When I began writing Tenderfoot, I had three characters. Jules – the narrator, Andrew – the love interest, and Nick – the man of mystery. They established their personality traits fairly quickly. Nick’s voice was the most challenging to pin down, in keeping with his ‘difficult’ nature, but with a little work, they had voices. Then I diagrammed the possible relationships between the characters until I settled on the ones Tenderfoot was written around. But that left one question: who was the bad guy?
Since the basis of the story is Jules’ discovery of her paranormal abilities, she couldn’t be the bad guy. Andrew, the athlete who dreams of earning a spot on the Olympic fencing team? Nope, that would be unfair to the readers. What about Nick, the campus rock star who annoys the living daylights out of Jules, a freshman on campus trying to find her bearings? That sounded great! Except for one thing. I, the author, developed a soft spot for Nick and couldn’t pull the trigger. (Whoops! That’s okay, I don’t feel bad about it. Nick has that affect on people.) The position Nick’s character occupied was the natural choice for a villain. With it filled, I was left where I started. Who was the bad guy?
I kept stumbling over this assumption about Nick until I found a way to use it to my advantage in Tenderfoot. Why not Nick? He’s pushy, he crosses lines, and he doesn’t apologize for doing so. But what if he had a reason for his behavior? What if all his actions were tied to one goal? What if that goal had something to do with a… bad guy?
In writing Jules’ story, the bad guy makes a single appearance. Like any good villain, this one, a Backahasten, serves his purpose. He’s menacing, he presents an obstacle to the main characters, and you never know if he’s right around the corner.
The best part about the bad guy? He’s back for Blinded, the sequel to Tenderfoot! I can’t promise the readers will meet him more than once, (although it’s possible since the book is in progress) but I will leave you with this: the bad guy’s story will finally be told.