How to Write a Scoundrel in Five Steps by Christy Carlyle
Make him a renegade. Every scoundrel is, in some sense, a renegade. He does not conform to society’s rules. Whether he’s a viscount or a valet, a scoundrel doesn’t give a fig what others think of his outrageous behavior. In fact, he relishes his rebellion and the effect he has on others. To shock a virginal debutante into a blush. To send a society matron searching for her smelling salts. To make a rival livid with disdain. Those are the moments a scoundrel lives for. Even if he’s meant for ultimate redemption (and, of course, he is), a true scoundrel always starts as a rule breaker.
Infuse him with magnetism. A scoundrel must draw you, tantalize you, no matter how much of a rogue he is. A scoundrel should wield a kind of magnetism that’s impossible to deny. A magnetism based on more than his charm, handsome features, and appealing physique, though it helps if he possesses those in spades. Yet even a scarred, flawed scoundrel intrigues the most proper heroine, exuding a charisma that makes her curious enough to look beyond his reputation and bad behavior. When I think of the magnetic scoundrel, Lisa Kleypas’s Derek Craven from Dreaming of You comes to mind. From his first appearance on the page, he exerted a magnetic pull on me, as a reader, and on Sara, the story’s heroine.
Turn up the confidence. Scoundrels rarely regret their sins. At least at first. To be a true scoundrel, a man must revel in his naughtiness for a while. One of the keys to being a successful scoundrel, after all, is acquiring a terrible reputation, and it takes effort to convince everyone around you that you’re an unprincipled man. Part of a scoundrel’s appeal lies in his confidence, whether in his looks, his charm, or some skill that he performs particularly well. And, no, I’m not only thinking of talents in the bedroom. Consider Han Solo, the Star Wars scoundrel we all love. Han may have suspected Leia’s feelings for him, but he knew with absolute certainty that he was one of the best pilots in the galaxy. Confidence is sexy, and scoundrels have plenty.
Dig into his history. He may be the life of the party. Embracing every sin. Indulging every impulse. But the best scoundrels have a history that’s far less about pleasure than their lifestyle would suggest. Often there’s a wound, a trauma, some deeply buried regret that they seek to block out with hedonism and sensual gratification. He can’t escape his past, of course, no matter how much he carouses. My hero, Jasper Grey, in A Study in Scoundrels has never quite gotten past the death of his brother. His guilt is what drives him to overindulge and embrace his role as a scoundrel.
Give him a formidable challenge. Every hero is presented with a challenge. Part of the appeal of a scoundrel is that he usually faces provocation with gusto. Whether he schemes to avoid marriage, or attempts to outwit a clever heroine, a scoundrel never backs down from a dare. Challenge intrigues him, excites him. Probably because his overconfidence convinces him he’ll always emerge the victor. Of course, a challenge often alters the scoundrel in ways he doesn’t expect, especially if confrontation comes in the form of a fierce, smart, determined heroine who strips away his seductive veneer and digs deep enough to unearth the man inside.
“Dougall,” Murine moaned in protest when he broke their kiss. She tried to shift against him again, but he held her still, trying to catch his breath and regain control of himself.
“Hush,” he murmured and turned sharply toward shore, intending to get them out of the water and set her away from him. He realized what a stupid idea that was when the supporting water fell away and she, probably afraid he would drop her, tightened her legs to keep herself up. Dougall stopped walking and dropped his head to her chest with a groan as her body slid against his again.
This had really been a bad idea, he acknowledged and took a couple of deep breaths, before saying, “I’m going to set ye down, lass.”
“But I don’ wan’ ye to,” she protested. “This feels good. I like it.”
The words made his determination falter. If it weren’t for the way she slurred her words, he might have taken her there and then. However, there was a definite slur to her words. Murine was in no state to think clearly on this. He had to think for both of them, and while he’d pretty much decided he was indeed going to marry Lady Murine Carmichael and bed her well and repeatedly, he would not have her waking in the morning and accusing him of treating her like the whore her brother had tried to turn her into.
“I like it too, lass, but—”
“Then why are ye stopping? Did I do something wrong? Tell me what to do and I’ll—” Her words died on a gasp as he suddenly dropped her into the water. It was a desperate bid to save them both. She was a tasty little bundle and Dougall could not fight himself and her too.
Leaving her to flounder back to her feet in the shallow water, he moved quickly back to shore, grabbed his tartan, laid it out, and knelt to begin pleating it with his back to the water. He didn’t do more than glance over his shoulder once to be sure she got out of the water safely, but then immediately turned his full attention forward again. He would give her time to dress and then escort her back to camp . . . and then he would not allow himself to be alone with her until they reached Buchanan and were safely married. He would not have her thinking he saw her through her brother’s eyes.
A Sneek Peak at Mary Jo Putney's Upcoming Release of Once A Soldier
Here is an Exclusive Excerpt from Chasing Lady Amelia, releasing June 28th, 2016