Monday, October 12, 2009

Can too good be bad?

There are countless stories (books, movies, TV shows etc.) that follow this formula:

Good girl falls for the bad boy with a dangerous secret.

For as often as its used it works pretty darn good. I for one am a huge fan of the good girl loves the bad boy thing. I can think of a dozen examples right now. It's a tried and true formula. Just look at some of the books you've read over the course of your life. Sage, my first book that I've recently lost mind and decided to revise, falls right in line with this idea. Which got me to thinking.

Is a girl who's too good a bad thing?

Should I tip the scales on my main characters tendencies and make her a little more naughty? Well, maybe not so naughty, flawed might be a better word. She's already stubborn and independent, but she's still what you'd call a good girl. Maybe she needs to loosen up and sneak out of her bedroom window to meet a boy or skip school a time or two. Because believe me, she's got it in her to do those sort of things.

Then again if the whole good-girl-loves-bad-boy thing has worked for so many, maybe I should stick with what works. Lots to consider.

What about you? How do you feel about the good girl formula? Does your story follow it?


ElanaJ said...

My entire story is about good vs. bad. In fact, they're capped in my MS. I'm not kidding. I have a Good girl who meets a Bad boy and they run away together. Of course, she's as Bad--if not worse--than he is. The novel examines exactly what it means to be "good" or "bad" thus the capitalizations.

But it all stemmed from this whole "good girl falls for bad boy" concept that seems to be prevalent in YA lit.

Lisa and Laura said...

Hmm...this is an interesting question. We definitely have bad boys, but our girls are usually on the snarky side.

Tere Kirkland said...

Ah, but they're never really all "good" are they? I especially enjoy seeing that moment when the "good girl" cracks and does something mean.

My last heroine was a total good girl, but my current mc is a bit of a selfish snot. She's been lots of fun to write, but I think I might have made her love interest too good. He's no bad boy, that's for sure, but she likes him anyway.

Lizzy Mason said...

My girl MCs are usually pretty good, but they generally have a snarky, sarcastic, self-preservation side to them, too. My boys, however, aren't really bad. They're mysterious or annoying. Hard to love? Yes. But not bad. Maybe I need to rethink my next male MC...

Thanks for giving something to noodle on!

Mortem Twins said...

My book goes along those lines, too, lol. For the first draft, my MC had no flaws at all. She was perfect, almost, and I found out that it wasn't good for the story. So I decided to rewrite it. My MC is still a good girl, but turns out she hadn't been all her life. In fact, in the past, she had been very, very naughty. She just doesn't remember.

Jenna said...

Well, my FMC is not what you'd call a "good girl." She's downright mean sometimes. But my story only has the smallest of romance lines, so I don't know if my situation really counts.

I like the tradition of the good girl meets bad boy story, but sometimes I want something a little more evened out. Heck, maybe even reversed.

I try to balance everything as much as possible and give my characters a mix of traits. I dabble in shades of grey when creating characters and relationships, and I don't know if I'd be able to classify my characters as "good" or "bad" guys or girls. Hm.

But yes, too good can, I think, be potentially catastrophic.

Intriguing post! Definitely got me thinking.

jessjordan said...

good vs. bad is always good ... but if it's not done properly, it's definitely cliche. I struggle with this all the time. I don't want to use a bad boy for the sake of bad-boy-ness, but man I loved me some Patch!

I get a little bored with the too-good-girl narrator, but it's tough to "badden up" your lead. I struggle with that quite a bit. Best of luck finding the balance with Sage!

Casse AKA Catholic Kittie said...

I prefer bad girl falls for badder boy, then watch love trasform them into something better.

Goody two shoes gets over down and boring, unless it is done right. She can't be too good or it is hard to believe she will associate much less fall for bad boy. She has to have a secret not so good side to her.

I write about heroines who toe the good/bad line. Don't push her or you will get a bag of nails. And don't threaten her boy and her family or she is worse!

Natalie Murphy said...

I think some heroines can be a bit too good... mainly because I don't see them actually falling for the bad boy. However, that being said, I think as long as the character is good, but has a "closet" wildness to her, then everything is fine. The readers have to believe she'd actually fall for him for it to work. It may be as simple as she reads wild adventure novels or has a secret crush on a "bad boy" actor... like Gerard Butler or something. Or maybe she is just so stubborn that the bad boy is able to "dare" her into being bad.