Holding Out for a Hero

tumblr_my4jfjEJke1qze6nto1_500“Not if he was really wicked. I think I’d like it if he could be wicked, and wouldn’t.”

There is a common character trend in the  books I write, and that trend is: I always favor the bad boy over the good one. At first, that might sound a bit sketchy, but I think most of you know what I mean. The character with a tortured past, or a snarky attitude, or general bad behavior becomes the one I love the most.

I write them with more care than I do the others. I take more interest in them. frequently, they overtake the story and become the main character, all because I find them more interesting and worthwhile than the rest of the cast. It began young, too. When I was fourteen, I had Eristor. Now I have Jasper from Natural Disasters, Angel from This Mortal Coil, and even Rusty from Paper Hearts. 

A good friend told me earlier today,

“I never used to be one who went for ‘bad boys’…I liked my heroes thoroughly good. Not faultless, but definitely Knight in Shing Armor types. Then came Marvel’s Thor and Avengers and Tom Hiddleston’s MAGNIFICENT job playing Loki.  And I fell in love, not so much with LOKI, but with Tom’s portrayal of Loki….  The way he could take this embittered, jealous, out-for-world-domination character, and show the vulnerable moments….I suddenly found myself mesmerized by all the layers to the character… and musing on them.”

Then she asked me, Why do you write guys like this? What is it about you that pulls them to you? What is your opinion on ‘knights in shining armor’ versus the more ‘bad-boy’ character?

I could just say, “Because I like them better,” because that’s the truth. I do. But there are reasons for that, and so I’ll tell you.

1. Hope. One of the reasons I love to write (or read, or watch) about the ‘bad boy’ so much is because they build hope inside you. You want to see them do the right thing. The selfless thing. You want to see them rise, to become better than who they are. And so you keep turning pages, or writing them, or watching, rooting for them.

2. Redeemability. While you’re holding out hope that they’ll become better, the bad boys I like have this quality in common. They can be bad – they can have killed thousands of people, but if there’s a spark of redeemability in them, then I’ll continue to root for that spark.

3. Attitude. Bad boys just have more attitude, let’s face it. And more attitude means more sarcasm, more snark, and more humor – all of which are things I appreciate.

4. Mystery. They’re mysterious. They’re intriguing. You want to know more about them. You want to know what made them this way. You want to pull aside the curtain of their character and see what makes them tick.

5. Growth. I’m not saying I don’t love the good guys, too – those solid, sweet, white knight guys – because I do. I DO love them. But very often, they’re static. They remain solidly good through the whole story, and there isn’t a lot of personal growth going on. You can’t grow with them, because they’re already grown.

The bad-boy is my favorite kind of character because I’m holding out for a hero. I’m rooting hard for them; I want them to make the right decision. I want to see them do something selfless. I want to see them experience love. I want to see them fall and get back up. I want to see them make me proud. I want to see their human side, whether they’re an elemental or a vampire. So now you know what draws me to these characters, and what you can expect from most of my novels. (Even Mir was a sort of inverted bad-boy, in his own way. Sure, he was a completely sweet and adorable person, but he was also a vicious killer. Most people don’t even realize that until I point it out, which is always fun.)

“Somewhere after midnight
In my wildest fantasy
Somewhere just beyond my reach
There’s someone reaching back for me
Racing on the thunder and rising with the heat
It’s gonna take a superman to sweep me off my feet.”

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18 thoughts on “Holding Out for a Hero

  1. I watched Thor again on Saturday and realized how much I do like Loki, not because he’s bad, but because in general I like mentally unstable//misguided//troubled boys, even if they are the antag, and I always hope that they’ll overcome and do something good.

    And I also like writing those kinds of boys XD

  2. Hmmmm… Funny, I guess I never thought about it very deeply, but.,.. It’s true. I knew about Mir. He is a perfect example. “Redeemable”, indeed. Sometimes my brain goes deeper, to asking “why? Why they are the way they are?” and that creates some odd “benefit of the doubt” for me. It kind of reminds me of Megamind! 😀 even Sherlock Holmes has a quirky bit of this. Many do. Thanks for sharing. Fun read.

  3. yes yes yes, a thousand yeses.
    My sister teases me about always loving the bad boy….but I’m not the only one;)
    and you’ve got the song stuck in my head now.

  4. That is so funny you posted this today, because my mind has been on this very subject and I was wondering if I could turn it into a blog post.

    This is perfect! It makes me feel a lot better about myself. Because those kind of guys are absolutely my favorites in fiction, but I always felt a bit bad about that. I couldn’t quite pinpoint WHY they’re my favorite. And then you laid it out so perfectly. Hope…redeemability…yes. Exactly. I think we root for these characters because we all mess up, we all have problems, and it’s encouraging to see these messed up characters learn to overcome their problems, to become someone good. We all need that picture of hope sometimes.

    Thank you for this post. This was great.

  5. I don’t know what place in your head you go to to find these truths, my dear, but you hit the nail on the proverbial head every time! I just analyzed every little character crush I have, and every one of them line up alongside Tom Hiddleston’s Loki!
    Take Captain Hook, a.k.a. Captain Killian Jones, of Once Upon a Time, for example. You think Captain Hook = villain, right? Not this time. The Once writers have set him up with the tragic story of a lost hero who was consumed by the darkness of a terrible loss, at last presented with the chance of redemption and a very literal Savior, Emma Swan. And all us Once fans are watching with bated breath through Season 3, because Killian Jones—not Captain Hook—has seized his second chance with both hands, er, both hand and hook. And we root for him, for his second chance, and we hope that at long last, along with Emma and Snow and Charming and all our favorite heroes, he finds his happy ending.

  6. I don’t usually like this kind of character unless I see the possible redemption aspect, and then I’ll root for them and fan girl over them. Thanks for explaining why you like them.

  7. Nice post! 😀
    I have some other thoughts though.
    I love the “bad boys” too, mysterious, epic, cool, and all that awesome stuff but I also love the good ones. Hope is nice to see in a book but what happened to role-model characters? People you can read about and say “he is such a good person. I want to try and be more like him. I’m going to try harder to be a better person.” I LOVE dark mysterious “bad boys” but the books that ever really did something good to me were the ones with wonderful characters who made me want to be like them and be a better person. You say you want to grow with the messed up characters, but I guess I’m not like that. I want to look up at the good ones and be like them. And I think I’m getting off topic here…:P

    (Also, for the record, I don’t like Loki. At all. He’s funny sometimes but he’s EVIL. *prepares to get murdered by all the Loki-fans*)

    • I love having people to look up to, at the same time I love growing with other characters; so I can see where you’re coming from! And I’d argue that Loki is evil. I don’t think EVIL is the correct term for him. He does things driven by insanity and childish need, and Thor killed as many people out of pure pride. I think Loki is still redeemable. He saved Jane’s life when he didn’t have to, he loves Thor, and it’s clear he truly loved Friga. He’s just a fictional character, but I think there’s hope for him. 🙂

  8. *still reading this post* I like one! It made me think of Jack Sparrow’s reply to elizabeth when she told him he was good man would have a chance one day to prove it or something…I can’t remember. And his reply about liking to wave at them as they walk by.

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