How do you know if your character is likeable? #writetip Or at least sympathetic, or interesting, or has some characteristic that will keep your readers reading?
When I started writing, I couldn’t figure this out. Then I discovered it’s easier to tell if a character is unlikable or uninteresting. I started to look, and I mean seriously look, at books where I couldn’t connect with a character.
Things that bother me:
- A character who’s having a pity party for one for tooooooo long.
- A character that does nothing but whine.
- A character that is all evil – really there has to be something more than evil.
To me, a character who has a likeable trait, any trait, makes them sympathetic.
Maybe they have a kind streak. Say the character is about to commit a crime, or has just committed a crime, and they stop and help a dog that’s been hit by a car and it lying at the side of the road. That might make me cheer for their escape – depending on the crime of course.
Maybe they put something or someone ahead of their own desires.
Maybe they have a sense of humour.
But mostly, they need to care about something. If they don’t care about anything, how can I care about them? And if I don’t care, why would I keep reading?
4 thoughts on “Likeable Characters?”
You said it. If I can’t care about them, I’m not really interested in them.
You said it, Kristina. If I don’t find anything to like about them, I certainly can’t care about them. The most interesting antagonists are those with a good mix of positive and negative traits.
I would have agreed with you 100% before I read Lolita a couple of months ago. There is absolutely nothing likable or redeemable about Humbert Humbert yet I finished the book. Even though in the first couple of pages we know what happens to Humbert in the end. I’ve wondered about this before, why did I keep reading that awful book? I think there are 3 reasons 1-I wanted to see if there was any punishment for Humbert, 2-I wanted to see how things turned out for Dolores Haze and 3-the book’s reputation (well-written, but over-rated in my opinion simply due to the sensational subject matter).
I agree with you though, 99.999% of the time.
Jan, Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting to see why a reader would finish a book under these circumstances. Way to be persistent.