Author Topic: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?  (Read 2187 times)  

Offline 5ngela

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What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« on: December 05, 2016, 08:13:41 AM »
Dear All,

This is the second time I read fiction in which you have bad guy as main character. Which one do you prefer bad guys win at the end or some guy kill or defeat the bad guy ? Do you feel cheated if you prefer bad guys win because he is main character, but defeated at the end or bad guys lose but somehow managed to get away with his bad deeds ? Please share your thoughts. Thank you all.

Offline Atunah

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2016, 08:30:49 AM »
I don't think I would like reading a book where a actual bad guy is the main character. I don't like watching shows like that either. It wouldn't matter to me if he/she got their due at the end if it means the whole book is from their POV and they are MC. Don't think I ever read a book like that.

I have to at least like some of the characters in what I read, and watch too. Otherwise I don't care. And since a MC would take up majority of a book, I don't think that would be for me.

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Offline MichelleB675

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2016, 08:36:19 AM »
I don't mind the bad guy being the main character. I find it interesting to see what makes them the way they are, but I do prefer that they get what is coming to them at the end of the book or series.

Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2016, 08:36:37 AM »
I agree with Atunah. I want to be able to at least tolerate the characters. Even better if I actually like them. I don't see how the Main Character can be a 'bad guy'. I mean, I see how it can but I definitely wouldn't want to. Those are the sort of books I'd probably drop after a few pages and mark DNF.

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Offline 5ngela

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2016, 10:28:34 AM »
Thank you all for your reply. What I mean with bad guy here is someone whom doing bad things to achieve his/her goals and clearly positioned as main character. Besides, the author try to make us like his/her by making his/her character interesting and charismatic. I can see that some people don't like bad guy to win. It is perfectly understandable. Once I read story from very famous author in which bad guy win and other people die. I really like it but other people give it low rating.

Offline MariaESchneider

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2016, 11:09:14 AM »
I"m very character driven.  The ONLY bad guy books I'll read are where the bad guy is redeemed.  Meaning, he can start out bad, but through the book, he starts to question his past and make better decisions.  In the end, he usually saves the day.  He might be embarrassed about it because he was formerly 'Not to be messed with" but he still changes.   I wouldn't read a book where the bad guys, main or not, win.  I have read one book like that because I kept thinking it was going to change, but in the end it was a huge waste of my time and I was disappointed.  The only saving grace was that about halfway through, I became suspicious enough to read the ending.  I was sooooo disappointed.  And yup, it got a one star review.  I won't read anything by that author again either, even though I've been told she has another series that is more "standard." 

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2016, 12:12:36 PM »
No country for old men - Cormac McCarthy. A brilliant work. A very very bad guy is the protagonist - there is the detective who's a good guy but it's the bad guy who holds us... I don't believe it's about bad or good guy, it's about how it's done, the complexity of the character, the tension between the baddy and the good guys he comes across... It's about the writing - not much help I'm afraid :( 
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Offline aliceblossom

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2016, 02:23:53 PM »
I think that's it's pretty interesting shift in perspective actually. I think the biggest thing that this does is that it makes you relate and empathize with the villain though.

Other than that, I have no problems with it. It's different and adds a new element and flavor to the book.
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Offline crebel

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2016, 03:03:55 PM »
I"m very character driven.  The ONLY bad guy books I'll read are where the bad guy is redeemed.  Meaning, he can start out bad, but through the book, he starts to question his past and make better decisions.  In the end, he usually saves the day.  He might be embarrassed about it because he was formerly 'Not to be messed with" but he still changes.   

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Offline The Hooded Claw

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2016, 04:43:09 PM »


Love this one! Also, see the Flashman Series.

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2016, 06:48:16 PM »
Kind of depends on genre, what I'm in the mood for, and -- most importantly -- how the author handles it and what s/he tries to say by focusing on the "bad" character. Also, there is a pretty wide range of behaviors and attitudes that might be considered "bad".

