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April 1, 2019

The Anti-hero – Walking the line between good guy and bad guy

I wrote this post when King of Bad first published. But I thought I'd run it now since I've written another anti-hero. Writing a good bad guy is an interesting journey. You're constantly wondering if you have enough badness for it to be believable, with enough goodness that your readers won't abandon him/her.


The Anti-hero – Walking the line between good guy and bad guy


Creating a villain as the hero turned out to be far trickier than I imagined when I first dreamed up the idea for King of Bad.

Generally, creating the hero is easy. Some of the main character traits of a good hero are likability, relatability, believable flaws, true heart, clear mission/goal, honesty.

Now let’s define the common character traits of a good villain. Cleverness, charm, understandable anger, good back story, deceit.

The supporting villain characters in King of Bad came together easily because I could follow the good villain mold. We totally buy-in to Set’s arrogance because he has complete control over his weather abilities, and he’s god-like gorgeous. Mystic is a believable villainess first and foremost because her superpower is psychic suave. Anyone who can play with your head and your emotions – and enjoy doing it – has to be bad, right?

It was much harder to create the villain as a hero character, Jeff. Villains don’t care about other people, they don’t have friends. Rather, they form loose bonds with people whose abilities and goals align with their own and benefit them the most. Yet, you can’t very well have a main character who won’t give two shakes about anyone but himself and expect readers to take his side and route for him. So, I had to offset Jeff’s bad with some good. Maybe not a lot, but enough to make him likable. So, he had to be not-as-bad as the other kids at Super Villain Academy and he had to question their motives. 

Needless to say, when you read King of Bad, remember these kids are villains and are motivated by different morals and goals. When Oceanus pulls water from the overhead sprinklers for Jeff to freeze during battle, she isn’t doing it because she cares for Jeff and wants to help a friend. She’s doing it, because it’s fun to beat the other guys!


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