Character Series Part 2: “The Bad Boys” by Sara Ella

Today I am pleased to say that I have guest blogger and writer friend, Sara Ella here to talk about villainous bad boys and why we love to hate, hate to love them in part 2 of our Character Series!


Who doesn’t want to be rescued? We all long for the hero to swoop in and save the day. For good to conquer evil. For love to prevail. Boy meets girl. They fall in love and live happily ever after. The end.

Well, I’ve got news for you. That plot line just plain stinks. Odd that a lover of fairy tales would say this, don’t you think? I mean, seriously, give me dragon slayers, all-powerful kisses, and fairy dust any day. I cry at the end of movies like The Little Mermaid (“I love you, Daddy”) and Beauty and the Beast (“It is you!”). I get all tingly inside when I get within a mile radius of Disneyland. I mean, I used to work there for goodness sake.  So what’s the problem?

No one ever gives enough credit to the bad guy, or girl. I mean what little princess ever says, “Mommy, please can we go see the Evil Queen…plleeaaseeeee!” as she tugs on your arm at the “Happiest Place on Earth”? Truth be told, most kiddos are terrified of villains, and rightly so. I can tell you from personal experience as a former Disney entertainment cast member that no one wants to shake hands with the drunk cat from Pinocchio.

But guess what? As much as we hate him, we need him. Bad boys create conflict (insert sinister laugh here). We would never say it to his face, but Mr. Unhappily Ever After is the single most important layer in the Fairy Tale Ending cake. Without him there’s no story. Without him, just kiss intrigue and suspense goodbye. Bad boys make us care. And if I’m going to read your story or watch your movie, I absolutely have to care. Otherwise you’ve lost me.

Let’s take a look at both sides of this coin, shall we?

Divergent the book. I know, I know, say what you want about the series as a whole, you know you couldn’t put the first book down. I couldn’t. Here we have a heroine with a mind of her own. A girl who doesn’t swoon at first sight. Tris knows what she wants. She’s not weak-willed or weak-minded. Yada, yada, yada, I thought we were talking about bad guys here?


So the obvious bad boy…er woman, is Janine or on a larger scale Erudite leadership. But I want to go smaller, deeper. So let’s talk about Peter.

Here’s a bad boy I loathed….and I mean I wanted to punch him right through the pages of Divergent. He was awful, rude….and then there’s that scene where he….oh, you haven’t read it? Sorry. I won’t spoil it for you.

What I’m saying is Peter was a great bad boy. He caused problems, conflict, tension. I never stopped fearing he was going to sabotage Tris, or worse. Props, Veronica Roth. Job well done.

And then there’s Divergent the movie. Don’t misread me, I loved the film. Would see it again. The film made me want to give books two and three another chance. But there was one very minor element missing in the movie.

Where did Peter go?

If you’ve read the book AND seen the movie, you know what I’m sayin’. Peter, this dude I totally hated, was lost on the screen. They turned him into this big goofy, kind of annoying but not too much of a problem, bad guy. They totally butchered that scene where they’re about to throw Tris…..of, right, you haven’t read it. Oh, never mind. I don’t care. Spoiler alert…..

In the book you have this highly intense scene where the peak of loathing for Peter scales the walls of the Dauntless compound. I mean I HATED, absolutely detested him, in this scene. Then in the movie it was like *shoulder shrug*. Thanks, Hollywood. I officially stopped caring.

In order to love the hero/heroine we need a bad guy who is the polar opposite. The more I hate him, the more I root for the good ones. The worse you make him, the more I want to see him rot. If you make him so awful and then redeem him believably, even better. There’s a twist in the plot I didn’t expect. Enter, Mr. Gold/ Rumplestiltskin.

I love me some Once Upon a Time. It’s like ABC took a survey of people exactly like me, liking all the things I like, and then made a show out of it. The real world and fantasy world clash. Twists on classic fairy tales. This show was made for Sara Ella.

I remember when Once just started, how much I hated Rumple, as he is affectionately known to Belle. This guy was the epitome of villains. Grotesque, black-hearted, and vile to the core. Fast forward to season three. Now he’s my favorite character. Why?

Because he’s the redeemed bad boy. He’s not all good. He’s still him. Mr. Gold still has all those traits about him that make him the perfect bad boy, but he’s also human. He’s a living breathing character who has the ability to change his mind….and his heart. More than anything, I wait for the next episode of Once so I can see what’s going to happen to him. Him…and Hook.


See, what’d I tell you? I love my bad boys. Come on, Emma! What is your deal? Just kiss that eyeliner wearing pirate already. You know you want to.

Here’s another bad boy I love to hate…hate to love? What’s so great about this show is the backstory woven throughout. What made these guys villains in the first place? Were they always that way? Inquiring minds want to know and oh boy, does Once tell me.

I get just enough to empathize with the character, but not too much where I still don’t hate them. No matter what you do with your bad boy, you’ve got to leave a little bit of loathing there, simmering, festering. We have to know there’s always a chance he’s going to make the wrong choice. Otherwise, I’m moving on to the next source of conflict.

So, don’t forget, if you’re writing a book like me, you need a bad boy who….

1. Creates conflict/tension

2. We hate enough to care about the hero/heroine. The more we hate him, the more we love them.

3. Is redeemable, but doesn’t lose the qualities that make him who he is. Flaws.

What about you? Who are your favorite bad boys and what is so great…I mean bad, about them?

Thanks for having me on the blog today, Neysa. Happy reading!

Sara Ella

Happily Ever After is Never Far Away | Psalm 45


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