Welcome to Saturday Spotlight. A feature hosted by Tina’s Book Reviews as a way of shining the light on Indie/Debut/Self Published authors. Each week I’ll have a guest post written by a featured author.
After a little break, I’m hoping to start participating in Spotlight Saturday again on a semi-regular basis.
Please join me in welcoming debut author Olivia Lynde to the blog today. She has a very thought provoking post about the allure of the bad boy and what makes a character likable. It really had me thinking.
A girl who has lost her voice, and a boy who carries a world of anger bottled up inside.
A girl haunted by soul-crushing guilt and regret, and a boy who knows he can't afford the weakness of feeling—not if he is to survive.
Summer and Seth meet by chance and become unlikely friends. In each other, they find a safe haven... and respite from the darkness haunting them both.
Until they are betrayed.
Can they ever regain their friendship? And if they do, can they trust each other enough to take the biggest risk of all: falling in love? Goodreads | Amazon | Smashwords
Olvia Lynde:The allure of the bad boy hero in fiction
Thank you, Karen, for inviting me to write a guest post on your blog.
I've loved books all my life. Good stories are, for me, little pockets of magic lying hidden in our very pragmatic, realistic world. And what a thrill it is to discover for the first time a book that would go on to become a favorite, and to explore its unique kind of magic!
When reading fiction, what matters most to me is the emotional connection to the characters. That is my main condition for enjoying a novel: I have to feel for the heroine and/or the hero. Because what use is it, having a well-plotted, well-written, and overall technically perfect story, when that story leaves you cold? When you couldn't care less about what happens to the hero and the heroine?
Moreover, these days I often read novels that also have a romantic thread woven into the storyline—and here it is even more crucial, for me as a reader, to like the main characters. To genuinely care about the hero and heroine's struggles and to genuinely root for their "happily ever after".
What makes a character likable, though?
I don't think there can ever be one universally valid answer to that question. We all are not the same, and whenever we read books, it is our own individual likes and dislikes and expectations that color our reading experience. Different readers will always like—and hate—different aspects, character types, story tropes etc.
Regarding characters, personally I tend to be less hard on the heroine, especially in a romantic novel. As long as she's a reasonably well-layered character, strong but still feminine, and she doesn't behave "too stupid to live", I'm inclined to sympathize with her. The hero, on the other hand, has a lot more hoops to jump through until he can earn his badge of approval. :) I want him to be strong and commanding—both physically and mentally—but never a bully. Protective of the heroine, but respectful of her own inner strength. Possessive, but not controlling.
And I don't know about other people, but I'm also undeniably a sucker for the bad boy hero.
Really, what makes the bad boy character so appealing in fiction—as long as he doesn't cross the line into compete jerk behavior (and sometimes even then, as long as he still seems redeemable)? Aside from the fact that he's usually portrayed as "tall, dark (figuratively or literally), and handsome"? Is it that untamed quality of his, the fact that he lives by no one's rules but his own? That while he's not evil, he can (and often is) ruthless in achieving his goals and in protecting what he considers his own?
In romantic fiction especially, I think that the bad boy's allure also owes in no small degree to the fact that he doesn't love easily—but when he does, his commitment is fierce, absolute. Moreover, as one very evil character (from a popular TV show that I feel compelled to watch sometimes) put it so eloquently: "...you've never felt the attraction that comes when someone who's capable of doing terrible things for some reason cares only about you?"
At any rate, from a literary standpoint—both as a reader and as a writer—I think that the bad boy makes for a very fascinating character. Therefore, in my new novel "Summer's Desire", I tried my hand at portraying my own take on this type of character.
What resulted was a hero who's been shaped by a painful past and has no illusion left about life. A hero who's reluctant to let himself care for another person, but who is nevertheless unable to stay away from the heroine. A hero who is imperfect in many different ways and who falls for a girl who is just as imperfect as he is—only for them to discover that they are perfect together.
Karen here: Thanks Olivia! I found that post so interesting! It really made me think about the way I look at characters.
I tend to be harder on the heroine and I’m really curious as to why. Shouldn’t I relate to and be more supportive of them?
I’ve kind of broken up with the bad boy hero recently and lean more towards the beta/good guy. Mostly because the rash of fictional bad boys seem truly horrible/unhealthy to me and are only swoon worthy because we are told they are hot.
But….then I read this line from Olivia’s post “In romantic fiction especially, I think that the bad boy's allure also owes in no small degree to the fact that he doesn't love easily—but when he does, his commitment is fierce, absolute.” YES! And now I remember why I love a bad boy so much. When it’s done right, there is nothing like a bad boy redeemed and fighting to prove himself worthy of the girl he loves.
What do you guys think about the bad boy? Is there a line in behavior that shouldn’t be crossed? And who are your favorite bad boys of fiction?
One that comes to mind for me is Daemon from Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout. He’s such an arrogant a**hole but I really feel like it comes from a place of loyalty and love for his family. He needs to keep them safe and putting up that wall around his heart is the way to do that. Once Katy, the girl he falls for, becomes part of that group she also receives that same loyalty and protection.