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Creating a great bad guy is a fine line. You want them to be bad but not so bad that they become one dimensional and have nothing that the reader can identify with. One way is to identify their motivations for their actions. Everyone is a hero in their own story. Jamie Lanister from Game of Thrones is a brilliant example. It doesn’t hurt that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, the actor that plays Jamie, is very easy on the eyes. But Jamie also has a code in his mind that he follows. His actions make sense to his character. At Writer’s Digest, Magnolia Smith gives us tips for creating antagonists that readers will love to hate.
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4 Tips For Creating Bad Boys & Villains Readers Will Love to Hate
As a romantic suspense author, I enjoy creating characters (both heroes and villains) that readers love to hate. Creating characters that verge on being anti-heroes is especially satisfying. Why? It makes for interesting reading and the experience become emotional for the reader when they can’t decide whether to root for a character or wish him a fiery fictitious death in a car crash (just kidding. Sorta.)
My new series The Black Orchid focuses on sexy Alpha assassins and the women in their lives. These are patriotic, dutiful guys bursting with personal integrity… who kill for a living… plenty of room for blurred lines, eh? This series is romantic suspense, so there are still conventions to be followed. In my novel TELL ME NO LIES, the hero Kael Brady (aka the assassin with a heart of gold – my favorite romance trope) is more of traditional hero than originally planned. As previously written my editor was concerned about his psychopathic tendencies, so for the sake of being a romantic suspense he was toned down, though he still retains some of his darkness.
For example, he’s grown weary of hurting and killing people as a part of his job – even when they deserve it—but he very much enjoys hurting women in bed. And he’s finally found a woman he wants to settle down with, he’d protect her with his life, do anything to make sure she’s never hurt… but then again, he does want to hurt her (in that Fifty Shades of Grey kinda way). It’s complicated, but it makes for fun writing.
I also enjoyed writing the villain in TELL ME NO LIES, who I think some readers will love and others will hate. He has a bit of the sadist about him, but then again… so does the hero.
While writing about sexy bad boys with both good and bad qualities, I decided to compile a helpful list of tips for creating characters that readers love to hate.
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