A "serious" novel trying to show how someone could be drawn into being on the wrong side of what we would normally consider "good" might be a very compelling, if perhaps depressing, story. It could even have a depressing ending, where that character's badness catches up with him/her and results in things ending up worse. However, I don't think I'd want to read such things on anything approaching a regular basis.

Then you have spoofs, satires, etc. where the main character is a bad guy, but it usually is to make fun of bad-guy tropes and such, and not at all serious in tone.

Perhaps my favorite, though, would be something more on the fence: the anti-hero who is not particularly lovable or the sort of guy you'd want your sibling to marry, but who has all sorts of conflicts that make the story interesting and in many ways more realistic than someone who is obviously the good guy. Elric of Melnibone comes to mind as one of the first anti-heroes to have success in the fantasy genre. Ultimately he probably...possibly...maybe does more good for the world than bad, but it's a great story and it's interesting seeing how he copes with several types of personal conflicts.

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Offline Joseph M. Erhardt

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2016, 06:10:25 AM »
I think having the antagonist as MC can be interesting, perhaps in a short story, but for me to slog through an entire novel of that would be wearying.

Some mysteries have chapters in the antag's POV, but if you're trying to keep the antag's identity a secret for the "big reveal," this can be difficult.

And sometimes you don't realize the MC is the bad guy until you get to the end.  One of Agatha Christie's narrators turned out, in the end, to be the killer.  This was very controversial at the time.

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Offline pdworkman

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2016, 09:51:58 AM »
I have two kinds. Where the bad guy is really a bad guy and gets caught, or just barely escapes capture at the end.

And where the bad guy is really just misunderstood and when you reach the plot twist you suddenly understand why the bad guy has done everything he has.

Actually, I guess I have at least one where the bad guy still features in later books in the series. You know he is a bad guy, but you also know what made him that way, and he is at least partially redeemed at some point.

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Offline 5ngela

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2016, 08:48:02 PM »
I have two kinds. Where the bad guy is really a bad guy and gets caught, or just barely escapes capture at the end.

And where the bad guy is really just misunderstood and when you reach the plot twist you suddenly understand why the bad guy has done everything he has.

Actually, I guess I have at least one where the bad guy still features in later books in the series. You know he is a bad guy, but you also know what made him that way, and he is at least partially redeemed at some point.

I think for the second bad guy you mean, it was more likely anti hero rather than outright bad guy.

Offline Tony Rabig

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2016, 09:59:19 PM »
And then there are the Parker novels by Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark)...
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Offline Ann in Arlington

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #15 on: December 07, 2016, 04:14:41 AM »
I think for the second bad guy you mean, it was more likely anti hero rather than outright bad guy.

That's the thing: there area anti-Heros and there are bad guys. Not exactly the same thing. :( Either way, I want my heroes more obvious. They don't have to be perfect -- I appreciate them having to struggle with some things -- but I absolutely want them to be people who mostly want to do the right thing. I want to like them. If I don't like them, and it's not pretty clear pretty quickly that there is, in fact, redeeming value and that's where the story's headed, I'm not going to finish the book.

Bottom line. The answer to your question is that every one thinks something different. :D

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #16 on: December 07, 2016, 07:02:06 AM »
Great question.

I would find it interesting if the character wasn't black and white and had his reasons. Maybe misunderstood. Depends on what he was doing that was so "bad."

A serial killer, probably not so much. Unless he was written very multidimensional and got his due in the end.

But like a thief, I don't think I'd mind.

Offline thewritescott

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2016, 08:51:33 PM »
Possibly the best audio book I ever listened to was told from the 1st person perspective of a narcissistic sociopath. It's called You by Caroline Kepnes, and is read by Santino Fontana.

It was promoted at the time by Audible, back when I had a monthly subscription. It's the kind of book I'd probably not look twice at in a bookstore. I usually lean more toward science fiction, fantasy, and the like.

