This is going to be about sex appeal, isn’t it? You have a problem with that? No? Good.
We all like sex appeal. A little bit of danger is pretty nifty, too. Doing anything your mother warned you against can be fun and the whole shebang can take place in your imagination, so you can go wild anytime you want to.
No one likes a boring Bad Guy. Being a thug just will not cut it, either. Not on its own. In the same way, no one wants some pure-as-snow Good Guy. Most people enjoy real characterization that they can identify with to whatever degree. We want to understand the good strengths of the villain just as we want to understand the weaknesses of the hero. None of us are perfect. That means we can kind of be heroes, too, because we have the same weaknesses, or at least something like them. Or you can side with the Bad Guy – it’s all good fun.
By Bad Guys, of course, I mean Guys and Gals (I don’t know if being an Aussie makes any difference, but when I say, “Hey, guys,” I’m referring to both sexes, not just males). And “he” can be interchanged with “she” as and how you want – let’s move on.
Sex appeal is there, too. A Bad Guy is more dangerous if he cuts through your defensive barriers and hooks into your emotions. If he hooks into your attraction, then you’re opened to all sorts of delicious abuse that you might be ashamed of later, but (if he’s got you) nothing is going to stop you going down that trail.
When someone tells me that they like my villains, it often comes out like a guilty secret. I love that. It means those people feel something that pulls them in an opposite direction to where they think they should go. They like someone they “shouldn’t” like. That means I’ve made my villains real enough for them to care about, then feel guilty for caring about them.
Do you realize the compliment in that? It’s a huge thing.
I like my villains to be in control of themselves. I don’t do bullies. I don’t do hatred.
Two things a writer really mustn’t get wrong: Sex and the Bad Guy. Sex with the Bad Guy might be even more important, but that’s probably the subject for another post.