Author Archives: clancy

Bad Boys and Anti-heroes: Why the Gals Love Them

buffy and spike

So, you killed someone? You have a dark past, present or future? That’s okay. You too, can still get the girl and find love!

Don’t believe me?  Let’s look at what makes a character a bad boy or anti-hero and see if we can discern why the women swoon for them. Because they are, I promise. And your flaws are part of the attraction.

First, what defines a bad boy, anti-hero or what some call Byronic Heroes. We know the bad boys – the guys you can’t bring home to meet the parents. They may wear too much leather, have a disregard/disrespect for authority (and that includes dear old dad), brood, be rebellious, or be one of those long-haired music types.  We know them by their clothes, their hair, their motorcycle, their attitude, their criminal record. And damn if they don’t draw us in with their sexy bad boy ways. Think James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club, or Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

Anti-heroes are those characters who lack conventional heroic qualities. They possess both good and bad qualities. They show us what real human nature looks like. We root for them to redeem themselves and though they are not someone we can look up to, we like them and fall for them anyway.  These guys are also the ones you may not want to bring home, but we want them despite their flaws.  Think Vin Diesel as Riddick in any of the Riddick films, Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in The Pirates of the Caribbean, or Harrison Ford as Han Solo in Star Wars.

Byronic Heroes are those who are proud, moody, cynical, vengeful, miserable and yet capable of deep emotion and strong affection.  They can be obsessive, tortured and arrogant, yet we have to believe that our love can change them.  Think Mr. Rochester (too many great actors have done this role – take your pick) from Jane Eyre, Hugh Jackman as the Wolverine from the X-Men, Laurence Olivier or Tom Hardy as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, or Gerard Butler as the Phantom in Phantom of the Opera. And let’s not forget Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Thor. They’re all just so irresistible!

So, why do we women-folk want them? I think it’s that we like a bit of the dark with our sweet.  Too much nice can get cloying. Too much bad is not healthy for us. They may be murderers after all. But, if you can find that perfect balance, or kid yourself into thinking that you have, then voilá – love.

Something caused these guys to be like they are, we reason. They had rough childhoods. Some girl tap-danced all over their heart. They were orphaned, beaten, had bad role models… whatever. But something caused it – they weren’t born bad. We have to believe that if we want to believe we can help them on their road to redemption or believe that we will be the catalyst that spurs that redemption. It’s terribly romantic.

Okay, I may sound a bit snarky on this, but really I’m not. I buy into this all the time. I love these characters. I love these guys. I love the pure optimism and hope in it all. Jane Eyre totally saves Mr. Rochester and they live a long happy life together. Yes, they go through their share of tragedy and heartache, but still… at the end, they’re together, in love and she was the reason for his redemption. What isn’t to love about that?

In Buffy the Vampire Slayer (don’t roll your eyes – that show rocked!), Spike is a villain through how many seasons? He kills humans without remorse. Kills slayers with glee and much future boasting. He’s cruel, sarcastic, and if he can mess with you in any way, he will and smile while doing it. Even at his rottenest, we like him. He’s funny, sexy, and gets away with doing all the awful things we wish we could. But he cares deeply for Drusilla (who’s a total wacko) and later, Buffy, so we know he isn’t all bad. And who of us didn’t have a thing for him the minute he showed up in Season 2, Episode 3? Later, he becomes Buffy’s sex-toy, and then friend and at the end of the series, Spike is a hero of sorts. He and Buffy aren’t always nice to one another, but ultimately they bring about change for the better in each other.

Han Solo is a mercenary. He’s selfish and self-serving. He’s a sexy space cowboy with the coolest wingman ever.  He’s a womanizer, street smart criminal, and hangs with the wrong crowds. He is not Dudley Do-Right, but under that gruff exterior beats the heart of a romantic softy who was willing to give up the love-of-his-life to his best friend when he thought that was what she wanted.  Yes, indeed. This is a guy I can fall for. With ease. And don’t friendship, a worthy cause and the love of a good woman bring about a better Han? Yes they do. Love scores again.

