Thursday, September 1, 2016

Crafting Believable Bad Guys (and Then Redeeming Them)

My second novel is set to release in just a few weeks and while I can’t wait to tease you with the storyline, my mind is also on the bad guy—make that girl—in the story. Because while Dance Over Me has been going through my publisher’s editorial and production cycle, I’ve written the sequel featuring a different secondary character and plotted the conclusion of the series where I redeem the villain.

First, let’s set the stage—literally—because Dance Over Me takes place in a dinner theater complete with musical drama, tap dancing, and big-band trumpet playing. Danielle Lefontaine, a fledgling actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage, but a jealous cast member and numerous fruitless leads threaten to drop the curtain on her dreams and shine a spotlight on her longing for a place to belong. Meanwhile, Alex Sheridan is living his dream except for someone to share it with. When Dani dances into his life, he hopes he’s found the missing piece to his heart but fears the bright lights of a bigger stage could steal her away. 

Will the rhythm of dancing feet usher in their deepest desires or leave them stranded in the wings?

(And will you take the opportunity to use this shameless link to hop on over to Amazon and pre-order a copy now?) Dance Over Me  

The story opens with the heroine walking up onto the stage for an important audition and before the end of the first page there’s a snicker from the peanut gallery. Chapter one ends with the bombshell diva, Gloria, quirking an eyebrow at our heroine and telling Dani to try to keep up. 

Honestly, I had so much fun writing my diva character in that first draft and might have actually cackled a few times as my fingers danced across the keyboard. While coming up with two-faced criticisms and princess mannerisms. I took every Junior High mean girl tactic I had ever seen or read about or encountered in real life people and put those into Gloria’s character as she rubbed shoulders with our heroine backstage, onstage, and even back at the company apartment they shared. Boy does she ever make life miserable for my heroine and give Dani lots of opportunities to grow her own character, practice patience, and learn to stand up for herself. 

But somewhere along the way writing the story, I was reminded that villains aren’t all bad. There has to be something good about them because even if they act badly, truly evil psychopaths are rare in real life (and non-existent in inspirational romance stories). So I started asking why. Why was my diva so threatened by Dani? Why did she crave the attention at all costs? Even with her own talent and good looks and cute boyfriend and starring role and rich daddy, why did she need more? 

Once I discovered those reasons, I not only toned her behavior down during the rewrites, but I also found places in the story to weave in glimpses of her vulnerability and fear. To hint at the fact that while her dad might give her expensive things, what she wanted most was his time. That if she couldn’t get that attention from him, she’d seek a substitute through the applause of an audience and do whatever it took to stay in the spotlight. 

As I dug deeper into the life of my antagonist in order to make her more believable, I wondered what it would take for her to change her tune and that’s where the fun really began as Dani’s stand-alone story became a series. Of course, with an ego as big as Gloria’s, it would take time to craft a believable heart transformation so I decided to feature her in book three. Book two became my opportunity to start chinking away at her armor and plant the seeds of truth from the perspective of Dani’s outspoken roommate Liz. Book three will then include enough humble pie to make her face the truth about herself…and change.  But enough about where her story ends, because today is all about the obstacles she presents in Dani’s journey. 

In a nutshell, creating believable bad guys (or girls) includes three steps:

1) Draw from the real-life experiences we all face in order to trigger those memories of schoolyard cliques or workplace position-jockeying in the mind of the reader. This element of truth creates an emotional connection and makes our hero or heroine more sympathetic.

2) Dig deep to discover why the jerk acts like a jerk. What internal wound are they trying to mask? What empty place are they trying to fill? Are they even really a jerk or is that simply the perception of the main character as viewed through his/her own painful past?

3) Weave hints or clues about those reasons into the storyline. Be subtle, but make sure it’s there for savvy readers to uncover. And as a bonus, figure out a place to show the bad guy doing something good for a change.

Now it’s your turn. Get a sneak peek at the prologue and first chapter of Dance Over Me by signing up for my newsletter at (then you’ll get notified when books two and three of this series become available too!)

If you haven’t already used that shameless promotional link earlier in the post, go ahead now and pre-order Dance Over Me then send the order confirmation by email to Candee [at] to be entered into an extra drawing for an autographed copy of my stand-alone debut Catch of a Lifetime. (Please put “Preorder Contest” in the Subject line so it doesn’t get overlooked.)

