Becoming Bad

There comes a time in my story when I need to bring a character over to the dark-side. Generally if its someone who has been dabbling or leaning over the line for a while I’ll have something give them a nudge. Or I’ll reveal their true nature that was there all along just being hidden.

I like to carefully foreshadow a characters corruption with influential words or actions that betray their true nature or intentions. If I don’t do this it can leave the reader confused as to why they became bad or acted out aggressively.

This I find can be complicated or even hard to do if I become attached to a character or decide to lead them down the dark path even though they started on the light side as the character in my example did.

I personally like to give these flippers a rich story, something to get the reader interested in them but leery at the same time.

Amber wrenched open the door to stop Scott’s incessant pounding before it upset her neighbors.
“Stop it.” Amber scowled. “Come in already.”
Scott dripping from the rain wiped his face and teetered on his feet.
Amber closed the door. “Ugh. You’re drunk. Why are you here?”
Scott grabbed her by the shoulders “First Sasha now you. Why?”
“What?” Amber tried to pull away wincing at his sour breath.
“She turned me down now you are, are you playing some game?”
“Oh my God Scott. I’m with Dale, I’m having his freaking baby. Sasha just didn’t like you. I’m beginning to wonder if she saw something I didn’t.” Amber tried to pull away again. “Until recently that is. Let me go.”
“No! This isn’t how its supposed to be. I get the girl! Me, not Dale, me! If not Sasha then you at least.”
“Charming.” Amber shoved his chest and managed to get out of his grip. “Get out of my apartment. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
“Liar, yes you do. You want to have sex with me.” Scott said with a slur and grabbed for her again forcing his mouth over hers. Amber brought up her knee, wedged her foot against his thigh and pushed Scott away.
“You don’t know squat abou twhat I want. Get the fuck out of my apartment now.” She ran for her cellphone, her hands shaking.
“It’s not too late Amber. Dump Dale, you can get rid of the problem and be with me. You know that’s what you really want.”
Shaking and fighting back tears she eyed the door he now blocked. “I’m calling 911.” She held the phone up to her ear backing up toward the kitchen. Scott advanced too fast,  the phone from her hand and ended the call.
“Don’t be a bitch Amber, I’m just offering you what you want. I know that parasite isn’t Dale’s, I wont let you hurt him. Dale and I’ve been friends since university. Admit that you’re a slut, and I’m all yours.”
Amber turned and ran to the kitchen, grabbed a chef’s knife from the block and spun to face the wild-eyed drunk Scott. “Get out, get out, get out you bastard, get out!”
Scott held up his hands and backed up back down the hall as she advanced. The image of his ex fiancée with a knife in her hand calling him a bastard slammed into his mind hard. The impact, though mental, was like a physical blow. He stopped her then, he would stop her now… His face darkened, he lowered his chin and glared.
“You’re threatening me? First you tease me, then trick my best friend to have unprotected sex with you, fake your pregnancy to trap him and now you’re threatening me?” A crooked smile distorted his face. “I’ll make you pay for this Linda, you’ll regret crossing me again. Dale will see the truth in you just like Andrew did; you slutty little whore!” Scott hurled Amber’s cellphone at her face forcing her to duck as Scott left, slamming the door behind him.
Amber stumbled against the door sliding the dead-bolt in place and scrambled for her phone to call Dale. “Please, please pick up, please.” She wiped her tears as she collapsed to her knees on the floor.
Scott spat on the door and stumbled in his blind fury out to his car. He would take care of her just like he did Linda. “Treacherous bitches. Sleeping with my friends.” He slammed his palms against the steering wheel. “Nobody cheats on me.”

Sooo… Yeah Scott’s gone off the deep end, no surprise there really. Dangerous people become desperate and desperate people are dangerous. When I write someone loosing control I give it back to them quickly. An irrational bad guy isn’t as fun as someone who can regroup, plan  and carry out a dastardly plan. For Scott to tip the scale I gave him alcohol to lower his defenses and mess up big time.

My advice about exposing the bad guy.
Make it sudden, startling and abrupt. However make sure there is enough foreshadow that the reader isn’t scowling at the pages wondering WTF?

-Sheryl

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Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved
Squat

Time to flip the switch

Everyone has that point, that moment when they’ve reached maximum capacity and put their foot down.  If they don’t then nobody will care or respect them that’s for sure. I monitor my protagonist’s progress carefully. Toss them a bunch of crap, show them slowly finding fault in their situation and then let them see reality. The moment when enough is enough and they finally stand up and square off to fight back.