It creeped me out.  It put me in the mindset of the sociopath, saw things from his perspective, and made me question my own morality. I wondered what was wrong with me. Words have power, and this book showed me that.

It's rough too. The summary describes You as an erotic psychological thriller. I definitely agree with the psychological thriller portion. If this appeals to anyone, know that there's harsh language, violence, and.... it messes with your mind. If that doesn't turn you away, I highly recommend the audio version. The voice actor truly brings the character to life.

Here's the link, and the summary.

www.audible.com/pd/Mysteries-Thrillers/You-Audiobook/B00MTTGXSI/

How far would you go for the perfect love? A young mans dark obsession with an enigmatic, gorgeous writer leads to murderous consequences in this erotic psychological thriller.
You walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesnt slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and its impossible to know if youre wearing a bra but I dont think that you are. Youre so clean that youre dirty and you murmur your first word to me - hello.
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Offline barryem

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2016, 05:40:55 AM »
I think the bad guy is the main character in a lot of books where that fact is somewhat obscured.  Serial killer novels are excellent examples of that.  There may be a good guy but the book is often about the serial killer.  And that good guy is often not all that good either.  The best examples of that are the Thomas Harris novels and the John Sandford novels.  Lucas Davenport always gets the bad guy in the end but the main character is usually the bad guy.  I don't think there's any doubt that Hannibal Lecter was the main character in Harris's books.

Some are more obvious like the Dexter novels and the Jim Thompson novels.  Thompson nearly always wrote from the bad guy's point of view.  He often died in the end and even that was from his point of view.

Anybody who thinks that Long John Silver wasn't the hero of "Treasure Island" just wasn't paying much attention. :)

And which are the good guys in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"?

Bernard Malamud wrote about characters changing for the better but they often began as bad guys.  And in the view of the surrounding culture they often became bad guys while we readers saw them becoming good guys.  Both "The Fixer" and "The Assistant" are excellent examples of this".

I just read the first Perry Mason novel and he's not someone I'd want among my friends.  I wouldn't trust him.  In later novels that probably changed.  It's been a while since I've read the others but his character in this first novel was a big surprise to me.  He was a liar, a thief and a sneak.

Is there anyone here who would like to have Mike Hammer for a buddy?

And even when we were kids reading comics we admired Buggs Bunny, that notorious carrot thief, and Uncle Scrooge, who was a real meanie. :)

The way that roadrunner harried that poor coyote was horrible to behold.

And you say you don't like bad guys as main characters!

Barry



Offline Joseph M. Erhardt

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #19 on: December 15, 2016, 10:29:26 AM »

I just read the first Perry Mason novel and he's not someone I'd want among my friends.  I wouldn't trust him.  In later novels that probably changed.  It's been a while since I've read the others but his character in this first novel was a big surprise to me.  He was a liar, a thief and a sneak.


The Case of the Velvet Claws was a shaky start for Mason, and the opening of the book was very amateurish.  By the time the third novel in the series appeared, Erle Stanley Gardner seems to have found his legs.
I do not think that The Case of the Velvet Claws would find a trad publisher today.  (As far as that goes, I don't think Moby Dick, sans some serious cutting and editing, would find a trad publisher today.)

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Offline barryem

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #20 on: December 15, 2016, 01:25:49 PM »
I agree with your opinion of the first Perry Mason but the most interesting part is that even though he was the hero of the book he wasn't a very nice or good guy at all.  And that was the start of a very long series.  I assume it was successful at the time it was written since it was followed by others.  In those days series weren't so common.

I think a lot of popular books are really about bad guys, in one way or another.  Not too long ago I re-read the first Tarzan book, which was the first book I ever read when I was about 4.  I had very little memory of it.  Tarzan was a guy who, when a lion attacked a person, found it amusing to watch.  Hardly the mark of a good guy.

As I think about this topic more and more I'm beginning to wonder if the good guy as the main character is the exception.  I agree that "bad guy" and "anti-hero" aren't the same thing but they're certainly related pretty closely and they overlap a lot.  I suspect good guys are easier to find in real life than in books.