Last, today I’m offering two copies of Dance Over Me (one print and one Kindle) to two lucky visitors. Tell us: Who is your favorite fictional villain and what would it take to redeem them?


  1. Great post! The first villain I thought of was Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill from Bernard Cornwell's 'Sharpe' series. He makes me grind my teeth and want to kick something! So evil!

    As to what it would take to redeem him, I'm not sure. But I think it would have to involve utter humiliation, total brokenness, and a life and death situation. And then, perhaps, Sharpe showing him mercy in a really powerful way.

    And prayer. Lots of prayer.

    It would be one humdinger of a plot, that's for sure!

  2. Right now I am re-reading SENSE AND SENSIBILITY by Jane Austen, so Willoughby is fresh in my mind. Such a cad. He would have to have a complete change in personality I think to find any redemption. In truth he probably did Marianne a favor by NOT marrying her.

  3. What a fun read and write for you Candee!

    BTW, great to have you back here.

    I agree, Willoughby is such a handsome cad. In the movie as well.

    Jane Austen has so many. Mr. Wickham in Pride & Prejudice. I'm not sure I know how to redeem them. They are so egotistical. Perhaps removing a mirror. LOL.

  4. Now, I simply must know.

    Who is Fiction Aficionado in real life?

    Who is the reviewer behind the book????


  5. Thank you for the great post Candee!

    I'll have to think about my favorite fictional villain. I'm not I ever really like the villain but sometimes the villain exists inside the hero or heroine. I'm reading a book like that right now and the true villain of the story is the hero who just can't truly believe in the innocence of the heroine because of past hurts and problems he has faced. He is just now coming around and there are only 33 pages left to read.

    I would love to be included in the giveaway. Thank you for the chance

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  6. Oops! I meant to write, "I'm not sure I ever really like the villain....

  7. Redeeming bad guys is so much fun! I always think of Darth Vader when I redeem a bad guy character... and how my son Seth (aged 4 at the time) pointed to a picture of big, dark Darth Vader after seeing The Empire Strikes Back (don't judge!!!) and saying... "But, Mom. I see some good in him."

    From the mouths of babes because Vader's redemption saved the life of his son.

    OH BE STILL MY HEART! A parent's sacrificial love (especially from an evil parent!) is not to be taken lightly.

    Candee, thank you for being here today! This is great fodder to talk about!

  8. One disclaimer... I had an editor kick my redeemed bad girl to the curb recently... because she said it wasn't working and would annoy readers.


    And so that bad girl is GONE.... And that's okay because once I looked at that particular one from a reader's perspective, we had to make adjustments.

    So the redemptive qualities don't always work, but I can totally see it in Candee's rendition!

  9. Great post, Candee. I'm not awake enough to come up with my favorite villain right now. Have a great day!

  10. Ahhh... redeeming the Villian. Must think about those villains. The first to pop to mind is Snape from the Harry Potter series, but since I haven't read the last book (yep, shocker) I may have missed that he was in process of being redeemed. Rowling seemed to be hinting at it in her previous books. But he's not my favorite Villain (although Rickman playing him in the films is brilliant).

    I must get to work though, so I will mine the depths of my foggy brain to figure out which fictional character is my favorite villain and get back later.

    Cool post, Candee!

  11. Welcome, Candee! Such balance needed to make your villain "bad enough" to serve the convincing purposes of one story but leave some wiggle room to be redeemed in the next! Dance Over Me sounds intriguing--love the cover!

  12. Great post, CANDEE! I don't spend nearly as much time thinking about my villains as I do my heroes, but maybe I should rethink that. My favorite fictional bad guy is probably Jake Spoon from Lonesome Dove. Even the good guys became emotional when they had to deal with his transgressions. Thank you for such an interesting post!

  13. Candee, I love those type of villains. The first story I every wrote I had a female bad-guy in it, but by the end of the book we begin to feel sorry for her.

    I'm struggling w/my killer-villain in my suspense wip. Just reading this post made a couple of ideas pop into my head. Thanks!

  14. FictionAficionadoBlog - As you said, redeeming that villain would be one "humdinger" of a plot, but I can just imagine the powerful transformation to be shown mercy in such a way that it rocks you to the core. I guess that's why I've had so much fun plotting this third book because there is a LOT of conflict going on in order to change Gloria's heart.

