Monday, March 30, 2009

YA Spring Break Week: Guest Blogger Monica McKayhan Weighs In On Bad Boys

UPDATE: The winner of five books from Monica's INDIGO series is Anna! Please email your physical address to contests @ (remove the spaces in the email addy).

He’s the rebel, or the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s bitter, volatile, a crushed idealist, but he's also confident and mysterious, charismatic and street smart. He despises authority and doesn't buckle under to anyone, which also makes him somewhat a bully. Girls are attracted to the bad boy because he represents everything that is exciting, intriguing and new. He’s everything she’s not. He’s nothing like her father and doesn’t possess anything that resembles her values. She knows that he won’t be accepted in her healthy circle, but she loves him nonetheless. And according to him, she’s the only one who loves him. “Without her,” he says, “no one else will care.” He’ll perish without her love. His mystery, confidence and seemingly unavailability in the beginning cause her to chase him, which proves that girls are also attracted to boys who ignore them.

Consider Stephanie Meyer’s Edward Cullen character in The Twilight Saga; a vampire who takes bad boy to a whole other level. When Edward first sees Bella in class, he stiffens up like he’s smelled a dead skunk and avoids her like the plague. She searches for him everyday and when he finally does come back, he alternates between being nice to her, and telling her she shouldn’t be friends with him. This back and forth drives Bella crazy, which is probably what Edward wants all along.

There’s nothing worse than a guy consistently having to resist the urge to kill you for lunch, but the fact remains that girls’ love for bad boys had withstood the test of time. In the not-so-terrifying ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER, we see the bad boy as the protector when he and Becky Thatcher are lost in a cave. In the beginning, Tom Sawyer primarily has no moral code, his sense of ethics confined to feeling guilty over a terrible act he’s already done through selfishness or impulsiveness. He is, however, presented with a genuine moral dilemma when he witnesses a murder, and travels a path that causes him to do the right thing. In this story, the bad boy becomes the hero.

Bad boys exist in real life – not just in fiction, which is why YA writers have such an important job. We have an obligation to not only entertain our young readers, but to equip them with information that can help them make good decisions. If we’re creating characters that look and act like them, then those same characters must be able to identify what’s good and whole, as well those things that are potentially harmful. While we, as girls, love bad boys – we have to know when bad is reflective of a flaw in character – perhaps a lack of maturity, or when bad is just bad for no good reason at all.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED. Leave your name in the comments and enter to win FIVE BOOKS from Monica McKayhan's INDIGO series!! The winner will be announced tomorrow morning.

DEAL WITH IT (Kimani Tru, June 2009)

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Blogger Anna said...

I woudln't have thought of Edward as a badboy but yes, if you just happen to watch him from the other side, he's plain dangerous for Bella no matter what :).

But even if as YA writers, we have to make readers learn something from our stories, our characters can't be boring. And really, badboys make real good characters :).

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Windsong said...

I like what you said about not only entertaining people with our stories, but to equip them so they can make good decisions. My favorite stories are those that are character driven. I love watching them grow and change over the course of the story.

Great thoughts!

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 11:29:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Jessica said...

Great blog!

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 11:41:00 AM EDT  
OpenID nightdweller20 said...

I also like what you said about equipping the characters so they can make good decisions. A lot of things influence girls, including what they read or watch on tv, so what someone does or writes for that particular audience should take care in what the material is.

And yes, I love bad boys! It's very true that girls are attracted to them because they are different and encompass different values (or none at all), or because they ignore the girl. It's like, "Oh, he's not drooling after me like every other guy, so I must pursue him." lol

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 12:23:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Erika Lynn said...

Edward is a whole new kind of bad boy. and while I LOVE bad boys in my fiction I am over them in real life.

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 2:56:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Chanelley said...

I think bad boys are very addictive to read about. I have a few bad boys in my own work, and without them, it doesn't feel right. Everyone likes a bit of danger in their life to stop it being boring!

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 2:58:00 PM EDT  
OpenID elfmama said...

Yea, I always liked bad boys because I was such a goog girl. Of course, after a while you see why they're called bad.

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 4:11:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Cursing Mama said...

Bad boys are so addictive - I married one. Lucky for me he was really a good guy ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 4:33:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Julie Butcher-Fedynich said...

I have possibly more teenage girls than anyone here ;D

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 5:52:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Isabel said...

Edward Cullen is yummy! Bad boys are addicting. My next WIP features a bay boy. :)


Monday, March 30, 2009 at 6:25:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Lyric James said...

OH! I love Edward. He is such a "good" bad boy if that makes any sense. LOL

But I do agree, girls these days need to know the difference between a bad boy just being bad for no reason at all and which one is redeemable. Great post!

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 6:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Lizzie Ann said...

I love redeemable bad boys! Another thing I love is writing a bad boy who's really a good guy in disguise. It's shows that you can't always judge by outward appearance or reputation alone. Sometimes you have to look deeper to find the real person under the act.

Great post, and thanks for the reminder that as YA writers we have a responsibility to our readers. It's something I try to keep in mind as I write.

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 7:19:00 PM EDT  
Blogger whateverfor said...

I guess I hadn't really noticed that Edward was the bad boy since he was so dedicated to doing the right thing... but he is from the "wrong side of the tracks," being a vampire and all, and he is nothing like Bella's father. So yeah, I guess he is a bad boy hero isn't he?


Monday, March 30, 2009 at 7:48:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Stacey said...

Thanks for the look into the bad boy. I have a character in my current MS that kindof walks the line, perhaps I need to make him a little bit more bad? ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 9:29:00 PM EDT  
OpenID gioclair said...

The difference you make between 'good' bad boys and 'real' bad boys is so important.

A few young girls love 'real' bad boys even if these boys damage their self-esteem. I've seen this so many times. Luckily enough, girls become women, but a few remain trapped in the bad charm.

'He will change," the girl thinks.

But 'real' bad boys don't change. Ever.

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 9:37:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The HS girls I volunteer with are gaga for Edward.

Thanks for a great post!

~Lindsey S

Monday, March 30, 2009 at 11:21:00 PM EDT  
Blogger tetewa said...

I also enjoy the bad boys, enjoyed the post today!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at 8:01:00 AM EDT  

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