindsey was a lawyer with the firm Wolfram and Hart. W&H served demonic clients, and the senior partners were demons themselves, I think. (My memory isn’t so great here. I need to ‘research’ this. Heh. ) Lindsey stood out not just because of his skill in the courtroom, but because he often went against the firm’s evil agenda. Lilah followed it to the letter and could be seen coming a mile away, but Lindsey couldn’t be trusted—by anyone. His unpredictable nature made him what is, in my opinion, the best kind of character: conflicted. (He was created by Joss Whedon, so that’s no surprise.) And he’s gorgeous. The best kind of evil is impossible to resist.
That’s why I used a villain to inspire my bad boys. They’re attractive, dangerous, completely irresistible and most of all—conflicted. Yes, I love that word. Conflict is what drives a character’s actions (or inaction). Conflict can tear a person or a couple apart. It can strengthen and bind them—right or wrong. I took my villain’s corrupted soul and sent him through hell and back, leaving just enough wickedness to make him the perfect bad boy for the woman of his dreams… whether he knew it or not.
Tip #1: Find a villain you love to hate. Star Trek’s Kahn is a good one, too, both in the original series and Into Darkness. And Loki from The Avengers. Rawr.
Tip #2: Understand his conflict. Know what he wants and what he’ll do to get it. Then decide whether or not he should. How does he react when he succeeds or fails? This one choice can change him from villain to hero.
Tip #3: Play ‘what if?’ This is the fun part. Let the possibilities play. Never throw out a bad idea because it could lead you to a great one.
Tip #4: Keep him bad. True love may heal his heart, but a good bad boy never dies. Wickedness is his nature, but that’s why we love him.
Tip #5: Enjoy!