    Mary and Tina - Willoughby and Wickham are definitely egotistical cads. And perhaps Jane Austin wrote only them in as one-sided foils to advance the plot because that's exactly what Gloria was in my first draft. I could have left her that way, but dug deep instead to plant the seeds for redemption later

  15. Cindy W. - Wow. A villain inside the hero? Exactly. I think that's the point here. There's a bit of a villain inside all of our characters that needs to change and (gasp) a hero hiding inside the villain too.

    Ruthie - Darth Vader. Now there is a villain whose backstory explained why he'd sink to that level but still left plenty of room for that amazing redemption moment where he saves Luke.

    I wonder at what point George Lucas figured out the backstory. Or did he write the plot up to that first "Luke, I am your father" moment and then gasp in surprise...then frantically try to come up with a believable way for that to actually happen? Or am I the only one who gets surprised by the perfect plot twist and then have to work to justify it?

  16. Wow, who is my favorite fictional villain??? That's a tough one because I've never really given much thought to this... I guess I'm going to have to go with Marcus Green (or is it Greene?- I really just don't remember) the bad guy in one of my sister's books because he was actually pretty funny, but that's just coming off of the top of my head and I'll probably come up with a better idea later...

    In my own writing I haven't exactly gone and written any good/bad guys, or bad guys that can be redeemed. My bad guys are just bad with a capital B (we're talking Sauron evil here, people). Though I do have a lot of grey characters that need to be redeemed or come to the good side. However, that may not be the case for long because I plan on writing a book in which the bad guys are actually the heroine's family (her brother is an excellent Loki-esque figure).

    Ooohh! That's it! I like Loki, he can be my favorite fictional villain! (see? told you I would come up with something better)

    BTW I LOVE the name of your heroine in your book (that's MY name, nickname and all) please enter me for the drawing.

  17. Jackie - Thanks for stopping by! I'm headed for my caffeine soon so my brain will wake up.

    Deb H - Sometimes the villain might not get redeemed in an actual book (and I haven't read the final book either to know), but if the seeds are there, our imaginations can sometimes fill in the gaps better than the author could have.

    Glynna - It is definitely a balancing act. I wish I could say it happened on purpose, but Gloria's shift toward redeemable came accidentally during rewrites. First it was just a plan to tone her down a little so she didn't steal the show. But then I started thinking about series potential and got more deliberate in fleshing out her character before planting clues.

  18. CANDEE, good insights into the human heart. This is what I ended up doing with Roy, the villain in one of my (yet to be published) Oregon Trail stories. The hero, Pace Williams, takes to the road after he witnesses Roy rape and accidentally kill Roy's fiancée, Bernadette. I have some scenes from Roy's POV as he travels to exact retribution from Pace, after 18 years in prison for the murder. At first Roy was just plain mean and vengeful, but then I decided if I was going to have scenes in his POV, might as well humanize him a little. So I gave him a REALLY rough childhood, and had him in love with Bernadette, in his clunky way, and angry because he knows she doesn't love him and it is an arranged marriage. It made him a little more dimensional. Unfortunately Roy doesn't get his own book because he dies.
    I read a lot of books, but the fictional character that comes to mind this morning is Ben in the TV series "Lost," played with chilling confidence by Michael Emerson. Ben is not someone you want standing around your fondue pot and he's directly or indirectly responsible for a lot of krapola, but the backstory is stunning and helps you to understand him.
    I would love a print copy of your new book!
    Kathy Bailey

  19. Laura - Villains are the perfect obstacle to make our good guys get emotional. It's for their own good so they're able to change and grow. ;-) But it took be awhile into my writing journey before I began to think about my bad guys.

    Connie - Yeah! I'm glad you got a few new ideas for your current WIP. Sometimes coming at the story from a different angle (i.e. the bad guy's POV) brings a new depth to where the plot could go. Happy writing today!

    Nicky (Dani?)- There are certainly those BAD guys on the level of Sauron (love that example!), but as you said, they're often surrounded by the gray guys who could be shifted toward good. Who are minions for a reason of their own. And I love your idea where the bad guys are actually the heroine's family. That would make for some conflicted emotions toward them and that sort of internal tension immediately makes me want to read the book. Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Candee, lots to chew on here but I'm saving every brain cell I have for final edits of my synopsis so I'll keep it simple.