Barry

Offline Joseph M. Erhardt

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #21 on: December 15, 2016, 01:38:05 PM »
I agree with your opinion of the first Perry Mason but the most interesting part is that even though he was the hero of the book he wasn't a very nice or good guy at all.  And that was the start of a very long series.  I assume it was successful at the time it was written since it was followed by others.  In those days series weren't so common.

I think a lot of popular books are really about bad guys, in one way or another.  Not too long ago I re-read the first Tarzan book, which was the first book I ever read when I was about 4.  I had very little memory of it.  Tarzan was a guy who, when a lion attacked a person, found it amusing to watch.  Hardly the mark of a good guy.

As I think about this topic more and more I'm beginning to wonder if the good guy as the main character is the exception.  I agree that "bad guy" and "anti-hero" aren't the same thing but they're certainly related pretty closely and they overlap a lot.  I suspect good guys are easier to find in real life than in books.

Barry

Mason never came across as unethical to me, though he would attempt to trick the authorities on occasion.  Remember, most of the PM stories were written pre-"discovery," viz., the prosecution was under no obligation to disclose to the defense what evidence it had prior to showing it in court.  It could even hide witnesses away and spring them on the defense at time of trial.

I also think that Gardner was surprised that readers became so interested in the courtroom scenes and interchanges.  I don't think TCotVC even had a courtroom scene, IIRC.  Once Gardner caught on to this, the courtroom scenes became the major reason for anyone to read a PM.

Gardner's biography, The Case of the Real Perry Mason, might still be available (or not--you might try ABEBooks if you're interested).  Here's what Amazon has:

https://www.amazon.com/Erle-Stanley-Gardner-Perry-Mason/dp/0688032826

« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 01:39:57 PM by Joseph M. Erhardt »

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Offline barryem

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #22 on: December 15, 2016, 03:02:07 PM »
Is that really true that discovery wasn't mandatory in those days?  I'd never heard that.  When did that happen?

Barry

Offline Joseph M. Erhardt

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #23 on: December 15, 2016, 03:13:46 PM »
Is that really true that discovery wasn't mandatory in those days?  I'd never heard that.  When did that happen?

Barry

Okay, that took a bit of googling.  Finally found a pdf that indicates that criminal discovery in California didn't really begin to unfold until 1957-1965:

http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2803&context=californialawreview

Civil discovery is a slightly different issue, and the civil discovery laws can be abused in that the richer party can just keep asking for more and more information and documents until the weaker party gives up.

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Offline barryem

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #24 on: December 15, 2016, 04:34:32 PM »
Thanks.  I didn't mean to make you google it for me.  It sounded like you knew about it.

Barry

Offline Joseph M. Erhardt

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #25 on: December 15, 2016, 04:37:41 PM »
Thanks.  I didn't mean to make you google it for me.  It sounded like you knew about it.

Barry

No problem.  The existence of discovery explains why, in the later PM TV movies (where Raymond Burr appears with a gray beard), Mason didn't need to resort to some of the shenanigans he used in the earlier TV series.

And an aside to the audience:

With this 100th post, I'm so glad I'm no longer Madeleine L'Engle.
The brassiere was killing me.

« Last Edit: December 15, 2016, 04:39:42 PM by Joseph M. Erhardt »

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Offline Dwight Holing

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #26 on: December 16, 2016, 03:40:09 PM »
A bad guy/bad gal as a main character works as long as the characterization and writing are both really "good." It all boils down to crafting the prose and storyline in such a way that captivates the reader and enables them to relate to the character in terms of behavior, motivation, and humanness. Just as good people can do bad, bad people can do good. Perfect heroes are rarely as interesting as flawed ones. A protagonist that must battle their own shortcomings gives a story a deeper level. This allows the writer to explore more themes, including guilt, temptation, injustice, and social mores. In my opinion, as both a writer and a reader, few things are as rewarding as when a character finds redemption through their actions.


