Reader Friday: Redeeming Qualities

Let’s talk about the bad guy (or gal) in your WIP for a moment. How have you humanized him, or added depth to that character? 

17 thoughts on “Reader Friday: Redeeming Qualities

  1. He has Rheumatoid Arthritis which interferes with his method of killing his victims (strangulation). He has to find creative ways around his disfigurement. πŸ˜€ Sick, I tell you, just plain sick. Poor guy.

  2. He’s a sociopath who stole and hid a small fortune in gold, then spent 26 years in prison growing increasingly frantic that someone would find it before he could get out. He has come to think of it as his by right, and feels like he’s just defending his property.

  3. Several years ago, my bad guy’s wife suffered a brain embolism that left her in a semi-vegetative state. Several times a month, he sits at her bedside, reading to her from the classics.

  4. he fragged a lt in Vietnam saving his men from the fate the befell a different squad sent on same mission.

    he shot a wounded deer putting it out of its misery.

    as sheriff, he’s agrred to return stolen heroin to drug dealers in order to save the life of a citizen of the county.

    he’s a cross dresser that applies his make-up well

  5. Chinese General in command of invasion forces in Alaska, crushes resistance mercilessly, has no qualms about killing civilians to get the job done. But he is also very lonely since his wife died of cancer during planning for operations. His daughter is an army intel analyst who he keeps close to himself out of fear of losing her too.

    In early stages of invasion finds among prisoners a Korean woman who is a doppelganger for and shares the same last name as his dead wife (he doesn’t know she’s the resistance leader’s wife). In addition to several Chinese dialects, he speaks both English and Korean with native fluency. They therefore develop a close relationship as the war drags on.

    He turns out to be a pretty nice guy, unless you are opposed to the idea of his conquering your country.

  6. One of my fav things is to give them weird humor. In my latest YA series, my lower level bad guy was a hapless, dumb as a pile of pea gravel guy, with a mean streak. He was deathly afraid of snakes, but wore snake tattoos on his arms. And he had an obsession for Chinese food, kept a stock pile of Styrofoam containers of takeout General Tsos, dated for freshness. Weird dude, but hilarious to write.

    • I wish I could use more humor than I do, although I have written a few scenes that are funny. I’d love to have a main character with a sense of humor.

      I do have a sense of humor, or so lots of people tell me, but I have problems putting it on the page.

    • I found less is more. I’m partial to clever banter between two people with distinctive differences in their voice. Resist the urge to explain. Let it ride & hope readers find it funny. Pick your spots & only where it makes sense.

      I’ve also found tweeting one liners has helped sharpen my writing to the bare essence.

  7. My major bad guy, Jacques Borges, treats his guys like family (real family). He loves his dog. He put the daughter of the manager of his strip club through college. He took his mother on a special cruise back to her hometown in Corsica. Following his old crime buddy’s stroke, Borges visits him every day, calls him The General and kisses him on the top of his head. He is super-nice to his grownup niece, Marci. Of course he has been using her charitable foundation as a money laundry since its inception. But hey…whaddaya gonna do? He’s a regular peach and just adores linguini and clams. What’s not to like, eh?

  8. My bad guy is a pedophile and a serial killer. He gives lots of money to literary/poetry organizations, writes a haiku after every murder, attends church every Sunday, loves his wife but worries that she drinks too much, and is really afraid of losing her because she reminds him of his mother, who tried to save him from his father, but failed. He has beautiful hands, but hates his own face, even though it’s not that bad.

    I hate him! Readers like him, however, because many readers want bad guys, especially if they get their comeuppance.

  9. In one of my WsIP, the bad guy is bad enough, but at the same time, everything he’s learned about doing business in America has led him to the logical conclusion that his crimes make perfect business sense. He’s smart, charming, good-looking, and an illegal alien.

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