The theme of a story or novel doesn’t have to be about bullies for such characters to show up. If a plot line is to have any semblance of reality, there should be bullies. Lots of bullies. Big bullies, little bullies, and barely perceptible bullies.
Bullies are not all strong, rugged or large playground types. They may be subtle egotists. They may be sly or raving paranoiacs. They may be me and you.
If you have not sensibly cut yourself off from the world in order to live in a cave, how many bullies can you count in your present life?
1. Anyone who uses a put-down to manipulate you to do something.
2. Anyone who tries hard to make you feel lesser (in skills, importance, etc.) than they.
3. Anyone who can’t remember details of your last conversation and doesn’t apologize. (This is a sophisticated put down. You are unimportant. Your arguments don’t hold water.)
4. Anyone who doesn’t think you have the right to an opinion.
5. Anyone who finds your time and efforts worthless.
Let’s think about ways people/bullies get these messages across. Off the top of my head:
1. Not seeing/recognizing you or your greeting (and not apologizing immediately thereafter):
2. Sending you cryptic notes to show how wrong, stupid or misguided you are.
3. Speaking ill about you to others.
4. All the physical stuff that hurts.
5. Words and actions that can hurt (unless you are hypersensitive). Words can be as subtle as demeaning, rather than uplifting, adjectives/verbs/nouns either to describe the victim or when talking directly to the victim. The bully will fall back on freedom of speech. Actions will always demonstrate lack of respect/consideration towards the victim, or self-aggrandizing of the bully.
To gain readers, writers need to incorporate bullies in their work.
Characters who are bullies can stop being bullies, but it takes effort. They have to want to. They need a motivation. Materialism is not a good motivation because it means the sudden kindness is selfish. True change comes from unselfish motivation. (Do you see ANY bullying technique used in the poster below?)