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Offline 5ngela

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2017, 09:22:04 AM »
Thank you for everyone insight.

Offline Debbie Bennett

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2017, 10:21:10 AM »
I"m very character driven.  The ONLY bad guy books I'll read are where the bad guy is redeemed.  Meaning, he can start out bad, but through the book, he starts to question his past and make better decisions.  In the end, he usually saves the day.  He might be embarrassed about it because he was formerly 'Not to be messed with" but he still changes.   

This. I found it very hard to do myself - it took me a long time to figure out how to make a reader empathise with somebody who admits to having done a whole lot of bad stuff.













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Offline Kal241

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #29 on: January 13, 2017, 10:56:30 PM »
I play around with good and bad a lot in my own work. Gray vs. black morality is a heavy theme in my current project. I don't think it's a problem that a good guy/girl does a few bad things or has traits common in bad guys, because it makes them more interesting than flat hero characters. I also find bad guys interesting because they have different motives and perspectives, and because bad guys can sometimes be redeemed. IMO, it is villains who are the worst, and I distinguish bad guys from villains in that the villain will not be redeemed and will do things that even the bad guy might not like or agree with.

A bad guy can be the main character as long as they change or grow over time, just as good guys traditionally do. I've read books in which the protagonist is arguably not good, but they're up against good taken too far that it becomes evil, or evil that is worse than they are. These are interesting because a bad guy can usually agree with the things a villain would do, because they're both on the dark side of the spectrum, but are forced to fight the villain for some reason. This is unusual, and makes you question whether bad is as bad as people think it is.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2017, 10:59:04 PM by Kal241 »
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Offline Wolfman

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #30 on: January 31, 2017, 12:50:02 PM »
I've always disliked the flat villains that seem evil for the sake of being evil. Cartoon villains are good for cartoons only. In real life and in good literature, good villains have reasons for doing what they are doing. If their reasons are purely selfish--greed, power--then no, I would not enjoy a story from their entitled perspective. If it's for revenge, struggling to make it, saving a loved one, or something far from totally selfish, then that could make for a good story. That being said, I don't feel the need for them to triumph. I can enjoy a tragic tale and who better to be the protagonist of such a tale than a bad guy?

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #31 on: January 31, 2017, 11:07:15 PM »
A really well written "bad guy", or morally dubious protagonist, can be totally fascinating. But it's probably harder to pull off. Done poorly, it would probably just be unrelatable. Done well, it would be a protagonist that makes the reader challenge their preconceived notions about what they would do in a certain situation. A lot of great noir works like that. But of course, they probably aren't straight out bad guys. Closer to anti-heroes, or just protagonists who've gotta do what they've gotta do.

If you wanna check out a great series with a protagonist who is basically a full blown psychopath, go with The Talented Mr Ripley. There's no doubt he is morally bankrupt, psychopathic and basically irredeemable... but he's also bizarrely fascinating. He probably not a good example of what I mentioned in the previous paragraph though, because he doesn't seem to be written to make the reader question themselves. He just is a straight-out nut job.

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Offline dgrant

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2017, 06:42:11 PM »
I've very rarely seen this done well. The best one I can remember is Soon I will Be Invincible, which has alternating first-person characters including supervillain... and for him, it's a tragedy. I don't generally read tragedies, but like Othello or Breaking Bad, the guy was just so darned determined and compelling and sucked you in... even though you knew it was going to end badly, because you could see how his blind spots led him to self-sabotage.

And, the crimes were all very abstract. No blood or gore or degredation of people; it was things like starting a new ice age or other comic-book silliness "rule the world!" that didn't make him seem like the sort of person that makes you want to scrub your brain with bleach after reading.

...Not unlike, in its own way, Despicable Me. I mean, there's people who rape and murder, and then there's the guy who wants to steal the moon. I can read about or watch the guy who wants to steal the moon, and enjoy it!


