Saturday, January 19, 2013

I'm Thinking About Bad Boys in Romance

So for all intents and purposes I've completed the Down With Cupid Shorts series. Even though Nicole and Sebastian still chatter in the back of my brain. I am willfully ignoring them. I'm still bitter that they turned a simple 5k story into a two novelettes that if smashed together is a 28k novella. I'm done so they’re done. So I'm looking to another short series to write for my 2013 publishing schedule. 4 shorts all surrounding that bad boy next door. Come on now, how can I say no? I love me some anti-hero.

But the problem I'm facing at the moment...what are the makings of a bad boy? He's more than the corrupter of innocents. More than a devil may care attitude about most things. I'm pondering this and I'm really, really drawing a blank, because what makes a bad boy is sort of indefinable. I know one when I see I one. Spike and Damon are the first that come to mind. Aiden from Jewels of the Sun, but he's a reformed bad boy. Both my Sebastian and Lord of Scoundrels Sebastian. Michael from Burn Notice. OMGSOPRETTY Nate from White Collar.(Let us pause for a Matt Bomer moment...Ok.)

Maybe the answer lies in looking at the good guy. When I think of the quintessential good guy the first image that pops into my head is a buff, blonde hair, blue eyed guy who helps the little old lady across the street before he tears the villain a new butt hole. At the core, the good guy does the right thing, no matter what  is thrown at them, because it's the right thing to do. They get interesting when they visit the dark side, but in the end they will do the right thing. You can depend on that.

From the beginning they just have good guy DNA.  There is never a question that they'll do the right thing, the good thing. They will lay everything they are and have upon the altar of martyrdom. These are the Superman's, Spiderman's, Angel's, Luke's from A Little Ray of Sunshine by Lani Diane Rich, Nathan Ford's from Leverage (until he embraced his dark side) of the fiction world. They will do the right thing because the wrong one shouldn't even be considered. The only time they do is when it still leads down to the Right Thing to do.

The anti-hero, the bad boy, has no such DNA. The right thing is a muscle that gets no use for most of their life so it becomes a learned skill, which quite frankly I just find much more interesting. Because, I sort of noticed, the good guy rarely has crunchy flaws. They have a weakness but not flaws. Spiderman's was totally Mary Jane, but again, she was a weakness the bad guys used over and over again. I've also noticed the way to spot the bad boy is if he does any of the following: drinks, smokes, has uninhibited sex, curses, doesn't have a polite society filter.

What I'm trying to suss out in this rambly post, what lies beneath all that?

Let's take Spike for example. Spike came on the scene with no good intentions. None. Yet, every single favorite episode I have Spike is featured in that sucker. Fool For Love. Once More With Feeling. Lies My Parents Told Me. (DB was also in that episode. The fine, chocolate, scrumptious principal who actually survived on Buffy...let's have a moment....ok.) Spike doesn't have a soul (which is the barometer for a good guy or a bad guy in Buffyverse) who is intent on killing Buffy. In one particular episode, he grabs his rifle. Goes to her house to blow her head off. When gets there, he sees her crying on the backyard porch. He's conflicted but chooses to put the rifle away, sits down, pats her on the shoulder and becomes a momentary support system.

There's just crunch to that and it appeals to me both as a viewer and a writer. Why does he do that? What is it about Buffy that brings out the good guy in him? Why does he appeal to so many people?

It's the flaws. It's the mistakes. It's that connection, that wispy belief that humanity is not perfect. Also, helps most bad boys have a built in redemption storyline. Who hasn't done something they regretted? Something that they feel they need to atone for. And there's a sort of freedom knowing you aren't perfect and don't have to be. Perfection is unattainable and you will always fall short of it. There's a total weight that can be lifted not just knowing but believing down in your bones your best IS good enough by itself.

Hell, I don't know. Maybe this is just a bigger question I must answer when I write these stories. I want to write four, but I'll settle for three. Now I just need to find out what occupations do bad boys usually have outside of hell raising.

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