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Thread: Writing flawed-yet-relatable characters

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  1. #1
    MacAllister's Official Minion & Greeter AW Moderator Ari Meermans's Avatar
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    Jan 2011
    Not where you last saw me.

    Writing flawed-yet-relatable characters

    When we strive too hard to write "likable" characters we can easily tip over into too-nice-to-be-believed territory. For our characters to be believable we need to portray them each as a whole person. That means characters with faults, characters who make bad choices for the right reasons (and pay the consequences), characters whose virtues can become vices in certain situations. The goal is to write characters who are recognizable, relatable, and can evoke empathy even if they aren't what one might call "likable". Those are the characters our readers remember.

    "No More Mr. Nice Guys: How to Write Flawed Characters & Antiheroes" from Writer's Digest shows why writing fascinating and compelling characters, characters who can surprise your reader, is far more desirable than writing likable and agreeable characters.

    Not so long ago it seemed every writer agreed: Protagonists must be “likable.”

    Then something curious happened. Everyone began to realize that “likable” is merely a few degrees from “nice,” which in turn nudges perilously close to “boring.” People may not like spending 200–500 pages with a wanton wretch, but they don’t like wasting time with a Boy Scout’s shadow, either.

    In truth, protagonists need to be compelling—better yet, fascinating—not necessarily agreeable. And what makes characters compelling or fascinating is their capacity to surprise. A character who is predictably anything quickly becomes a one-trick pony, incapable of maintaining reader interest for long.
    You might want to take a look at the article if you are searching for ways to give your characters, especially your protagonist or your antagonist, some oomph to tip them from merely likable to memorable.
    Last edited by Ari Meermans; 07-11-2019 at 07:41 AM.
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