Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Top Ten Bad Boy Characteristics

Since we’ve already talked in depth about villains, I’m going to take a minor step toward the side of good and talk a little bit about bad boys.

Even bad boys need a magazine
I think bad boys tend to toe the line between good and down right evil. Which is the whole reason we love them. Today they might help your grandma cross the street only because it’s The Right Thing To Do, but tomorrow they’ll bash someone’s face in simply because they questioned Bad Boy’s motives.

And I’ll be the first to admit, bad boys might be a tad cliché. Inherently, I think they’re similar. Because what makes a bad boy? Dark, moody, strong-willed, badass.

But let me say this: I DON’T CARE.

I want my bad boys moody, broody and sexy. And I want them to be badass. So a writer’s biggest challenge is to make a bad boy bad, but give him a characteristic totally unexpected.

Make him a genius. Give him a weird habit, like drinking a seaweed smoothie every morning. Maybe he does Yoga. Maybe he’s religious. Something to twist that cliché a little bit and make it crack.

With that said, let’s go over the Top Ten Things I see often in bad boys in fiction, so you can either a) use them or b) avoid them. Or z) just wing it and see what you come up with. I’m willing to give a nerdy bad boy who knits and smokes a pipe a chance.

Top Ten Bad Boy Characteristics

1. Wears a leather jacket

2. Speaks a foreign language

3. Shows little emotion

4. Has a dark past

5. Drives a classic muscle car

6. Rides a motorcycle

7. Killer abs

8. Night owl

9. Doesn’t say much

10. Powerful (either because he’s a badass magic-wielder or because he knows how to properly fistfight/use a gun)

[Side note: Wanna know which of the Top Ten apply to Sam from ALTERED? 2, 3, 4, 7, 10 --- but you can bet I would have given him a leather jacket if I could have --- they were fresh out of leather in the lab where he was ALTERED J ]

Jennifer Rush is the author of ALTERED coming Fall 2012 from Little, Brown. Check out her blog for news and updates. 


  1. Now THAT is a magazine I'd subscribe to! *drool*

    I loved this post. I think in a lot of ways the slightest possibility of being able to redeem a bad boy is a serious siren call for most girls (regardless of how unlikely it is to work.) And sometimes all it takes us glimpsing that little quirk that makes it seem possible. (And hey, why not give it a shot if you get to stare at hottness like THAT along the way!)

    I'm going to see how many of the 10 I can cram into one of my boys for you! :)

  2. Great post, Jennifer. I'm looking at 1, 4, 7, 8 and 9 for my protagonist : )

  3. I think Damon needs to learn to knit... Also, I curse you for forcing me to leave this tab open ALL DAY just so I could come back for another look periodically. <3<3 My book doesn't have a bad boy...but I'm thinking my next one might need one! ;)

  4. P --- I cannot wait to read this bad boy of yours!

    V --- \o/ for leather jackets and killer abs!

    Emily --- Could you see Damon knitting? That would be awesome. In my humble opinion, the best thing about a bad boy? Writing him. :D

  5. Love your bad boy characteristics. Yep, you've described perfectly exactly what I want in my bad boys, and you know I already share your love of Damon Salvatore ;)

  6. This is a phenomenal post! I have loved Damon Salvatore since I first laid eyes on him in Lost BUT ALSO when in the third episode of Vampire Diaries he tossed Twilight to the floor and said "this book by the way, has it all wrong."