Offline AjaxMinoan

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2017, 03:19:49 PM »
  I think having a villain for a  main character would be uninspiring unless the reader could sympathize with the villain on some level. I also think it could be really good if the story focused a little bit on the perspective of the people trying to stop the evil character. Then there is something for everyone. I think this very dynamic is what made Game of Thrones so popular.

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Offline Jake Parent

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #34 on: March 06, 2017, 09:36:23 AM »
It would definitely need to be done well. I think a lot of thrillers do a good job of having a bad guy parallel story, but in those cases they are usually a supporting role.

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Offline ellenoc

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2017, 12:49:04 PM »
My first instinct is to say I won't read anything like that, but after considering, it depends on your definition of "bad guy." Terrorist? Serial killer? Rapist? Creep who cons people out of their life's savings? I won't read it.

If "bad guy" means anyone who breaks rules and even laws in pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way as he sees it, I plead guilty to reading a lot of books like that. At that point, you're including a lot of mysteries and thrillers featuring both private and cop detectives, some pretty standard hero types in romances and westerns and probably other genres that I don't read.

Offline harpwriter

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #36 on: March 09, 2017, 09:56:18 AM »
I"m very character driven.  The ONLY bad guy books I'll read are where the bad guy is redeemed.  Meaning, he can start out bad, but through the book, he starts to question his past and make better decisions.  In the end, he usually saves the day.  He might be embarrassed about it because he was formerly 'Not to be messed with" but he still changes.   I wouldn't read a book where the bad guys, main or not, win.  I have read one book like that because I kept thinking it was going to change, but in the end it was a huge waste of my time and I was disappointed.  The only saving grace was that about halfway through, I became suspicious enough to read the ending.  I was sooooo disappointed.  And yup, it got a one star review.  I won't read anything by that author again either, even though I've been told she has another series that is more "standard." 

This is what I assumed would be the case for all books featuring a bad guy as a main character.  I'm not sure I've ever read a book where the MC is really...just...BAD.  And has no interest in changing.

An interesting twist--I recently read a book in which I personally thought the main character, around whom the book revolves, was not a very nice person.  She talked a lot of big ideals, criticized others and labeled them with all sorts of faults...yet in her actual one on one relationships with people, she treated people like garbage.  I got the impression the *author* however, intended her to be a "good" person--because of the high ideals she espoused.

I read another book where all the main characters started and finished as selfish, self-centered people who would do what they wanted in life regardless of the harm it did to anyone else.  Again, I don't think the *author* necessarily intended them as 'bad' people.

In my book, the MC does start out 'bad' but gradually redeems himself.  I don't think I'd like a book where the bad guy remained bad.

Offline WriterSongwriter

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #37 on: March 11, 2017, 09:03:33 AM »
I don't think I would like reading a book where a actual bad guy is the main character. I don't like watching shows like that either. It wouldn't matter to me if he/she got their due at the end if it means the whole book is from their POV and they are MC. Don't think I ever read a book like that.

I have to at least like some of the characters in what I read, and watch too. Otherwise I don't care. And since a MC would take up majority of a book, I don't think that would be for me.
Interesting thought! Because I was thinking of JR Ewing on Dallas. He was fun to watch, but maybe you're right he only is palatable because he was surrounded by lovable characters. Maybe the way Dallas did it is the way to introduce a bad character and still keep the attention of readers.

Offline barryem

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #38 on: March 11, 2017, 01:35:49 PM »
I think J R Ewing was fun to watch because he was a comic book character.  Really there was a kind of comic book aspect to most of the characters in "Dallas" although it was most prominent in J R.

That's not to say that can't work in a book.  I "Watch Me Die" by Lee Goldeberg, in which the main character was a thoroughly disgusting guy at the start of the book.  During the course of the book he grew some but never to the point that decent people would want him around.  He wasn't a bad guy so much as a scoundrel.

Anyway he was very comicbook-like among somewhat more real characters and that made the book work.  It was interesting enough but not something I'd want more of.

