Baddies

A recent comment on one of my stories noticed that I don’t often have clear-cut antagonists, or “baddies,” as they put it. They happened to see it in a positive light, but depending on what you want out of a story, this point can go either way. Sometimes, having a clear-cut bad guy that every good guy wants to defeat can be engaging, fun, and the bedrock for a good story. In fiction, Lord of the Rings comes to mind. There was no real nuance to Sauron’s badness. Nobody on the good guys’ camp defended him to a noticeable extent. In real life, we make many more stories, films and games about World War Two than World War One. It’s easy to see why: Hitler was a bad guy that needed to be stopped. In World War One… who even was the clear-cut bad guy? Franz Ferdinand? He died immediately. the guy that killed him? He was standing up for an oppressed country. It was complicated. The world liked the ‘clear cut bad guy’ narrative more.

Too many stories are driven by conflict all directed against the one bad guy, with everyone coming together against them.

Anonymous commenter, Mutual Benefits Chapter 20, Literotica

“Too many.” That’s very interesting. In erotica, now that I think about it, all of my favorite stories involved people that were at one time good and at one time bad. It’s also the mark of a decent writer to make the bad guy sometimes likeable, and in my opinion, the mark of a great writer to make the good guy sometimes hated, but still clearly the good guy. Especially to make it effortless. I’m still working on that, and if my stories are any indication, I’m far from perfect on it.

I was happy when I read the comment. I definitely strive to create stories where some people can be our “antagonist” one day and a begrudging ally the next, maybe even a friend down the line. That to me is a perfect example of high school drama – fluid morality. We were all teens in high school. We didn’t have the ideals of right and wrong that we do now. We were too black and white, and too emotional on top of that. The bad guy isn’t some terrible jerk that hates you and is also less cool than you or whatever, they were a flawed person that misjudged a decision or something. Writing about that is engaging and fun, and reading it, hopefully, can be titillating if done right.

A bad guy, as with a good guy, is what you make of them. I try not to make characters with only one defining quick, and more and more, I’ve enjoyed writing characters from different perspectives. Even back in 2019, I revisited the character of Adam in Only If You Want and showed how, from Phil’s POV, it was completely reasonable to distrust Adam and think of him as a bit of a dick. Maybe some people had to rethink their perspective after reading that. That was certainly a goal of mine. Perhaps there are people in your own life who were actually more reasonable, or less reasonable, than you think. It’s almost inevitable that this is true about at least one person in your life’s story.

That’s what I like to do. I like to tell life stories. Stories grounded in reality (which doesn’t necessarily make them true or ‘they could happen’ stories, just stories directly inspired by reality and how it works). I like dialogue, whereas a lot of erotica writers avoid it. I like chitchat because that stuff leads to flirting. I like fluid morality and complicated characters, because it’s fun to watch their stories unfold. It’s fun to have to think about who you trust or agree with or like in a story. I’ve said before that I want to emulate high school: that isn’t accomplished by insisting the characters are sixteen but still making them act like cardboard may-as-well-be-adult people stuck in a high school (cough cough, 90% of the high school erotica community). It comes from emulating what decisions we had to make and what feelings we felt in high school. Without it, you’re saying the age alone is what makes it hot, and… that’s weird. I think the circumstance and the memory of the hormones coupled with our seemingly high-stakes day-to-day life is what made it hot.

Again, this isn’t to say clear-cut baddies are bad, or inferior. I think it’s a different type of story, and I’ve made some pretty indefensible characters too. I just think the ‘baddie’ as a default is more fun if their human character is… human. It’s more fun to learn about people and share their emotions – when you boil erotica down, that’s what we’re doing, even during the sexier parts. I’ll talk to you all next week.

2 thoughts on “Baddies

  1. In a traditional story structure, a protagonist should have goals and motivations. An antagonist would be basically anyone who, directly or indirectly, prevents the protagonist from reaching the goal (i.e. conflict).

    Taken this way, Morgan, Taylor, and Nicole are sometimes the baddies (antagonists).

    Conflict(s) is what makes a story a story, with the story ending when the protagonist reaches his/her goal. Many sex stories, especially “slice-of-life” or “coming-of-age” stories, tend to be without conflict, which can get boring after a while. It would be the equivalent of watching a Hulk movie and watching him smashing enemies one after another without much effort – It gets boring without a clear enemy. That’s a common issue with stories by mypenname3000 where the MC has no clear opposing enemy.

    One of your greatest strengths as a writer is creating conflicts that are “organic” and stem from the characters’ personalities. It’s analogous (or is it synonymous?) to sitcom TV shows where each episode introduces mini-conflicts that are resolved within the show itself.

    Writing like this is challenging without having distinct character personalities (that are relatable), which many erotica writers struggle with. It’s difficult to write dialogue when the writers don’t know how the characters should say, react and respond in different situations.

    Adam and Nicole have their own goals and motivations, and a conflict is born when their goals oppose each other. In a way, they are each other’s antagonists. Add teenagers’ immaturity to the mix, and lots of drama ensues.

    Though I’d say this “drama” doesn’t just happen in high school; it’s very common with adults too. (That said, I know it’s not your intention to say this only happens in high school.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great points all around. And while I didn’t overtly say it only happens in high school, perhaps I was a bit reductive.

      Don’t even get me started on mypenname3000…

      Like

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