Characters – the moral here is that even if you’re a killer, cruel, selfish, broody, and have loads of flaws, you can be redeemed and there’s a gal out there just waiting to be your salvation! Mind you, not all of the bad boys and anti-heroes can be redeemed, but that won’t slow the women down from trying.

Writers – characters don’t have to be perfect for readers to love them, want them, want to be them and find them emotionally relatable. Flaws add depth and are more interesting. Perfect characters are boring, so explore the dark side a little and see what happens.


Time Management… Not!

do_notMy son used to try to bargain with me all the time, “I’ll do this chore. I promise. Just let me go have fun now and I’ll do it when I get back. Promise!”  Ha.  It would get put off and put off and further bargained until everyone involved had forgotten what he was supposed to do and he had done nothing but have fun.  I’ll own the bad parenting involved when I fell for it time and time again.

Writing can be like that too, “I’ll write today, just as soon as I ____.”  But, then you get caught up in the alternative action or sidetracked into another tangent or you lose all motivation you may have felt initially. It’s an easy trap to fall into as my previous compatriots have mention in their posts this month.  It’s easy to find excuses to not write and hard to be the only person cracking a whip that says, WRITE.

I’m sure it helps to have an editor/publisher/agent keeping you on task (which Quincy brings up), but what if you don’t? What if you are your own boss (as Evan mentioned) or you’re a habitual procrastinator, so habits are hard to form (as Matt talks about) or perhaps you’re better at making lists than crossing them off (as Kristin discusses) or you’re tragic at prioritization (as Jace does). In other words, what if you’re like me?

The posts I mention all have great points they discuss and I need to incorporate them all. I do. Really-really. So, I appreciate what they have to say and hopefully you found them useful too.  I do know what I need to do. It’s the doing it that’s hard.

Instead, I’m going to make some suggestions on what NOT to do and I shall endeavor to not do them myself this year.

Don’t look at your email before you write. I get sidetracked every time and can waste hours on it. So,  first write.

Don’t reward yourself BEFORE you earn it. I reward myself with movies, TV shows, video games and reading. But that reward is only a reward if I wrote first, otherwise, it’s really an excuse to not write. So, first write.

Don’t wait for a chunk of time in order to write. Even ten or fifteen minutes can be productive and it’s better than nothing.  So, just write.

Don’t wait for the mood/muse/creative spirit to strike before you write.  It will show up if you’re plugging along. Maybe not right away, but you can edit crap. You can’t edit what isn’t there. So, just write.

Don’t give up. Like Matt said in his post (linked to above), the one thing that works for everyone is to not give up. Everyone’s vision of success is different and the only person you need to satisfy is yourself. So, just write.

I wish everyone the best in achieving their goals this year, by doing and NOT doing what you need to succeed.

If anyone has some more NOT’s for the list, please share 🙂

The Tools You Use Can Change Everything

mgsloan_Stylized_ComputerYears ago when I was still in the I-Want-To-Be-A-Writer-But-I’m-Not-Writing-Yet phase, I had a crappy desktop computer. It was old, it was big, it was slow and to use it, I had to sit in a less than comfortable chair at a less than comfortable desk. I didn’t write much. Then I met someone and we began collaborating on a book together. I was inspired and writing – at last. It was not ideal and while I was at least following my dream to be a writer, it was still a struggle. The tools I had available were slowing me down.

Not too far into the process, I was visiting with my dad who lived in another state and I rarely got to see. In talking about how I was doing, I mentioned my struggle with my computer. My dad was always a techie, even when tech was barely available. He told me I should have a laptop computer. I scoffed – first, because I was not very tech savvy at the time and second, because I had no money to buy a laptop. Heck, the crappy desktop I had was a hand-me-down. So, I kept plugging away at the story I was writing and doing the best with what I had.

A few weeks later, I received a way-early Christmas present. Two large boxes arrived on my doorstep that contained a brand new laptop with all the bells and whistles and a new printer to go with it. Just remembering that day is making me cry as I type this.

My dad had invested in my dream. In my future – as a writer. He believed in me and gave me the tools to go for it. No excuses. That was such an amazing gift. I finished that book on that laptop in a big comfortable chair in my bedroom and a character was added to it that was inspired by my dad.

