Bad Guys Need Love, Too

I might have mentioned it before, but I’m a reader first, and then a writer. I’ve loved reading since before I started school, and that’s never changed. I think it’s getting to live other people’s lives that makes reading so enjoyable for me. Kind of keeps Terminally Curious calmed down. 🙂

Right now I’m reading Lisa Jackson’s DEVIOUS,

Official publicity photo for Lisa Jackson

and I’m enjoying the guts out of it.

The book is set in New Orleans (yep, one of my favoritest places in the whole world to visit) and much of it is set inside a convent. Want to know why I like it so much?

  1. I’m not a Catholic, so I’m learning new things about the religion.
  2. She delves into the mystery of nuns.
  3. She has an almost-nun (novice?) who’s psychic and looks as if she’s going to fall in love with a man.

And I’m LOVING the way she writes her villain. Lisa knows Bad Guys (antagonists) need love, too! More to the point, she knows the antagonist needs to make sense–in his own head at least.

Plotting classes (at least in the romance genre) nearly always ask for a GMC (goal, motivation and conflict) for the hero, heroine and villain. Why?

Because, those of us who enjoy reading murder stories like to figure out “who done it.” We follow the clues and see if we can tell who is doing the killing, and we like to beat whoever is trying to solve it in the book.

In order to do that, the killer has to have some kind of logic, even if it’s twisted logic.

And if it is twisted, it must consistently twist in the same way.

Why? Because all killers are humans.

And while most of us might not like some things about ourselves, all humans love themselves enough to at least sustain life. Villains do, too.

Just like everyone else, they are who they are because of where they’ve been and what’s happened to them in the past.

Something in his life (usually a combination of something during childhood added to events in adulthood) made him a villain. And he’s never a villain in his own mind. He’s nearly always doing the right thing–he thinks.

Even if he know what he’s doing is wrong, he has to have a reason why he has to do it. They aren’t just mad dogs that go around killing everything they get close to.

The author can’t change the M in his GMC in the middle of the stream. We are who we are. People almost never change who they are at their core. Villains don’t, either.

As I was saying, Lisa Jackson is doing a great job of loving her bad guy. She’s letting us inside his head, so we know how his mind works. (He’s a real bad one, too.)

She’s given us a red herring or two, I think. (The best part about a red herring is when you think it is, but you aren’t really sure. And she’s a master at that!)

I’m between halfway and three-quarters finished with the book. I have my fingers crossed that she’s going to start letting us into the villain’s head a little more, because the more we understand him, the more easily we can recognize him.

And I hope the bad guy is someone we’ve met, because if she drags someone in off the street we haven’t seen before, I’m going to throw the book at the wall. And that wouldn’t be good for my Kindle. (I hope the creator of Kindles knew about the way we throw books that cheat and were smart enough to make them bounceable.)

Now I have an important question for you–anybody know where the term Red Herring originated? I sure don’t. 🙂

PS: DEVIOUS is a great read. I recommend it!

Star rating? I give it a country night sky full of stars.

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8 thoughts on “Bad Guys Need Love, Too

  1. Oh, yeah. Gotta make the villains ‘real’ people, too. Like you said, they don’t see themselves that way, and even the worst bad guy has ‘some’ redeeming qualities. At least in his own mind.

    Good post, Susan. And good reminder.

  2. A quick jaunt into wiki-land offers a viable response, though itself might be a red herring. Red herrings (because of their pungent odor due to brining and smoking–and the reason for their name by turning flesh of herrings to a red color) were used to train young hounds to scent. Once a hound can follow a red herring trail the huntsman starts using other scents, namely fox and badger to train the dogs to the creatures they want to hunt.

    • That’s right! LOL. I didn’t know the answer, but another friend of mine on facebook gave me practically the same one. Two friends who agree–you know it’s gotta be true!

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