It’s no secret that I love a good bad guy. A great villain can make a piece of fiction, just like a shitty one can make me wish I spent my time doing something else, like regrouting my bathroom or organizing photos* or conquering a neighbouring country.
The conflicted bad guy, the grey area bad guy, the downright evil bad guy…I love them all. And my love for them is matched only by my hate of another character.
No, not the good guy. It always surprises people, but I love good guys, too. From the slightly-shady Black Widows to the perfectly stand-up Captain Americas, they are their own kind of fun and I love them for it. It doesn’t matter if they use guile or brute force to achieve their aims. Because what I like is conviction.
And what I hate is wishy-washiness.
That is the character I hate: the one who won’t commit. The one who lingers on the sidelines, wringing their hands, never getting a damn thing done.
The heroes who refuse to take a stand.
The villains who won’t take the steps needed to win.
The secondary character who could have solved all this if you had just bothered to do anything.
You all suck.
Worse: you’re all boring.
I’m not saying they can’t be conflicted. Look up the page: I love conflict. Have a hard time with a decision. But then decide.
Writers, beware: life is full of enough hesitation and half-measures. I don’t need that in my fiction. Go big or go home.
And make sure your characters get the memo.
*I still have not printed a single wedding photo AND I DON’T CARE.