Loving to hate

Sometimes terrible people make great characters.

I was reminded of this as I was working on my NaNoWriMo story this morning. One of the two protagonists is rude, mean and inconsiderate towards others. But I’m really enjoying writing her, because she says the sort of things I’d love to say but never actually do.

Sure he’s cool, but would you work with him?

This is part of the appeal of any character with an unpleasant streak, whether protagonist or villain, from Archer to the Joker. They say and do things that we half want to say and do because they would help us to vent our feelings, but that we don’t say and do because of the impact on others and the consequences. It lets them be witty and insightful in an edgy way that other characters aren’t. It’s fun to read, to watch and to write.

As people we would never want these characters in our lives. Archer is hilarious to watch on TV but he’s undoubtedly a complete arsehole. The character I’m writing might be entertaining on paper, but her snide superiority would drive me nuts in reality. Fiction lets us have our cake and eat it, spending time with these people but not having to live and work with them, and that’s great.

Who are your favourite mean characters, and do you find that you get something out of spending time with them?