    Because I need my fiction to be very realistic, (I dig my heels in at suspension of disbelief), one of my pet peeves is one-dimensional bad guys. Just as in real life, very rarely are people ALL bad. It may seem that way at first but scratch beneath the surface and you discover a few decent qualities. The question is, is there enough there to want to get to know more, is it enough to motivate me to care about the past hurts that led to their hardened heart?

    However, a few good qualities and redemption are two very different things for redemption means humbling yourself and admitting you have a problem.

    Sometimes I get frustrated by my "Christian bubble". Know what I mean? My friends, my family, we're trying to live like Jesus and then you have an encounter with someone who isn't and your little bubble gets popped and you realize maybe one-dimensional villains do exist in real life?

    So, I didn't answer your question and I apologize for my rambling comment. I'm running on fumes this morning.

  21. Candee, you are always such a delight to have in Seekerville!

    Villains? I agree that you walk such a fine line to create them with believable qualities to justify their meanness/evilness, but leave just enough good on the bone to be able to redeem them. I guess if the villain isn't killed off in the book/movie, there's a hint of goodness in them, LOL!

    Yes, Darth Vadar and Snape are excellent examples!

  22. Kathy/Kaybee - Good point. It's okay if the bad guy never gets redeemed (because he's dead!). The purpose of planting the seeds of redemption in him or her is to add that layer of humanity and make them three-dimensional.

    Even if the character never does change (because they've chosen not to), at least we know the possibility was there. It all makes for richer and deeper stories and memorable reading experiences.

  23. Josee - I guess that's why I think of those good qualities as seeds of redemption that could potentially grow into something more if that person chose to change. Just like there are seeds of something ugly inside of me that keep me depending on God to change my own heart. It all depends on what we feed. But that struggle makes our stories realistic.

    Audra! - Good morning! And thanks for inviting me back to Seekerville.

    Thanks for chiming in everyone. I've got to slip out to pack a school lunch and carpool and such. I'll be back as soon as I can. Great discussion. :-)

  24. Super super super post. Another printer offer! ;)

    There's a seriously bad bad guy in my new release. Took a while to write him believably (fingers crossed) plus his character is more behind the scenes. We'll see how he is viewed when people read and comment.

    The comments above are SO TRUE. Love Candee's above "It's okay if the bad guy never gets redeemed (because he's dead!)." HA! TRUTH! Had one of those too. That character HAD to die. Took 3 books, but we made it. (Fun too. An orca ate him. I write MG from a dog's POV, y'all.)

    Your story sounds quite intriguing - love the cover!

    PS: There's a terrific community/regional (?) theater here celebrating 50 years. Cumberland County Playhouse - Crossville, TN. The performances they present are A-MA-ZING. Your premise is raising questions in my mind about all the behind the scenes machinations, though they all the regulars do seem to get along well.

  25. Hi Candee!

    It was so great to get to know you a little bit at conference. :)

    And congratulations on your coming release! The setting is so intriguing, and the story sounds like such fun.

    I love writing bad guys, and they are so much more satisfying when they have a redeemable quality that they can choose to embrace or turn their backs on. Give me a well-rounded bad guy every time - no cardboard cutouts for me.

    And no one gets eaten by an orca in my books, KC! I'm still laughing at how those middle-grade readers must love that!

  26. Good morning, Candee!

    I love the way you described yourself as cackling a few times while your fingers danced across the keyboard. I love it when a good villain comes together.

    The Broadway theme of your book sounds unique and intriguing. I tap danced my way through college, physically and metaphorically speaking, so I share a fondness for the theatre.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us today.

  27. Candee!! Love this post! I was chuckling as I read it, so cannot wait to read this story! My favorite fictional villain: The villain, in The Villain, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kirk Douglas. (It's a movie, not a book though) And I love Kirk Douglas' horse in this movie. He's not the villain, other than maybe to irritate Kirk Douglas lol. Kirk just wants the girl. Arnold is the Handsome Stranger, which is really his name in the movie. He's going to protect the girl from Kirk. Think the road runner shows. The coyote keeps trying to get the road runner, but he always escapes. Interesting post!

  28. Good morning, Candee!

    I love the way you described yourself as cackling a few times while your fingers danced across the keyboard. I love it when a good villain comes together.

