What Is It about Bad Boys?

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What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby susancshea » 04 Oct 2010, 21:43

He can be swathed in a Victorian cloak like Heathcliff, a Regency jacket like Darcy, or a short sleeved shirt with a pack of cigarettes rolled into the sleeve like James Dean, but we all know him for who he is – the quintessential bad boy. He’s the one we want to hate, or at least to shun. He woos us, then drops us, hurts our feelings, then asks for forgiveness with those appealing little boy eyes.

What is it about bad boys, anyway? Are they born knowing they can get away with a lot because they have long eyelashes? Do they figure it out in kindergarten? Sixth grade? Because they sure know it by high school.
It’s a fascinating character type, and one I had no intention of exploring in my debut mystery, MURDER IN THE ABSTRACT, which came out in late June. But I invented a back story for my protagonist, Dani O’Rourke, so she would fit into the high society world, but as a bit of an outsider: She was once married to the scion of a wealthy family, a young man with two Porsches, several hundred million dollars, and a roving eye.

Okay, that got her into the museum where she worked as a fundraiser, raising money from the social set she had traveled with during her marriage, before her ex became entranced with a synthetically endowed underwear model. But, wait! Before I knew it, her ex had wormed his way into a scene. I could have put up with that except that he charmed his way into another scene and, before I knew it, he was right in the heart of the story, threatening to weaken Dani’s resolve as she concentrated on figuring out why someone pushed an artist to his death from her office window and tried to frame her for the murder.

There were times when Dani had more resolve than I did. I mean, $450 million is nothing to sneeze at and Dickie – Richard Argetter III – was trying so hard to be helpful. I found myself liking him and making excuses for his brattiness. How could this be? I made him up. He had no right to think he could smile and push that errant bit of hair out of his eyes in my presence. Who was in charge here?

This is what characters do. They leap off the page, take their fates in their own hands, and start driving the story. Certainly, Dani’s and Dickie’s relationship at the end of the book is not what I thought it would be when I began the novel. At its best, that’s one of the great mysteries of writing fiction and also a great joy. We authors find ourselves readers of prose that’s appearing on the computer as we read. (There is revision, of course, which is a lot less fun.)
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby Steppe » 13 Oct 2010, 22:38

They mirror the ID as the great unexplored impulses that lead to adventure.
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby sierramcconnell » 22 Oct 2010, 10:41

It's cute. It's pure, unadulterated cute. And they know it, because the women fall over it when they're little. A psychological trigger goes off and it's set for life.

There's two little boys my niece hangs out with. One is a sweet little prince of a boy who takes care of her and brings her things, got her her favorite toy, and is just as quiet. And then, there's the balloon popper. He's loud, he's mean, and he's cute. He's the bad boy. You can tell it even at four.

There's just something about the laugh, the way he likes to run into the house with the Barbie Jeep (unlike the other one, who can drive around obstactles with precision skill) that apparently gives everyone a giggle and makes them watch. Everyone gives attention to the bad boy because they're the adorable little rascal, but as they grow it gets more dangerous, and by then it's too late.

He's set in his bad boy way and there's no getting him out of it. :3
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby sbs_mjc1 » 22 Oct 2010, 14:45

susancshea: Congrats on finding your novel a home!

I've never dated (or even lusted after) the "bad boy" type myself, but I suppose I'm the gender-flipped version of the bad-boy type (or at any rate, I have 2 X chromosomes), and I suppose the appeal is in the adventure. At least, that is what the people I date have said. There also seems to be an element of "figuring out what I want in life": all of my exes have either Found Their Calling or gone off the deep end immediately after dating me; my current SO quit a dead-end job and took a chance to land a dream job. So I suppose clarity is part of the appeal?

Either that, or the awesome leather jacket.
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby Susan Quinn » 22 Oct 2010, 17:25

I have three boys - the youngest has already figured out how to charm everyone. He's seven.

I'm not sure I understand the appeal of the bad boy character, but that didn't stop me from writing one either!

Congrats on your book! :)
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby Heather B » 25 Oct 2010, 14:26

Bad boys just work. Most people spend the majority of their lives trying to figure out where they stand in the world whereas the 'bad boy' seems to have it already figured out. He doesn't give a damn about societal rules (they're only there to be broken, after all) and it's this lack of inhibition that draws people to him. I mean, who wouldn't just love to break free of reform?
And let's not forget the supreme confidence. Who can resist that?
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby Mira » 29 Oct 2010, 08:38

Well, to get more serious, I picked this up somewhere in my study of psychology. It's about with whom we choose to be in a relationship. In a nutshell:

We pick someone who doesn't give us what our parents didn't give us. Then we try to make them give it to us.

I think the lure of a 'bad boy' for some women is to try to change them from someone who is fairly heartless and judgemental - and dangerous - into someone who loves and admires you, and treats you well.

I'm not into bad boys - that's not my particular lure (trust me, I have one, it's just not bad boys) - so I can't be sure, but that would be my guess.
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Re: What Is It about Bad Boys?

Postby sierramcconnell » 29 Oct 2010, 08:58

Weird. I've always thought I'd look for someone who gives me a good fight and yet someone who'll cook every now and again. In short, someone I can take care of, but who's not afraid to knock sense into me and give me a good, friendly row that might end in kisses.

Maybe I'm looking for reality then. XD Because my parents met and got married in less than a couple weeks and talk about how it was 'love at first sight' and my mom says, "I was with my boyfriend and saw him across the room and said, 'that's the man I'm going to marry'. It certainly pissed off my boyfriend". They've been together for over 30 years.

Maybe I hate romance because our family went through one heck of a rough patch.
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