Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Likeable Characters

This post asks if your main character should be likeable.

Let me be blunt: if I don't like the characters in a story, regardless of its format, I am unlikely to consume it.  Why would I spend hours with people I don't like?  If I enjoyed that, I'd go to parties.  There are better things I could be doing with my time.

That said, my taste in characters is pretty diverse.  I don't care for flat or stupid ones.  But I like unsullied heroes, and I like antiheroes if they're written well.  I like complex characters who grow and change, who face and overcome real problems.  I don't want them to be perfect, because I enjoy seeing them struggle with their flaws.  I just don't like assholes.

Sometimes, of course, a character grows on me.  It was someone else who spotted Shiv's real damage, which got me interested, and the more I explored, the more I liked the pesky litter fucker.  And then his fan base grew from about two people, to dozens; he's now one of my most popular characters.  He's still kind of a dick, but it's easier to put up with when we know why, and he's actually making effort on a few things he cares about, such as professional development.

You can write unlikeable characters if that's what you enjoy.  Just understand that you'll be paddling upstream with many readers. 
Tags: how to, networking, writing

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