Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jacking Up Your Stories - Brought To You By Jerks, Jekylls, and Jabba the Hutt

Got any Jerks in your novel? How about a Dr. Jekyll? Perhaps a slimy slug like Jabba the Hutt?

I do. And my novel is completely Jacked up (Significantly increased or expanded) because of them.

So - what's so great about these J dudes and how do they give novels a lift?

Jerk? You gotta have the jerk. Like HP’s Draco Malfoy, Gatsby’s Tom Buchanan, or Toy Story’s Sid Phillips. The jerk (aka the big bully) provides the perfect antithesis to your hero. And creates sympathy for the main character and everyone else. And well, your characters can’t all be good guys, right?!

Jekyll? And Hyde? Good guy by day, devil inside. Does your story have to have one? I don’t know, but mine always seem to.

And Jabba the Hutts? Those grotesque, skeevy characters that make your stomach want to turn inside itself. I’m not talking the incongruous grotesque like Beast or The Hunchback of Notre Dame that induce empathy. Or even the Fregleys of books you almost feel sorry for.

I’m talking the ones who make you shudder and slam the book shut the moment they walk onto the page. You know – like Voldemort—ugh—no wonder people don’t want to say his name. Or President Snow(Hunger Games). He STILL sends shivers down my spine.

And sometimes you can have all three J’s in one character—I’ve got one like that. Complete jerk to the girl he shows his Hyde to. Makes me want to shower repeatedly after reading his scenes. Yuck. Still shuddering.

Of course, there are good jerks and Jabbas we eventually come to love. Like The DUFF’s Wesley Rush or Hunger Games’ Haymitch. Shoot. I even have a soft spot for Snape. And the new and reformed Draco.

So how do these repugnant characters jack up your novel? Aside from making your mc look THAT much better, the baddies can provide humorous outakes—especially when fates befall them. Remember Delores Umbridge’s giant encounter? Ever read a book when the school pig/bully wakes up with one less eyebrow or suffers embarrassment from, uh, baring his wares?

Jerks and Jabbas can force your protagonists outside of their comfort zone, make them take chances they wouldn’t ordinarily take. Or, believe it or not, affect your protags lives for the better. The baddies can completely enrich your script—especially when they’re multi-dimensional. And leave your novel completely Jacked up.

Of course there are those that are completely jacked up in a very jacked up sort of way. You see, Jacked up can also mean “messed up.” Reprehensible. Objectionable.

And have I got some way too jacked-up J words for you…

Jersey Shore

Justin Bieber

Jacob Black

Oh wait—did I offend anyone? My bad.


So here’s to a totally Jacked up day for you—the good Jacked.

And may the Jerks, Jekylls, and Jabbas out there expand your horizons and enrich your lives.

What about YOU? Who are some of your favorite Jerks in stories?


  1. I've got a Jabba Jerk in my story that is never actually see. Only the remains of his destruction is left behind....

  2. Clever use of the 'Js' I love a good old fashioned badie.

  3. Awesome post! Just what the doctor ordered.

  4. This was a nice round up of the different antagonists a book can have and their roles for the good or the bad. Nicely done on all the Js.
    - Sophia.

  5. This is such a great post! Reading it is having me rethink some of my characters. :)

  6. What a delightful blog and post. So glad to meet you thru the a-z challenge.

  7. I love creating the perfect creep. It's my favorite. Especially since, I'm known for writing about creepy things. I even creep myself out sometimes.

  8. I always thought Umbridge got off easy. That chick was horrible. She deserved to die, or at least to have some form of revenge taken on her. Something more meaningful that what actually happened.

  9. doesn't math teacher = sarcastic? me too. tap dancing is impressive! nice J post =)
    Happy J & K Day!

  10. Great post! Crafting great creeps is definitely an art, and having those creeps in novels definitely adds intriguing layers/dimensions to a story. :)

  11. This is great, fits well into my hero's journey.

    Thank you for commenting, btw.

    The one that grips me most if Jacob Black, because he's fun and nice, but still couldn't win (I'm still glad he didn't and even more happy he was lucky in the end too.)
    Nahno ∗ McLein


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