    The Broadway theme of your book sounds unique and intriguing. I tap danced my way through college, physically and metaphorically speaking, so I share a fondness for the theatre.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with us today.

  29. Love this post, Candee--and it was fun spending time with you at ACFW!!

    I agree, redeeming a bad guy (or girl) can be a fun process in the course of writing a series. The one I've enjoyed most is taking Gilbert Ballard, the antagonist in When the Clouds Roll By, and bringing him back to his "good self" as the romantic lead in Whisper Goodbye.

    And why is it bad guys can be so much fun to create? Are we releasing our inner villains, letting out all the ugly stuff we keep bottled up most of the time?

  30. KC and May the K9 - LOL about the orca! I wonder how that bad guy tasted going down. :-) And I love my local theaters. We've got two dinner theaters semi-close and a few more of the "regular" kind. Every show sparks my imagination about the difference between the onstage action and the backstage drama.

    Jan - Ditto on the fun meet-ups in Nashville. I totally agree about the "no cardboard cutouts" rule. For the final draft. There tend to be a few popping up in first drafts, but that's what revisions are for.

    Yvonne - Thanks for not frowning at me when I cackled while writing. I truly enjoy getting into my characters and have been known to laugh, cry, and grit my teeth too. Tap dancing your way thorugh college sounds like a fabulous (true) story!

  31. Sally - Sometimes the "villain" is the horse or the road runner. They are in the story to irritate the main character enough to force an internal change. But raising the irritation to a new level gives our readers someone to root against and solidifies their bond with our hero or heroine. That's when a story gets that extra spark of tension. ;-)

    Myra - Another Nashville lobby lurker! Wish we'd had more time to talk in all that chaos. But you would have to point out the "Ouch!" factor that when we write what we know, it might actually expose an inner mean streak. I'd like to think that Gloria may possibly have been inspired by someone else I met...but she's in me too. Maybe that's why I needed to make her redeemable so I had hope. Hmmm. That's deep. Might need more caffeine to process that thought.

  32. I almost never redeem my bad guys. I think one reason for that is, in my experience, bad guys have deep psychological disorders and it's virtually impossible for them to change. I had a roommate once, I kid you not, sometimes I was frightened to go to sleep at night. She was truly psycho. What would it have taken to redeem her? Something truly supernatural, a move of God, and a lot of stuff crashing down on her to make her realize she had a screw loose and needed help. And that kind of thing doesn't make good fiction, because it would be too unbelievable, and as Mary discussed earlier in the week, you can't have miracles popping up. The characters have to solve their own problems and be proactive.
    I did redeem a bad guy in The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, but I had another truly evil one in the same book that did not get redeemed. But truthfully, the one I redeemed wasn't really all that bad to begin with. Sigh. Maybe I need to work on this.

  33. Redeeming bad guys. I like doing that so much!
    Sometimes I just shoot them, of course.

    I think to truly redeem a bad guy, though, you've got to set it up, just like you said, make your villain three dimensional, give him/her a REASON why they act this way. And either root the reason in some basic evil or in being driven to the place you are and not being happy with your own actions.

    Excellent post and excellent reminder, Candee.

  34. Great post, Candee!

    Villain....I have to think about that...and I need more coffee. When writing a villain, one who isn't going to have a redemptive ending, I always think of the quote " the villain is the hero of his own story." Somehow it makes them more real, or at least I hope so.

    Thanks, Audra for bringing Candee back!
    Leslie Ann

  35. Some bad guys just need a chance, some kindness, someone reaching out.
    Some need to be broken before they can turn to God.
    Some I just ...well, but I repeat myself....shoot.

  36. Melanie - There are certainly BAD guys out there and then the "bad" guys who oppose our main character's goals but aren't really all that bad after all. Redemption is a choice and unfortunately, some choose evil. By including both in your stories, you show both sides.

    Mary - Redeem them or shoot them. LOL! But the set-up is critical in order to have a believable story. And like you said, if you can't redeem them, let justice prevail. :-)

    Leslie Ann - Great quote! Villains have their own story and therefore their own journey toward change (or the choice NOT to change) even if we never put that part on the page.

