Designing the Bad Guy

“You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say ‘That’s the bad guy.’ …So say goodnight to the bad guy! …last time you gonna see a bad guy like this…”  Thus spoke Al Pacino’s ever defiant and self-assured Tony Montana in Scarface. Audiences have been captivated by Tony since he first hit the screen in 1983. He repulsed and enthralled throughout the film. What a challenging magic trick. 

Many stories hinge on the writer’s ability to produce sinister spellbinding characters. What is Dark Knight without Heath Ledger’s Joker? Is Inglorious Bastards memorable without the predatory Hans Landa brought to disturbing life by Christopher Waltz? In only 24 minutes of screen time Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal Lecter casts an inescapable shadow in Silence of the Lambs. Denzel Washington’s Alonzo Harris overwhelms the landscape in Training Day. Even animated films can provide such characters lest we forget Scar terrorizing the pride land in The Lion King.  A story with a bland “bad guy” often becomes a bland movie. Tony was right, we need the bad guy. 

My new book Stone Souls will be released soon. In the pie chart of motivators, it is my attempt to create a mesmerizing bad guy. To produce a character that impacts the reader the way so many rogues have fascinated me. Perhaps Kurt “Stone” Adams will be your Joker or Tony, demanding your attention even when you wish he didn’t. Sharing thoughts you wish you could reject outright but, somehow, feeling pulled into his ferocious orbit. We shall see.

There were many influences that led to the creation of Kurt Adams, some were mentioned above. Allow me to share one from the study of history. In 1869 Sergey Nechayev released a short pamphlet, The Revolutionary Catechism, also called Catechism of a Revolutionary, which succinctly detailed what it meant to be a true revolutionary (1). Kurt Adams strives to be such a revolutionary. He views the maintenance of the unfolding revolutionary process essential to his life as he continues to…liberate…the Common States of America from the corrupting influence of foreign ideas, like those found in the United States. Here are three lines from The Catechism (2) that illuminate the brutal dedication of the revolutionary, a glimpse into a heart of uncompromising darkness.

“Tyrannical toward himself, he must be tyrannical toward others. All the gentle and enervating sentiments of kinship, love, friendship, gratitude, and even honor, must be suppressed in him and give place to the cold and single-minded passion for revolution. For him, there exists only one pleasure, one consolation, one reward, one satisfaction – the success of the revolution.”

“When a comrade is in danger and the question arises whether he should be saved or not saved, the decision must not be arrived at on the basis of sentiment, but solely in the interests of the revolutionary cause. Therefore, it is necessary to weigh carefully the usefulness of the comrade against the expenditure of revolutionary forces necessary to save him, and the decision must be made accordingly.”

“To weld the people into one single unconquerable and all-destructive force – this is our aim, our conspiracy, and our task.”

From these revolutionary thoughts and fictitious fanatics arose Kurt “Stone” Adams. He is coming…do you dare say you are ready?

(1)There is debate among historians regarding whether Nechayev wrote the pamphlet alone or in collaboration with Mikhail Bakunin.

(2) Quotations from The Catechism can be found at 

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