the good, the bad, and the ugly about the writing life

Villain 101: Making the Bad Girl Likeable–Part 3

Photo courtesy of Marin and www.digitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of Marin and http://www.digitalphotos.net

This week’s topic is bad girls and guys and how to create them in your fiction. Earlier, I talked about my favorite reference for writing villains (see Villains–Part 1) and shared my BEFORE chapter with my villain Simone (see Villains–Part 2).

So, here’s the makeover that Simone needs to make her just a tiny bit more sympathetic to my main character, Paulette, and to readers.

Mostly, I just added to the end of the BEFORE chapter with a piece of business about a photo.  See what you think.

Here’s the set-up. Paulette is a temp in a brokerage firm. She’s 25 and overweight with a bad attitude. Simone is the owner of her temp agency. Barney is Paulette’s boss at the brokerage firm and the head broker.

AFTER:

Read my earlier BEFORE chapter down to the last paragraph.

 

With that, Barney winked at me.  Despite Barney’s double-entendre ending, I was delighted with the news and thrilled that Simone was thwarted.  For once, things were looking up.

ADDITION:

 

“Paulette can call you if she has questions, right?”

Barney looked at me. “Do you have Simone’s number?”

Even my cheap cell phone had speed dial and Simone was #1, but I was enjoying the spectacle of Simone dancing to Barney’s tune way too much to put an end to her misery.

“I don’t think so,” I said. “Could I have a card?”

I didn’t smirk, but I was dangerously close. I did not dare look Simone in the eyes. Instead, I started at her lizard green stiletto heels. They may have made her buns look perky, but I still didn’t get how she could walk in them.

A disgusted sigh escaped Simone before she faked a little cough as if she was clearing her throat. She grabbed the caution yellow wallet from the top of her trendy gold bag and flipped the clip open a little too forcefully.

 The wallet sprang open and a small square photo fell to the floor right at my feet. I leaned over to pick it up. We were the only ones on that side of the desk, so Barney couldn’t see it.

Simone moved more quickly than I would have expected given that she’d dropped a photo not a Benjamin. I got there first, nabbed the photo in thumb and forefinger and took a peek.

The image was a little blurry; it was an old Polaroid. A thin woman in an apron had her arm around a pudgy young woman with thick glasses and a heart-shaped locket around her neck.

The locket looked familiar. Simone wore something similar on a chain under her blouse where she thought nobody could see it. Simone’s was tarnished and featured a large engraved S on the front in script.

I had noticed it in the first place because it was so sweet compared to her usual style. She was all about blazing color and chunky jewelry. The rock on her wedding finger was real. The locket didn’t fit with the hard-shelled woman I knew.

“You ladies wrestling over there?”

Barney’s jocular question brought me back to an annoyed Simone who had her mitts on the other half of the picture.

“Give it” she hissed under her breath.

I grinned and leaned toward her, so she’d think I was giving in. She stopped yanking immediately, and I was able to pull the photo away from her and stand up with it.

“Check out this picture of Simone,” I said as I handed the picture across the desk to Barney.

“What?” he said.  He took the photo and seemed to study it.

“This must be your Mama,” he said.

Simone sat back up in her chair with a barely disguised snarl.

Barney chuckled. “This little filly must be you.”

Simone stood up and moved to Barney’s side with a fake smile plastered to her face.

“Years and years ago,” she said. She held her hand out for the photo and Barney obliged her.

She sat back down, stuffed the photo into her wallet, and handed me her card.

When I tried to take it, she wouldn’t let go. I looked into her eyes and read the warning clearly. This wasn’t over and retribution was coming.

Really? Retribution because Barney found out she’d been a fat kid or because I had?

Is Simone more sympathetic? Does her thin perfection make more sense now?

More than that, how do you make your bad guys and girls more likable?

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