I’m going to apologize up front to anyone who has a teenage daughter and has had it up to here with vampires (sorry). I don’t usually read or write fantasy, but there is definitely something extraordinary going on when even the local news is talking about vampires. It’s amazing! If I had any champagne, I would raise a glass to the writers who created these fiendishly handsome men and to the many millions of women young and old who love to read about them.
If you aren’t a fan, you may be asking: what exactly is there to love about a blood sucking creature from the underworld?
Well, a lot, actually. Let’s use Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight Saga character Edward Cullen as an example. I’ve read these books several times and asked for (and received—thank you Santa!) the set for Christmas. I’ll admit to being a little in love with Edward myself (and Jacob of course!!). Why? Let’s break it down…
Edward is inhumanly strong, otherworldly attractive, and impossibly rich. He has the patience of a saint though he can get very angry when those he loves are in danger. In many ways he’s a loner, even though everyone knows who he is (and many admire/desire him). He's intelligent. He’s deliciously dangerous, but wishes he wasn’t; in fact he’s trying to turn over a new leaf. He can be jealous and hard to deal with, but all his other qualities make up for it. He’s brooding and tormented (I mean being with Bella is actually painful for him). And, most importantly, he’s willing to sacrifice his own happiness for the heroine because he’s completely in love with her.
Honestly, what isn’t there to love? Leave out the blood sucking bit and he is every woman’s fantasy.
It isn’t that much different if you look at Bill Compton from Charlaine Harris’ The Southern Vampire Mysteries (HBO True Blood series). Bill is just a little bit more dangerous (ok, a lot more dangerous but that just means Sookie has that much more to reform). Now TV has also brought to life L.J. Smith’s series The Vampire Diaries in which there are not one but TWO gorgeous, tormented vampires (brothers Stephan and Damon) in love with the same woman (some women are greedy). The list goes on…
Book sales, movie tickets and TV ratings are soaring for these vamps and it isn’t because half the female population has decided anemia is cool. It’s not even because the plot lines are enthralling or the writing is original (because in some cases, they aren’t). It’s because the characters are so appealing. They are strong, flawed and interesting. More than that, Edward, Bill, and Stephan represent the ultimate bad boy. As far as bad boys go, you can’t get much better (or worse) than a vampire. You are their very weakness (or at least your blood is, but since you need that to live…); one slip and you are a mid-night snack (but what's more exciting than being a man's weakness?).
Come on, admit it. Even though you may not be a vampire fanatic you know exactly what I’m talking about. (If not picture James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Tom Cruise in Top Gun, Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing…). Every one loves the bad boy; men idolize them, women fanaticize about them.
You love them so much that you WRITE about them. So, what characteristics are essential to a bad boy? Here are a few no brainers:
- strong (not always in the supernatural sense)
- rich (sometimes stone-broke is just as attractive as long as it isn’t permanent)
And naturally the bad boy has to fall madly in love with the heroine before the end of the story…
There are a lot of resources available on archetypes. Here is just one link with some thoughts specific to bad boys: http://character-development.suite101.com/article.cfm/the_bad_boy_character_archetype
Who’s your favorite bad boy? What do you love about him? Other characteristics you would add to that list?