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Offline StephenBrennan

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #39 on: March 18, 2017, 11:57:06 AM »
As seems to be the general sentiment, I don't like bad guys who are actually bad to be the main characters/victors. Messes with my world view when the good(ish) guys don't win at the end.

My newest series falls into such a category, though I prefer to think of my protagonist as an anti-hero rather than an outright bad guy. I don't think I could write a book where the main character rubs his hands together in glee as he pushes baby carriages into the street and whatnot.

Offline RJLawrence

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2017, 07:09:39 PM »
I like the idea, but I doubt it would perform well in the mainstream. It works in movies; I mean, the protagonists in Pulp Fiction could certainly be called villainous. That said, film allows bad guys to be more charming and compelling. It might hit with a few readers, but I think it would fail to engage the average reader. Silence of the Lambs had a compelling villain, but there's also a "good" protagonist. If you have a great angle, though, who knows? In the end, the character would need to develop into a good guy, though, I think.
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Offline RJLawrence

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2017, 07:13:26 PM »
One last thought: it might work if the villain serves as an agent of good or, bare minimum, satisfaction. Unforgiven with Client Eastwood, etc. In other words, there would probably have to be a worse character in the story with whom the bad guy protagonist comes into conflict.
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Offline Stevie Collier

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #42 on: March 26, 2017, 11:31:49 AM »
I was just thinking about this! I absolutely love the idea of having an evil character as our main. Think about it, it would be kind of like Dexter! However, it would be even cooler if our main was MORE evil than Dexter. I've always wanted to read a novel behind the eyes of an evil mastermind lol.


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Offline Joseph M. Erhardt

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #43 on: March 26, 2017, 05:30:11 PM »
I've always wanted to read a novel behind the eyes of an evil mastermind lol.

If you want to write one, you need to familiarize yourself with this list:

http://www.eviloverlord.com/lists/overlord.html

:)

Don't forget to also see the lists in Cellblock A and Cellblock B.  :)

« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 05:47:31 PM by Joseph M. Erhardt »

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Offline lmroth12

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #44 on: March 28, 2017, 09:30:28 AM »
Scarlett O'Hara was arguably the bad girl of Gone With the Wind and the main character. With her tendency to manipulate people and steal men away from other women she wasn't exactly the stereotypical heroine. But she did come to regret the way she treated others and wished she could undo much of her past. I think it's precisely because she was a vixen that the book became a best seller. Here was someone you loved to hate and felt pity for her victims. And hoped that she would see the pain she inflicted on others and change her ways. 

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Offline KyleConnor

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #45 on: April 05, 2017, 04:55:57 AM »
Very interesting. It works most of the times. (Joker - Dark Knight) Maybe a wrong example but let's admit it. We all loved Joker over Batman.

Offline A.G. Richards

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #46 on: April 05, 2017, 04:59:39 AM »
Bad guys can actually be extremely compelling as central characters. I'm thinking in particular of Patricia Highsmith's Ripley (a sociopath) and Richard Stark's Parker (a pragmatic thug).
« Last Edit: April 05, 2017, 05:01:45 AM by A.G. Richards »

Offline D.P. Prior

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Re: What do you guys think about bad guy as main character ?
« Reply #47 on: June 18, 2017, 08:25:08 AM »
It's risky for the writer as not too many readers want to identify with the bad guy. That said, if the character has the charm of Mephistopheles, grey areas of morality, perhaps a degree of humor, and maybe some plausible justification for what he/she does, it can work. In some cases it's a matter of creating a sense of collusion between reader and protagonist.

In general I prefer not to read bad-guy protagonist books, although it's less of a problem in multi-POV books if one or two POV characters are "bad".
D.P. Prior was born in Eastbourne in the south of England, spent a few years in Australia, and now lives in Florida, USA. A former actor, musician, psychiatric nurse, personal trainer, and fiction editor, he now writes full-time.
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