  37. Oh, what Ruthy said about Darth on! An amazing villain.

    I'm having a hard time thinking of villains in the books I've read. Not sure if I just don't see them as "villains" or if I just have foggy morning brain. LOL.

    One book I was reading recently had a fantastic villain. Amber Lynn Perry's So Fair a Lady has two love interests for the heroine, and one of them is the villain...but she doesn't know he's the villain. He has a lot of redeeming qualities, yet he's still utterly despicable and believable all at the same time. She did a great job on him.

    I love redeeming the bad guys though. In my Biblical series, the bad guy in book one is the hero in book two. I did that to illustrate to readers that you can't hate someone unless you turn them into a monster in your mind. If you really see their motives, intentions and fears, then it's hard to hate them. I've had lots of readers tell me after reading book one that they hate Tyrus, and after book two, they admit they've forgiven him...and might even love the guy.

    With my WIP, I also have a villain, but I tried to give him redemptive qualities as well. He even saves the hero's life. :D

    Creating characters is one of THE MOST fun things about writing.

    Thanks for the great post.

  38. CANDEE, welcome back to Seekerville! Dance Over Me sounds like great fun!

    Thanks for your thought provoking post. One dimensional villains are a no-no, but still, even if they love their families or whatever, if the villain is evil, redemption is unlikely. Antagonist works better for me. Like Gloria in your novel, antagonists cause trouble and readers want to slap them, but when you set it up through a series, as you will do with yours, redemption is believable. It'll be fun for readers to see Gloria's gradual growth.


  39. Amber - Creating characters is absolutely fun! I love your example of a split personality type situation where the love interest appears good but is really despicable. Because don't we all have a little bit of that ability in use to put on a front in certain situations in order to mask our motives?

    Janet - Great point! There is definitely a difference between a villain and an antagonist even if they both fall under the general title of "bad guy." I certainly wanted to slap Gloria a few times though! ;-)

  40. Hi Candee!

    So good seeing you at ACFW!!! Have you regrouped? I'm still dragging...can't catch up on lost sleep. Maybe I had too much fun in Nashville! :)

    Love your post and the cover and blurb you provided. Great idea for a series. Are you a dancer? I could hear your feet tapping as I read about your story.

    Ah, and that delightful villain. I so saw her! Great insight.

    My favorite villain? Hmmm...Harlan Coben had a really bad man who did terrible things, but he showed the soft portions of his heart. The extremes made for an unforgettable character, even though I can't remember his name. :)

  41. CANDEE, slap Gloria all you want. I'm sure that'll help her change. LOL


  42. I'm with Mary on this one, Candee. Some villains hearts are so black they just can't be redeemed. The bad guy in my historical may not be a psychopath, but he's definitely a sociopath. Was he born that way, or did his daddy covering up and bailing him out of all his misdeeds through his whole life make him that way? A little bit of both probably. I had to shoot him.

    Have you ever watched the TV show THE LAST SHIP? It would take too long to explain the plot, but this season they had a great villain...a Japanese pirate who blames the Americans for killing his people by giving them a fake cure to the "Red Flu" that has wiped out much of the world. Yeah, I know. Sounds a bit fantastical, but the writers make it so believable.

    Anyway, I love the way he's redeemed and becomes an ally even though we know he and his sweet wife, who just had a baby, will eventually die. The last episode in which he decides to remain in Japan to die on his native soil after the Americans halt the looting of the Japanese National Archives is so powerful. He is an integral part of the raid in killing the "real" villain. That's probably clear as mush, but it was a real plot twist and made me almost cry. Mike and I are hooked on the show, which means it will probably be canceled. LOL

  43. Debby - I'm still dragging from Nashville and living on caffeine, but it was so worth it! I actually haven't ever tried tap dancing except in the privacy of my own home while trying to work out a scene, but love watching it and clogging and those fabulous Irish dancers whose feet somehow do something amazing all at the same time. I have done some Israeli folk dancing in a group, square dancing in school PE classes, and interpretive-ish dancing in a Passion Play so I drew on those experiences to write the dancing scenes.

    Barbara - Some villains are too black and need to be shot, but it's at least worth thinking about the alternative. ;-) Especially if you can weave it into a real plot twist like your Japanese pirate. Hope that show doesn't get cancelled because it sounds like the writers know what they're doing!

