Thinking about Bad Guys

Since I write romantic suspense, I spend a lot of time thinking about bad guys.

 Not the mustache-twirling, two-dimensional villains of the Dudley Dooright era, but the kind of villains the hero and reader will scarcely suspect. The kind of villain whose actions can be utterly justified in his own mind. A there-but-by-the-grace-of-God-goeth-I kind of villain.

Isn’t that scarier?

Well, okay, a psychopath who will attack a room full of movie-goers with no apparent remorse is scarier, but I don’t write thrillers so stay with me here.

Isn’t it a little disturbing, upon the revelation of the true villain at the end of a mystery, to realize that you scarcely suspected him or her?

Or worse that you empathized with him! 

A well-characterized villain, in my opinion, can totally justify his actions in his own mind. 

We don’t blame the mother who, upon finding her child under attack, brutally attacks the attacker. Right? It’s when she plots ways to make him pay, after the fact, that she begins to turn the corner.

Your Turn: What kind of scenario might spur you to do something unimaginable?

Images courtesy of Victor Habbick and photostock /


  • You make me think too hard first thing in the morning…especially on a Monday? I’m not sure I can answer your question just yet but Simba wants to chime in.

    He just hates it when the cat next door sits on the top of the fence just out of reach and then casually starts washing his paws like he’s some kind of ladeda feline royalty.

    It’s bad enough that the cat walks through Simba’s domain, but to flaunt it at him — well that makes Simba turn from mild mannered couch potato to rabid canine alpha bent on revenge. I just know he’s plotting horrible villianous actions against the cat. And he justifies every one of them!

  • Okay, a hardy round of weeding and my thoughts turned villianous. Dare I share?

    Here’s the scenario — I worked for a boss who well…didn’t…but she was always on hand to accept the laurels once a job was completed. She also sabatoged anyone she felt was a threat and was blatantly prejudiced — all sugar-coated in such a genteel manner that upper management had no clue. Or, if they did, they didn’t care.

    It drove me nuts for four years. Even my friends started commenting on how I wasn’t my usual chipper self. But day after day after day of doing the grunt work so that herself could get all the credit sapped me of nearly all my good will. Even more so when the centre I worked at closed and she got promoted to a custom-made job they created just for her because she wasn’t ready to retire and I lost a chunk of salary and ended up back in the trenches.

    The whole time I worked for her I struggled with not retaliating in kind — or at least exposing her for what she was. Man, did I pray! But I could so justify every bit of plotting I contrived. Bwahhhahhhahha — I am so evil. But I didn’t act on anything and sometimes honestly regret it. LOL. Not exactly cloak and dagger stuff but I often think that kind of personality and setting could lend itself to all kinds of great suspense plots.

    There’s my true confession and I thought I’d wrestled that resentment down but alas, it’s not as easily weeded as the brambles in my garden. Why did God create brambles? What possible use could they serve? I mean — did He think ahead to this day and age when unwary dog owners let their four footed friends into their backyards only to have them return covered in sticky icky burrs? I hardly think so. There has to have been another plan, it just escapes me at the moment.

    • Kav, I am so sorry you had to endure that. But yes, yes, yes, that’s exactly the kind of thing that drives us to villianous acts! And you tell the story soooo well. With a brambles metaphor, to boot! Do you think that’s why God gave us weeds, so we’d have wonderful word pictures to get the point across?

Great to "see" you here today! I look forward to reading your comment.