Likeable Characters are Bad

Nobody admires likeable characters. They probably think they do and may believe they do, but they don’t. Going back a few decades, Fawlty Towers star John Cleese, playing Basil Fawlty was an excellent protagonist because he was not likeable. What he did was try very hard to be the worst hotel manager in the world. This nastiness is why everyone likes him even though he is evil. What readers admire are characters that make mistakes, characters that think fast and think wrongly flawed characters, but likeable characters. Likeable is very boring. A lot of crime novels are scattered with bitches, erratic men, doubtful women and double-crossing scoundrels. Given the problematic nature of the characters that populate a crime novel, the question is how do you captivate the hearts of the reader and keep them interested to the end of the book?
The answer is empathy.
Here are a couple of ways to create empathy:
1. Make the protagonist have a funny side.
2. Make the protagonist a victim of something personal.
3. Show the protagonist in a quandary about something central.
4. Show the protagonist being highly skilful at what they do.
5. Show the protagonist being selfless and putting their client first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s