What makes a likable character.

Second round of critiques are back. I submitted the last section of the first chapter and the first part of the second chapter. Not my preferred way of separating it since it cut into the momentum of the first chapter. I did it only because of word count restrictions.

The primary question I asked was… is the main character likable.

In hindsight, I probably would rephrase this question next time. Or possibly not even have asked it at all. This isn’t to say that no one liked the character, the response was 50/50 actually. The character is purposely written as shy, naive, introverted, and risk-adverse. She is also kind, sweet, protective, and practical. The first section of the book starts out as dismal. She is miserable and everyone around her is miserable. It is a bad place and she has a less than positive outlook.

So when I asked if they liked the character, some people responded no. She was too unhappy, too miserable, too naive. Rightfully so to some degree.

What I should have asked was can you identify with the main character? Or do you find the main character compelling? Some of the best books are written about horrible, horrible people who do horrible things. The reader isn’t going to like them. Liking the main character isn’t always the thing that will keep someone reading.

A major part of writing is having a character arc, so if the character started out as perfect, well there wouldn’t be any improving to do. That isn’t to say I won’t make changes. A little balance is good and while I might not change the character base or beginning, I will definitely make sure that her arc progresses in a way that is engaging. Even if it never becomes truly likable.

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One thought on “What makes a likable character.

  1. The likability of characters is an interesting topic. What I strive for as a writer is to create protagonists who are sympathetic, even if they aren’t necessarily likable right away. I think readers will accept unlikable characters as long they are relatable in some way.

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