Quick poll: do you have a character you hate to love or you love to hate?
There is an irresistible *something* about these people that grind against your basic instincts that makes you do the opposite of what ever fiber in your being tells you otherwise. It's the allure of the Bad Boy, the best of the villains, the anti-heroes who we cheer for against our more law-abiding and ethical good judgement. It's the thing that makes some people want to reform them and cuddle them or others who want to secretly be them and whether it's Hannibal Lechter, Bruce Wayne, Lisbeth Salander, or, my personal fave, Avery Cates, there's a visceral attraction to these types of characters who walk in the dark, take it, own it, and make it their own.
My own character, Tender, was no accident in this.
But I think it's important for these sorts of characters to work to include something, well, maybe not "humane" per se, but something that is at least logical about their backstory that gives credence and weight to why they are like this--what happened in the past to create such a person now. If we can understand that, it gives the outsider perspective--like a keyhole in a dark door--through which we can peer inside and understand if not, exactly, justify, and that little glimpse of light and hope is what we secretly wish for that person to get better. If we can only find the key...
And into the rabbit hole we go!
Ever have a favorite character like that? The one you can't stop liking or the one you love to loathe? What do you think it is about the Bad Guy/Girl that makes them so addictive?