This is where I like to have some fun. As with everything else people react differently to everything. So there are no hard set rules on how to make someone react to anything. The only thing I keep in mind is how they have been up to this point. Who have I made them? And where do I want them to go.  I try not to make it crazy unrealistic within their personality. A person that has never shot a gun before can’t just pick one up and take out the bad guys no problem. A person that is terrified of heights isn’t going to magically not be, they will still struggle and it should be a challenge. Nobody’s perfect after all.

Sasha was calm for someone with a gun pressed hard in her back. She’d almost laughed when Baylor skulked in with a gun pointed at her. His face said he meant business even more than the gun symbolized.

She couldn’t let him win; she would not be a martyr. Ben won. Cal was right about that. Ben wasn’t the only one either. Her dad subtly bullied her, Scott and Dale were picking on her in different ways and Amber was in full on war mode. Her stupid boss was playing some asinine game. No. No more losing for her. There was no way to know how long she had, before Baylor did whatever he planned to do. Baylor limped badly. It was more of a hobble since both legs were hurt. He rubbed his broken nose with his bandaged left hand and glared at her with his two blackened eyes. He hissed at her to stay quiet or else. Sasha was over being in danger and almost laughed again at his over the top grotesqueness.

The only thing that stood in the way of her fantasized bravery was a gun. It was obvious he didn’t want to shoot her. Probably because it would be loud and draw attention. The other probably was likely that he wanted to draw out his revenge. That thought made her angry. How is any of this her fault? She was polite and turned him down gently. She hadn’t been so gentle with Cal. But then again Cal was charming and started to wear down her defenses; setting alarms off in her head and she shut him down.

Baylor stopped at the end of the hall by the stairwell and opened a room. It was an occupied room. There were belongings everywhere, not in a messy way, but in the way that suggested the occupants had been there for more than a couple days. Baylor shoved her to the couch. This suite was the same as hers and Cal’s. Only in blues not white and tan.

“Stupid bitch. You’re ruining my life.” Baylor’s fury showed in his face and posture. He smelled as if he’d been living at the bottom of a dumpster or worse. “I’m a dead man because of you.”

Again, she thought of how is it her fault. Clenching her fists at her side, she stared angrily at the gun. She wasn’t afraid of him specifically. He’d scared her too much and she hurt him too badly. Her eyes darted to his legs and widened in realization; Baylor took it for fear and grinned. He’s hurt and his Achilles heel was up for grabs. She gave herself a tiny curt nod. No more victim for her.

“Why? Why are you doing this?” She said the words cringing inwardly at the pathetic cliché of them.

“Why?” His maniacal laugh sent shivers over her skin. “I had to pass up the easy mark. I was okay with it because you were so pretty and different. I don’t normally bother with blondes and now you’ve ruined everything.”

“Why not leave me alone? Go hide until they stop looking for you and start over somewhere else?”

“Oh I will, I’ll disappear right after I ruin you. I’m going to leave you so destroyed no man will look at you again.”

He meant his words and she yelped as he advanced. Then everything slowed. She turned her head and pushed off the couch to the right. Scrambling to the table, she grabbed a chair and swung it at him. Gun or not her instincts took over. No more cowering for Sasha. She swung low and with force. It wasn’t as hard as she imagined, but it was enough when it connected with his bruised legs. She let go of the chair, remembering in that fraction of a second, that in movies the idiot who held onto the swung object lost. The attacked would grab it and game over. More or less.

Her hyper-slowed momentum didn’t falter. She grabbed and threw everything she could at him. She didn’t know when she started screaming. Not the high-pitched one of terror, but the guttural one of ‘I’ve had enough of your shit’ scream. She tipped the table and bolted for the bedroom kicking the doorstop out. The door would close slowly so she kept going for the bathroom. That door had a lock and was metal, she had locked one just like it several times.

Sasha isn’t exactly a knock-em down and fight it out person. She is just a normal person, untrained in any combat or defense skills. That doesn’t mean she’s defenseless or useless. While strong-willed and smart, her strength is in her resourcefulness. She has no idea why Baylor is after her, or why her life is so suddenly messed up. She knows one thing, he means to hurt her and she isn’t interested in his brand of hurt.

It is important to me to keep her the victim while allowing her to break free at the same time. There is however no going back, once she gets her footing and starts to climb back up from rock bottom, she’s not going to revert. I think she’s had enough of being a doormat it’s time to flip the switch and let her find a way out of her misery.

My advice about flipping the switch.
This is necessary in any story, the poor protagonist must eventually learn from their past and press forward to gain ground. However, by this point the reader should really want them to, and cheer that they do.

-Sheryl

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Martyr