D-bag guys: Are they a turn off?

I would say Patrick Bateman from American Psycho doesn't think so, but his vote doesn't count, because he is--in fact--a d-bag.

As I sit here contemplating Feral, my new WIP dystopian, I can't help but wonder if my MC guy Jeremy is coming off too strong. Not only does it switch perspective between my MC Anna and Jeremy, his character is pretty sleazy. It's a first person perspective, changing every 2-3 chapters between them to give a glimpse of how the other changes.

For Jeremy, he's a rich, spoiled, 22-year-old playboy who thinks his life is perfect. Until he meets 17-year-old Anna, a rogue citizen who, as punishment for treason, is turned into a slave and sent to Jeremy as a 22nd b-day gift. From the first time they meet, there is a burning hatred. He thinks she's beneath him, therefore doesn't interact much except for giving her orders. She loathes him and tries to make everything more difficult.

This is where I become hesitant to continue. As I said, it switches between Anna and Jeremy's perspective, so I worry about how strong Jeremy comes off. The first paragraph of his POV starts off as:

They were sitting at the bar. Their skimpy miniskirts were barely covering anything, certainly not their long legs, crossed at the knees. The irony that they were sitting lady-like while wearing thin scraps of nothing. Still, I appreciated the view.

Jeremy is a d-bag. There's no questioning it. But that's exactly why I'm in love with his character. For the first half of the book, he remains this way--arrogant, spoiled, sleazy. The last half of the book, on the other hand...well, let's just say that his eyes open. The world he lives in isn't so perfect. Of course, no one would change their ways of thinking instantly. He's not going to turn into Prince Charming and sweep Anna away, but he does change. The decisions he makes, the way he speaks to people--it's all a part of a dawning realization.

But is it worth reading to get to that part. Selling a guy's POV is hard enough. Girl's relate better to girls, can put themselves in the MCs place. Right from the start, you know he's an asshole. What you don't know is if that will change. Of course, I've said it on here so everyone reading this knows he'll find some sort of redemption, if not fully, but as an unbiased reader, would you still be inclined to read a guy's POV novel KNOWING he wasn't the best of people?

It's something that's been picking at my head. I really do love Jeremy's character. He's complex, mysterious, intuitive. To plot out how he changes in his thinking and reactions is exciting to me, but I can't go through another Concealed mishap where I change everything over and over again. I'm at the point where I need to decide whether to keep this plan of having his POV included, or scrapping it before I get too far in. It doesn't affect the plot; I'll still be able to portray everything I want to, but getting into Jeremy's head would be fun.

So what would YOU think about reading a book with a d-bag main character? Input/discussion/criticism is completely welcome. I'd love to see what others think.


Kaitlin Ward said...

There are levels of d-bag sleeze for me. The paragraph you quoted enough is within the realm of what's to be expected from a 22 year old boy, in my opinion. Men are very visual, and they appreciate views. That's just how it is.

BUT when they start to be a real perv, or sexually harassing, etc, that's when my nose wrinkles and if I have a nose wrinkling moment more than once or maybe twice, I start to really dislike the character (I really do wrinkle my nose too, if I read something that disgusts me. Is this just me?)

Sleazy pickup lines, pervy jokes directed at the girl...it icks me out. When I was a teenager (well, and still) I didn't take that sort of thing from guys I wasn't already really comfortable with--and from them, only as obvious jokes. It's hard to explain what I find sleazy, but if I think I would slap a character if they acted toward me the way a (supposed) love interest acts toward a girl in a book I'm reading, then I expect her to do the same in the book.

As for being an all around kind of asshole who gets (somewhat) redeemed, well, isn't that kind of every girl's dream? Confidence is sexy, even if it borders on arrogance and/or narcissism.

That's probably enough haha. I could write a novel, though, about perv vs. asshole love interests. And why one is ok where the other is not. (And why perv=/=badboy...grr).

Long story short: If you're giving it thought, then you're probably doing it right.

Horserider said...

I'd say something, but I think Kaitlin says it way better than I ever could. A lot of guys are d-bags. He would probably have to have SOME good quality or something that gives me hope that he's not all bad, but otherwise I'd keep reading.

Leah said...

Thanks so much guys. Those were wonderful opinions.

Jeremy's character, like Kaitlin said, was a typical 22 year old guy. He isn't tossing out pick up lines or making derogative comments--he's too proper for that. He was raised with money and while he is spoiled and lazy, he's still a gentleman and treats people with respect. There wouldn't be an eventual attraction between Anna and him if he didn't have some extra qualities.

Awesome input guys :)

Tahereh said...


i don't know, i actually kind of like the idea of him finding redemption or something in the end, despite his douche-y-ness now. i love the concept of your novel, too.

i'd keep trying to move forward with it.

but maybe lose one POV. sometimes having both makes things confusing.

just my two cents :D

best of luck!!

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