Since then, I’ve received many gifts of faith and support in my writing, but that first gift from my dad gave me the confidence and responsibility to believe in myself. Investments in my dream since have included attending the Superstars Writing Seminar and recently getting a newer laptop, though I’ll never part with the one my dad gave me.  My dad died several years ago, but not before he got to read that first book I ever wrote.

Your tools are important and can make all the difference in the world, but then so can one person’s belief in you.

Movie Kisses

French KissI love movies for how they make me feel, and when I desire a specific feeling, I know exactly what to watch. Not to mention, I’m enough of a movie junkie that I relate practically everything to some moment in a movie. It drives my friends and family a little nuts. But, when I’m needing to tap into some emotion to write a scene, I watch a movie or at least part of one. And, the emotion or inspiration I most often need to tap into is romance.

My guy actually said to me, “It’s just a kiss.” My response was a pretty adamant, “No.”  There are “just kisses’ and then there are KISSES. Kisses that inspire the heck out of me. Kisses that swell the heart and raise the blood pressure. Kisses I want to live and experience. Kisses I want to write about and share with my readers.

The first two are in French Kiss. I love this entire film but when push comes to shove I only need to watch the scene where Meg Ryan kisses Kevin Kline on the train (in this clip, it’s minute 0:36 – 1:08). Earlier he stashed a plant in her purse and he’s trying to get it back. She’s asleep using the purse as a pillow. He tries to weasel his hand into her purse, but she’s dreaming of her boyfriend and kisses Kline unknowingly. His reaction is the part that gets me. At first, he’s just going along with the kiss, but then he kisses her back and is fully engaged. After, he forgets about the plant, sits on the floor and just has this look like his life has been utterly changed by that kiss… and it has. It’s a pivotal moment and just thinking about that kiss now makes my little heart go thumpity-thump.

The second kiss (same clip but jump to minute 3:05) in this film is at the end during the credits when Ryan and Kline are together and working their vineyard. It’s how he kisses her that gets me this time. He has his hands gripping the back of her dress like kissing her is the difference between life and death. It’s passionate, hungry, and desperate in a good way. Guys – it’s a great way to kiss a girl. The world could use more of these kisses. Just saying.

The OutsiderThis next film, The Outsider, is lesser known and based off a book of the same name by Penelope Williamson. It’s about what happens when a widowed woman from an Amish-like group takes in a dying gunslinger and nurses him back to health. The movie is a romance about the woman and the gunslinger, and I love the movie. I loved the kiss so much I wanted to see how it was written, so I read the book. They are only minimally similar, and I didn’t really care for the book. They’re different mediums so I shouldn’t have been as disappointed as I was that the kiss wasn’t in the book… but I was.

The kiss in the movie though…. It’s Naomi Watts and Tim Daly playing the two main characters and the sexual tension starts right away. They’re fighting the attraction though, so it’s a little while in before we get their first kiss (start at minute 7:40 of this clip). She has this bonnet on with long strings for tying hanging down the front of each side and starts talking about how she hears music from the earth. As she’s talking, the way he looks at her is magic. I would love a guy to look at me like that. He runs the strings from her hat through his fingers and when they kiss, it’s that hungry, desperate feeling again. Like the other is the air they need to breath. I love that. This one is actually my first go-to kiss to feed any emotional needs.

Rock of AgesThe last movie is not obvious and it’s not that I even want to be kissed this way, because I really don’t. It’s that it reminds me that kisses and those moments of recognition – when one soul resonates with another soul – don’t have to be pretty or neat. I’m talking about the kiss between Tom Cruise and Malin Akerman. It’s towards the end of the movie when Cruise’s character has come to grips with the fact that his rocker lifestyle is empty and realizes how much he needs this particular woman. For the record, I thought Tom Cruise was amazing in his role as Stacee Jaxx. Anyway, this kiss is ridiculously sloppy and not especially sexy and yet…. You get it. You get that these people are meant to be together and this is more than a kiss. It’s a promise, an acknowledgement of what is between them. So, yeah… I love this one too.

I didn’t use the kiss from Top Gun, but that one is brilliant too. I’m always up for more great kisses to add to my list of emotional sources, so lay’em on me.