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Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction
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Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  336 ratings  ·  40 reviews
Get to Know Your Character's Sinister Side

A truly memorable antagonist is not a one-dimensional super villain bent on world domination for no particular reason. Realistic, credible bad guys create essential story complications, personalize conflict, add immediacy to a story line, and force the protagonist to evolve.

From mischief-makers to villains to arch nemeses, Bullies,
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Unknown Binding, 304 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Writer's Digest Books (first published July 14th 2008)
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Sharon
This book was recommended to me by my friend and fellow author T.E. MacArthur. I concur with her premise that, no matter where we are in the authorship/publishing game, we can all learn something new.

In this book, author Jessica Page Morrell not only writes about creating the baddies (antagonists and villains) across genders and species, but about how fear itself works. In order to play on the psychology of fear in a reader, Morrell maintains, authors need to understand the biochemical nature of
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Bill
This book did not live up to my expectations. I read several good reviews and hoped that it would give me a solid foundation for creating the bad guys I need in my fiction. But I found the exploration of badness and evil to be shallow and repetitive. It was not much more than I got out of a few chapters in a more general book about character development. About halfway through the book, I started skimming and scanning the bullet lists. The author did present valid points, I just wish they had gon ...more
Tom Van Boening
There are a plethora of books on writing, and a large handful of books on writing characters, but not many books related to the craft of creating villains. Villains, that is to say very good villains, are highly complex and interesting.

As a writer, I thought it would be best to know how to specifically get villains down before working on the heroes. Your hero is only as good as the villain he or she overcomes, and this is why you need to get villains right.

The book by Jessica Page Morrell hits a
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Rita Bailey
Bullies, Bastards and Bitches is a The Bible of writing bad boy (and girl) fiction. Not a quick read, Morrell's book gives detailed instruction with examples from contemporary and classic fiction.

No one-dimensional super villains for editor and writing teacher Morrell. She explains the difference between anti-heroes, antagonists, villains and super-villains. and has separate chapters on Sociopaths, Bitches, Monsters, Creatures and Lost Souls, and Bad guys for Young Readers.

Did I say Bible? Make
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Adrianna
4.5 Stars. b\Bullies, Bastards & Bitches: How To Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell is definitely a book I would recommend for the writer's reference shelf.

Chapters on primal fears, making your character unforgettable, anit-heroes, dark heroes, bad boys to antagonists in the form of bullies, psychopaths, sociopaths, monsters, and lost souls, and delving into the personality of female villains with definitions of type. Checklists, reading lists, movies to watch. Identifying
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Lisa Annesley
4.5*s This is an excellent book on writing the gamut of characters from unlikeable protagonists to bad boys to antagonists to villains to sociopaths and more. Each chapter has sections with bullet points on such topics as creating that character and the characteristics of that character. There's a chapter on matching wits between your hero and your villain (the showdown), and creating depth to your antagonists/villains by creating sympathy for them. BB&B sparked many ideas for me for my work ...more
John
If you have antagonist problems, this is a great book on how to build compelling bad guys & gals & monsters. I took two workshops with Jessica Morrell at Willamette Writers, but not one on antagonists. I enjoyed her so much I picked up two of her books, and this is the on I read first, because my novel needed bad-guy help, STAT!
Well, done, and covers a variety of baddies, including anti-heroes, bad-boys, bad-girls, serial killers, sociopaths, and more. There is a chapter on how to match
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Wanda Paryla
The title is what captured my interest in this book at first. And I wasn't let down. This book is very informative, well written, and laid out in such a way that it's easy to follow and simple to find the information you're looking for if you don't want to read it from cover to cover right off the bat.

I wasn't sure how to characterize different bad guys or villains, say if I had more than one in a book. Thanks to this book, I have deciphered how to do this without all the antagonists sounding an
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Becky Black
An excellent writing advice book. And despite the title it's by no means only about writing villains, but also those edgier heroes and heroines who are more what the writer calls bad-asses.

You'll learn about archetypal characters and you'll see characters you already know well fitting into those archtypes, like the "Dark Hero" or the "Lost Soul". (For the Dark Hero I just kept thinking "This fits Sawyer from Lost to a T!")

