No, not the anatomical ones we all have, but the metaphorical asshole. I just submitted Turbulence to my publisher, and the main character truly is an asshole. Jacqs is gruff, unforgiving, and very likely to assume the worst of others. I think he also has redeeming qualities, but your miles may vary on that. He certainly is a little… um… rough around the edges. Jayne from Firefly inspired him, so he would have to be.
Reading the reviews, I have to wonder why some love watching Jacqs annoy the rest of the crew and others hate him.
God knows that there are real asses on television I love to watch. I adored Gregory House the first few seasons, and he makes no apologies for his lack of social skills. I also have an unabashed adoration for Jayne. Yes, he’s got a crusty outside, but every so often, you see hints of a softer, kinder man underneath.
The Huffington Post even has a whole writeup on TV’s biggest A-holes.
But I think these giant buttfaces need to have some sort of redeeming quality. With Jacqs, I tried to show right up front that he won’t stand for bullies. He stands up for what he believes, although he often does it in the worst possible way.
Jayne was an even larger ass, but he had this loyalty to Mal that made him follow his captain into Reever space (even while bitterly complaining about it). House saved people, and every once in a while you got a flash of emotion that made you think maybe he even cared about those people he saved.
Story Addict suggests that assholes need to have some trait that balances out those more negative qualities. They add Bella and Katniss to that list of annoying characters. However, they claim that “the important thing is that the character doesn’t bore you or have absolutely no redeeming qualities.”
I think Jacqs has that balance, particularly in the longer story. He is very protective of Zeke and loyal to a fault. However, looking at some of these links, I have to admit that I have other assholes sitting on my hard drive.
Myles Borodinskii is a former fashion model who now runs his own mega-corporation including magazines, fashion, and appearances on television reality shows. He also has someone trying to kill him, but his arrogance leaves him refusing to take the threat seriously. He calls a military-trained bodyguard “sweetheart” and makes fun of how he looks. He uses humiliation as a weapon at virtually every turn.
But he also adores his Russian grandmother who has a sharper tongue than he does, and he viciously protective of those he sees as his own, going so far as to hire a bodyguard for a low-level employee.
But honestly, Asymmetrical is stalled because it’s hard to write Myles. I think one of the reasons this prompt with Jayne appealed to me was because I was struggling with Myles and writing that asshole archetype.
A long-suffering hero like Miguel from Urban Shaman or the classic good guy like Charleston from Gathering Storm or even the bratty hero who hides his strength like Ferro in “Shepherd, Slave and Vow” are all easy to write.
Jacqs wasn’t, although I had Jayne to use as a template.
Myles is even harder.
Maybe I’ll wait a while before I try to dig back into this particular character type.