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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

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  474 Ratings  ·  51 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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ebook, 304 pages
Published July 14th 2008 by Writers Digest Books
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(showing 1-30)
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Rose
Initial reaction: 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.

Full review:

There's definitely an appeal to writing fictitious narratives from the perspectives of people who may not necessarily be heroic. Or, let's face it - they're the bad guys. Jessica Page Morrell's "Bullies, Bastards, & Bitches:
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Sharon
Jun 18, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, writing
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
Jan 23, 2010 Bill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
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
Apr 23, 2013 Tom Van Boening rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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Amanda Patterson
Nov 11, 2010 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
T. Cannon
Nov 08, 2016 T. Cannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love all of her books on writing, although many of her works have this "female writer speaking to female writer" vibe to them that sometimes makes me feel like I'm in the wrong department store! Look past that minor detail and appreciate the insights, for the content is exceptional and worth a read for any aspiring writer.
A.J. Bauers
This book is an excellent resource for any writer who wants to dig a little deeper in the characterization of their bad guys, villains, antagonists, and anti-heroes.

One of the biggest problems I find with reading craft books are that many of the book references given as examples for a technique or character types are books known for their literary value, and not so much reflective of the modern reading audience. This book was well-rounded, citing sources from classical literature to science fict
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Caitlin Trepp
I really liked the first 5 chapters of the book about anti-heroes, antagonists, dark heroes, and overall character structure. The last 7 chapters about villains, sociopaths, and kid-friendly villains was mostly about incorporating clichés I wish would die, like true crime stories, using mental illness as being equivalent with badness, evil, madness, etc., and female underrepresentation. The women chapter, known in this book as the chapter on bitches, is like 3 pages where a bunch of different ch ...more
Adrianna
Jan 11, 2009 Adrianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing-craft
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
Aug 14, 2012 Lisa Annesley rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 27, 2009 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writing
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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Alexandria
If the author doesn't break her arm patting herself on the back, it would come as a huge surprise to me.

Unending self-congratulation aside, the author also seems to think women can be shoved into a very small number of categories. She also thinks that women are inherently different antagonists/anti-heroes than men. Everything about her writing screamed "women are only bad for shock value! Men are the default bad guys! Women are harder to make bad because they're inherently good!!1!!11!11!!".

I c
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Becky Black
Aug 07, 2014 Becky Black rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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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Charles Ray
Jan 11, 2016 Charles Ray rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bullies, Bastards & Bitches is a politically incorrect title (in today’s PC world), but it’s the absolutely correct title for Jessica Page Morrell’s book on how to write the bad guys of fiction.
Starting with an in depth description of the primal fears that motivate all of us, Morrell than proceeds to chart how to create memorable bad guy (or girl) characters that will keep readers turning the pages of your book, because they see in what you write the things they fear, and they’re afraid to s
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Wanda Paryla
Feb 24, 2013 Wanda Paryla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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Elaine Cramer
Jun 15, 2016 Elaine Cramer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: writers
Shelves: non-fiction, writing
This book is well written, but I'm glad to be done. I did not find it compelling enough to pick up outside my lunch hour, thus it took me 4 months to complete. I found it to be repetitive in places, but it gave good things to think about.

If not for goodreads, I may not have finished the book to the very end, as it concludes with advise on writing for youngster, which is not my bag. However, I do like the questions to consider at the very back of the book, so you might want to check that out bef
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Rita Bailey
Apr 06, 2014 Rita Bailey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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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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
Dec 21, 2009 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 14, 2011 Demetra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Tammie Painter
Sep 22, 2013 Tammie Painter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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!
Dawn
Jun 04, 2010 Dawn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Debra Daniels-zeller
This book about how to write bad guys is filled with lots of great information for fiction writers. So many tips and examples, make this book a keeper in references on writing. Morels' side bars are especially helpful, and her recommendations for reading inspire me to read more. This book gets a perfect score!
Jenn Basel
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.
Tara Bateman
Overall I think this was a good book, but I was wanting more depth to it. maybe I've been spoilt lately with the depth of some of the 'how to write' books I've been reading.
I thought the chapter on writing villains and antagonists for children was well done, but the one on villainous and antagonistic women was too general and left me wanting more.
Katherine Harbour
Jan 06, 2014 Katherine Harbour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
S.L. Saboviec
I am fascinated by morally grey characters. In fact, my favorite characters are either villains or anti-heroes. So as a writer, I've watched many movies and read many books, exploring for myself how to write great antagonists.

This book is good for someone who hasn't done that. It can be summed up in one sentence: treat them like any other character, and flesh them out accordingly.
Joseph
Apr 24, 2009 Joseph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Vivien Chase
Dec 30, 2014 Vivien Chase rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent for dissecting your darker characters, whether they're a tortured hero or a dastardly villain. It even includes useful resources for psychological analysis. A must-have for every writer.
Kitty Felone
Sep 18, 2013 Kitty Felone rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: references
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.
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“Perhaps the best known of these films were the three that Clint Eastwood starred in for director Sergio Leone: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, in which he played a gunslinger or bounty hunter wandering the countryside and settling scores for a price. Eastwood’s character took the law into his own hands, but he was essentially on the side of good and order. While Eastwood’s character, a dark hero type, employed unusual means to bring about justice, viewers found him irresistible because he was inscrutable, macho, and capable. While his motives were questionable, he brings his own kind of order out of chaos—actions that readers and film viewers always appreciate. In fact, he was a man of action, was extremely self-reliant, and just didn’t give a damn—all qualities that have universal appeal. His character’s darkness was a departure from the usual heroes starring in traditional Westerns, and this stirred the viewers’ imaginations.” 2 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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