Whoa, can the title of this post be totally misconstrued! I see eyebrows of readers arching all around the world.
I don’t mean that I need a bad guy in real life. I’m particularly partial to the good guy that I’m married to.
I mean, I need a bad guy in my novels. As in, an actual person that has a point of view, or voice. I’ve had such bad guys (or, in one case, a woman) in most of my novels. However, when I began writing the “Pine Mountain Estates” series, I was toying with the idea of writing books along the lines of Jan Karon or Ginny Ytrupp’s first few novels. Basically, straight women’s fiction. Stories of nice people whose “bad guys” are metaphorical, consisting mainly of the struggles they encounter.
The first book in my “Pine Mountain Estates” series has a bad guy, but he’s in the background. I don’t want to say anymore, lest I give out spoilers.
It wasn’t the most fun book I’ve ever written.
Similarly, the first book in my “Rock Star Husbands” series (which is currently unpublished because I’m going to totally rewrite it) sort of has a “bad guy”, but not the kind that’s truly threatening.
The book became a struggle to write halfway through, and ended up being kind of boring.
On the other hand, the second book (also unpublished at the moment) does have an active bad guy. It was easier for me to write through the middle, and is a lot more fun to read.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to read well-written (and clean) straight women’s fiction. And if you’ve never read any of Jan Karon’s or Ginny Ytrupp’s books, I suggest you give those authors a try.
I even enjoy upmarket fiction, which is more realistic than genre fiction (thrillers, romance, mysteries, etc.) and thus doesn’t tend to have an active bad guy.
But what I figured out about halfway through my latest novel, the third book in the “Pine Mountain Estates” series, is that if I’m going to have fun writing a story, I need a bad guy. An actual person, who is messing with the protagonists.
And I don’t want to write a book that’s not fun for me to write.
Live and learn. Or, in my case, write and learn.