  44. Candee, very interesting post. As for fictional villains, I agree with those that mentioned Jane Austen's characters Willoughby and Wickham. (What was it with the letter W?) I am currently rereading Pride and Prejudice in a page a day calendar, where I will have finished the book by the end of the year. It is fun becoming reacquainted with it.

    In the book I am writing I have a character who I guess would be the villain who I am having fun writing. She is creating some issues between my main couple and seems to have no moral compass. I hadn't planned to do anything to redeem her as she is just a minor character but maybe in another book in the series I should.

    Please enter me in the drawing. Either print or kindle would be fine.

  45. Candee, I love the questions you asked to really get to know your bad girl. You've got me thinking about one of my stories, and a bad girl in there. I need to think her through a little more and see if I can add more depth to her on the page.

    Your books sound great! Congratulations!

  46. Excellent post, Candee. I hope you teach some classes on this subject. As I read your post, I mentally examined my own bad guys or gals to see if I had created sufficiently dimensional characters. Thanks. By the way, I've pre-ordered your book.

  47. Candee...I'm seeing you dancing across the lobby of the Omni. Actually, it's a very nice visual. Many of us are standing on the sidelines cheering! :)

    Lots of good memories from Nashville. Some real. Some not!


  48. Dana Netherton, welcome to Seekerville.

    This would make a good online class.

  49. LOL. Barbara Scott....redeem them or shoot them. Shooting is soooo much more fun!!!!

  50. I read Amber Lynn Perry's book, Amber S. I critiqued it, in fact and you are correct. She does it so well. Fooled that poor heroine.

  51. Candee, do you have a ballet background? We have lots of bun heads in my family.

  52. CANDEE, when our daughter was small, she was an active child. She wanted to take tap dance. My DH said, "Sign her up. She's got a lot of taps inside of her needing to get out." Though I'm guessing writing about tap dancing takes almost as much energy as doing it. :-)


  53. I'm back from grocery shopping. The family wants food but I would rather talk about stories all day long!

    Sandy - You don't *have* to redeem the troublemaker if you don't want to, but if you take the time to think through the possibility then you at least avoid the cardboard character scenario in the current book.

    Jeanne - I'm so glad you found a way to deepen your bad girl! Thanks for stopping by.

    Dena - Thanks for the pre-order! You made me grin at the thought someone might want me to teach a class since I could picture the kids in my chemistry class back when I was an official teacher. Villains would have been way more interesting! That said, I'll keep the teaching idea on the back burner. ;-)

  54. Debby - Dancing across the Omni lobby? That would have been a spectacle! But did you see the bride and groom arriving that one night? I think the whole lobby filled with romance writers applauded them. ;-)

    Tina - No ballet unless you count twirling in my bedroom as a child. However, my roommate in Nashville almost went pro in ballet. Her debut novel comes out next May and features a ballerina.

    Janet - Writing about tapping took energy for sure, but I listened to a soundtrack from "42nd Street" when writing those scenes. There was a whole lot of head bobbing keeping time with the tippety-tap of fingers on my keyboard. Good thing no one was watching. :-)

  55. BARBARA, I love The Last Ship!!! It was neat to see the Japanese villain returned to his "good self" and I was sorry to think of him and his wife and new baby left with no cure. Also nice to see how the Navy guys grew to respect him after he did so much to atone for how he'd mistreated them.

    Now I can't wait to find out what happens in the next episode!

  56. Sorry I missed the bride and groom.

    I did see a number of bachelorette parties with the brides-to-be! Those girls were having fun! :)

  57. Hi Candee

    Villains...well, I'm not sure but I would call a guy a civilian if he constantly and consistently doubts the heroine because of rumours. But in the end she accepted him, so I guess he was redeemable

  58. Candee, I loved tap dancing as a child. I took 3 years of it, and even did small concerts with the recreation department in a small town. I thought I was living large! Cheers

  59. CANDEE, not scenes you would want to write in a coffee shop. :-)

    I didn't see the bride and groom together but caught sight of a bride with a bustled dress heading to the elevator.


  60. Marianne - Villains come in all shapes and sizes. Some are more easily redeemed than others. Thanks for stopping by and joining the discussion.

    Marilyn - I never pictured you as a tap dancer. I might have to ask for a demonstration the next time I see you! ;-) Thanks for stopping by today.