It took me quite a few says to read it, even though it's not that long at
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Jessica Smith
Though I love Jessica Page Morrell's Between the Lines, this rehashed elements I'd already instinctually knew, so unfortunately offered nothing toward refining my craft further.
Jenna
I love the idea of this book. Villains, antiheroes, and antagonists are some of my favorite characters. In reading this book, though, I found it a little difficult to get through. Sections of it were somewhat dry, and many examples given were taken from books or movies I haven't seen, which made them hard to use for reference.
Ginnie Grant
A truly helpful and easy to understand guide that every writer should have one their shelves.
Jason Burham
As far as writing books go, this was a great idea that I thought was poorly executed. I was hoping for a book on helpful tips for fleshing out potentially iconic antagonists. The examples from this book of "bad guys" consist largely of the one dimensional and/or cliche villain types found in the likes of Janet Evanovich's books. It can get the job done if you just need to have a throwaway villain for a book or two, but if you're trying to tell a story with well balanced dramatic tension and bad ...more
Denise
I highly recommend this book for anyone writing a novel or short story. This book really helps you define your villains, and your anti-hero protagonists, or whoever is working against your main characters! I found myself scanning in and saving a couple of sections that work almost like checklists, for future villainography. Someday when I have extra money to throw around, I might even buy this book and keep it as a writing resource, instead of just borrowing it.
Demetra
A must read for anyone writing a dark hero, unreliable protagonist, or bully. This book helped me realize my villains, as well as my unlikeable protagonists, need to have positive traits to make them compelling. Feeling some twinge of understanding for where the bad guys are coming from makes them all the more sinister when they take us by surprise in the end.

Read it. You won't be disappointed.
Amanda Patterson
This has one of the best titles in the 'how to write a book' genre. It is also written by a good writing teacher. It is packed with everything you ever wanted to know about antagonists.
However, it misses being brilliant. It misses that thread that would make it make sense. It is more of a reference book than the self-help book it pretends to be.
I think that is why readers feel slightly cheated.
Dawn
I did find some useful things in this book -- a very nice chart of how to layer character emotions that actually made some sense, as well as a good idea about creating strengths and weaknesses by looking at the opposite for any traits (frugal/stingy) etc. It was good to find a book on how to create villians and antagonists as well, though some of it I didn't understand.
Katherine Harbour
You wouldn't think writing the bad guys would be that difficult, considering they're usually the ones who have no borders, the walking ids. This book will help any writer give their antagonists psyches and humanity, even if they aren't human. With chapter headings like 'Bastards: Anti-heroes' and 'Sympathy for the Devil,' there are plenty of ideas here.
Tammie Painter
Great book on delving into characters. Despite the title, it does briefly cover the "good guys" of fiction, butt he main focus is on bad guys from dark protagonists to downright villains. I would have given it five stars, but the advice does tend to get repetitive. Still, plenty of ideas and inspiration from this book!
Rose
Review to come. A strong guide with apt examples on how to craft "bad guys and girls" in fiction. I was impressed how Morrell organized and presented this. Some minor quibbles, but I gained much from reading this and plan to use it as a continued reference.
Theresa
This was a fantastic read for those of you in search of the best characters to build a story with. It's an excellent look at the satisfying conflicts caused by villains that we love to hate as we solve their challenges with gleeful power.
Kitty Felone
Love everything put out by the Writer's Digest. Anything they publish, you know it's gonna be great.

This was very education. Learning a lot! My copy, like always, is dog-eared, highlighted, underlined, and margin-noted.
Joseph
A great book bu there are a few problems. Who ever did the edit on this book missed a lot of typos and there is are supposed to be 12 chapters (the author references a chapter 12 but it stops at 11.
Susan
Oct 06, 2008 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fiction writers
This is an awesome book for anyone writing fiction. I have highlights on nearly every page! This is a keeper and will be shelved with other "how-to-write" books in my personal library.
Emma
Nice, solid writing-help book with interesting chapters on the different permutations of "bad guys". Definitely something I'd recommend for the writer who struggles with antagonists.
~Sara~
I'm reading this book for an essay I have to write on anti-heroes. So far it is very insightful but now I have to decide what to use. There's so much useful information!
Valerie
This book is a handy tool for aspiring writers. I have always had trouble creating believable villains in my books, and this book has been an invaluable resource.
Susan Colvin
This book is loaded with well-organized and useful character building information. It will stay in my library for frequent future reference.
Becky Hoffman
I read this for a referance for one of my characters in the book I'm writing. This is really a great book to use to create the perfect bad guy.
Imogen Woods
Great title! And because I'm learning all about the importance of antagonists in the story telling, this is going to be such a valuable resource.
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“Plot springs from character … I’ve always sort of believed that these people inside me—these characters—know who they are and what they’re about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don’t type. —ANNE LAMOTT” 0 likes
“Plot springs from character … I’ve always sort of believed that these people inside me—these characters—know who they are and what they’re about and what happens, and they need me to help get it down on paper because they don’t type. —ANNE LAMOTT” 0 likes
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