Readers find stories about bad girls fascinating because females are supposed to abide by a centuries-old moral code. Not so long ago, society dictated that a handsome man looking for a wife, couldn’t sit with a female unless he got permission from her parents, and they approved of him. Still, she would not be able to go to a movie with him unless chaperoned. This still happens in some countries where the female lives with her parents under their strict moral codes until she’s married.
Even now, women are pigeonholed by society to be the homemakers, the nurturers who soothe crying babies, and the compassionate ones who care for the sick and elderly. They bring home stray cats and dogs, too. Now, however, women also bring home the bacon. How can she be expected to fulfill all these roles and have the wherewithal to be a pillar of society? This is why mesmerizing story ideas to write about often come from role revision.
Women’s roles change because they are experiencing more freedom and more temptations just as men do. What does the married woman do when she works with a guy willing to give her all the affection she’s ever dreamed of? Sometimes the temptation is too great to walk away from, and since the moral codes have become lax in some countries, she might be headed for an extramarital affair while society looks the other way.
The bad girl and the female villain share similarities, but the villain elevates the bad girl to new heights. The bad girl persona denotes rebellion. She is a nonconformist who sweeps aside the rules of society to some degree and thumbs her nose at moral traditions. She was that girl in high school who stood out. Even though she might not have been unscrupulous, she was edgy enough that her antics drew her unfavorable attention.
The villain, though, embodies an evil streak where she harms others, sometimes to the point of murder, through her deviant acts. She opposes the hero. Her persona is one where complexity meets wickedness, and where she is unapologetically cruel. Let’s read more about her here:
These characters' childhoods were generally troubled. They had often experienced neglect, psychological and physical abuse, and other traumas. As a result, they act out in different ways as Morrell points out.
Women villains may be more dangerous than men villains in the sense that they do the unexpected. People often still see women in traditional roles, and the female villain catches them off guard.
Morrell says that “. . . if you create a female villain who is black-hearted and has an agenda, your other characters best run for cover. When female power is raw, unleashed, and furious, it is a thing to fear. So make certain that your villain character is an alpha female with special talents and loads of ambition . . .” (229).
Now that we have story ideas to write about, that is, the bad girl and the female villain, know that female villains are sociopaths and psychopaths, two types of anti-social personalities. If the sociopath has a twinge of conscience, she’ll suppress it. A psychopath has no twinge of conscience, and she’s more conniving. Here are some categories and examples of female villains:
The Avenger is a wronged woman who draws from a deep reservoir of rage. She seeks justice or revenge, but her actions are over the top. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a sterling example of a relentless avenger. She is also a lost soul for which I wrote an article. So characters can fit in more than one category. In other words, they don’t always stay where you assign them. They can be all over the place.
The Control Freak is the woman in charge who craves control over others. And she will go to great lengths to make sure she does. Annie Wilkes, the antagonist from Misery, is one from which you will need to run. In the story, she temporarily controls the life of an invalid writer in her care, including how he should write his novel. She’s heartless and relentless. And she has a gun!
The Diva feels the world owes her something. She’s arrogant, vain, and ambitious. To secure what she feels is her rightful place, she manipulates others to the point of causing them pain. Ursula is a conniving sea witch in the 1989 Disney film The Little Mermaid.
The Scorned Woman is out for vengeance when her vision of romance or loyalty is not reciprocated by another. The movie Single White Female is an example. Jennifer Jason Leigh’s character is jealous of her roommate who has a solid love relationship and a successful business. When the roommate decides to move in with her boyfriend, Leigh’s character becomes unhinged, and although there is no romance between the two women, Leigh's character cannot handle the rejection and goes on a murderous rampage.
The Mommy Dearest is simply a bad mother who harms her children whether on a physical, emotional, or psychological level. One chilling real-life example is Susan Smith who was the mother of two young boys. In 1994, feeling that they were getting in the way of her new romance, she pushed her car with the boys seat-belted in the back, into a lake where they drowned. Smith is eligible for parole in 2024.
The Slut/Sexual Predator uses her sexual prowess for manipulation and harm. A real-life villain named Aileen Wuornos is considered to be America’s first female serial killer. She was a highway prostitute who shot, killed, and robbed seven men in Florida during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. She stated that she killed them in self-defense, but the police didn’t believe her due to the video they recovered. She was found guilty, placed on death row, and was executed by lethal injection in 2002. You may have seen this predator in the Academy Award-winning movie Monster.
The Femme Fatale is a seductive character whose hallmark is luring men into their well-spun web, one that often leads to their deaths. Amy Dunne from Gone Girl does exactly this. Her allure is a strong cover for her diabolical escapades.
Masterfully weaving these types of characters in the story ideas to write about category, will provide excellent fodder for the next story you may want to write regarding the bad girl or the bad girl turned villain. In your fascinating dark tale, you could show how femininity can be weaponized in the strongest sense of the word.
As you continue to explore the bad girl and the female villain, it will lead you deeper into the unchartered depths of the human psyche. It will cause an uneasiness within you that you can’t shake off, knowing these people walk among us. To write about them, a part of you must become like them. You must enter their world, and become linked souls for a short time; maybe inevitably.
What more could you want that will give you story ideas to write about?
Images created with Dream by Wombo and are only examples of women in these categories. They do not intend to present a likeness of the women mentioned.