    Seekerville, as always you are a great bunch to spend a day with. Thanks for the letting me share my newest story with you today.

  61. My favorite bad guy would probably be Lokie from Avengers. I usually want the bad guys to be redeemed, but especially family to the protagonists- I don't care how long it'll take as long as it happens. I think what it would take for him would be a sacrificial act from his brother... though Thor two looked like he was making his way up there without that.

    There's a great need for bad guys in the action adventure books I write, but try as I might, I have a hard time making them truly evil- at least according to my sister (by the way, it's Marcus Greene, and he gets redeemed after seeing his helplessness against a bigger bad guy and his Christian's friend's strength). After all, there is no one who is all-evil, or else they would be on equal standing with God, Who is all-good (not even Satan is all-evil, as he still possesses some of the virtues God gave him, like knowledge). Plus, I don't like hating characters- there are few bad guys I've actually wished dead (namely the guy in Patriot. I hated that guy's guts), so my characters need to be challenged here- but then rise above such temptations to loving their enemy (though, just today my protagonist pushed his bad guy out a window of a high tower. In his defense, the jerk had admitted to killing his wife and was trying to kill his daughter. Besides, last time he pushed the guy off a high structure, he didn't die, so it's unlikely he died this time).

    Also don't kill off my characters (like I said, that guy is a survivor when it comes to long falls- he's creepy like that), so I can't make the readers wish they were dead! (And while I have at least one pop-in bad guy who appears dead, I'd like to point out he is revived off scene and repents of his was.) Because that's why I don't kill even my bad guys- that and I don't kill anyone: otherwise how would they get redeemed? I have one bad guy converted in series,two bad guys who come to Christ in their respective short stories- and one of them is an actual psychopath who heard voices which scared the bejeebers out of me, but if you ask me, it's not too late for you until you're dead. And actually the protagonist in the story I was working on today was originally a bad guy, but he was just too loveable, I had to redeem him... even more so than I feel the urge to redeem any of my bad guys, that is.

  62. Hello Tina, all the way up the top there. Thank you for the welcome :-)

    In the real world I'm Katie - an Aussie homeschooling mum of five who doesn't really have the time to read as much as she does! - So you can see the face behind the book :-)

  63. Welcome, Katie!!!!

    Great to have you here. Visit often!

  64. CANDEE!!! It was sooooo good to see you at ACFW, my friend, and let me just say that I LOVE this post, especially since redeeming "bad guys" (or girls) is one of my favorite things to do. :)

    All of your points are excellent, but I especially like #1 and #2 because drawing from real-life experiences is critical in crafting characters, be they bad guys or good. I can't tell you how many times I've drawn from my own life experiences to deepen one of my books, especially those involving schoolyard cliques and being ostracized or wounded. And you are SO right on, because this element of truth DOES create a real emotional connection with our readers, I think.

    And digging deeper to discover why the jerk acts like a jerk is SUCH great advice! I actually did that with my "bad girl" from my first book in the Daughters of Boston series -- Charity O'Connor -- who ended up being the heroine in book 2. Man, did I have to dig deep to redeem that little vixen, but she ended up being my favorite heroine I've ever written, so at least I redeemed her for me, if not for my readers. :)

    Finally, you asked: Who is your favorite fictional villain and what would it take to redeem them?

    My favorite fictional villain was none other than Scarlett O'Hara from Gone With the Wind, and her redemption didn't come until the sequel was penned by Alexandra Ripley, so we had to wait a while for poor Scarlett to get her act together. But it was well worth it, as was the lovely cat-and-mouse romance between Scarlett and Rhett in that sequel book.

    Fun post, Candee, and I'm heading over to preorder Dance Over Me right now because you Bling gals got it going on! ;)


  65. Candee, welcome! I'm a day late but wanted to let you know I appreciated your helpful hints! I've found that my first drafts sometimes have characters ("villains" like family members who don't get along with my main characters) who are one dimensional. I always need to tone them down and give them strong motivation like you mentioned.

  66. Julie - I'm glad I circled back around today because I finally found someone else who liked the sequel to Scarlett O'Hara's story. She was larger than life so it took a huge adventure to get her to change her tune and make that final reunion so powerful. And thanks for preordering Dance Over Me. Bling certainly does have it going on!

    Missy - Thanks also for stopping by. Most of my secondary characters benefit from a second draft!