Saturday, April 16, 2011

Main Characters - A-Z Blogging Challenge

Ah, main characters. A good one makes the book, a bad one ruins it.

And secondary characters are easier. Not that we should all dash around creating a two-dimensional, wise-cracking supporting cast, but when you don't have to probe someone's motives as much, it is easier to like them.

Main characters are nastier.

The main character in my current WIP is a fairly nice and fairly normal girl in her late twenties who fell backwards into a life-absorbing career, which she is pursuing to the detriment of everything else in her life. Sometimes I want to shake her, because we've all had that neglectful friend who doesn't bother calling for months but shows up when she needs someone, or when it is understood that you See Friends (birthdays, New Years', etc). My MC even has a little rant about this at one point, not seeing her own hypocrisy.

The main secondary character is her journo flatmate. Who would also drive me a bit nuts in real life. But I'm not spending as much time looking at her flaws, so she is much more likeable in the text.

How do we solve this and keep our MCs likeable?

I have no sodding idea. I find liking them myself helps. And I am trying to keep her active - so she is dealing with her own choices, rather than just reacting to external factors. Also, this where Beta readers really come into their own.


  1. Falling in love with one's mc is very helpful!!

    Yay for invaluable Beta readers!!!

    Take care

  2. I think the trick with an MC that's got unlikeable traits is to introduce them slowly, in a perspective that the reader can understand and empathise with. If you do it right, the reader won't even realise that the traits are negative until it's revealed to the MC.

    The other route to take is to be open with the MC's negative traits, but make the problems the MC faces disproportionate to their failings, so the reader won't feel like they truly deserve it.

    Or you could take a leaf from Helen Fielding and create a darkly voyeuristic comedy out of your MC, letting the reader take amusement from the easily avoidable situations her flaws get her into.

  3. Paul, I like your thoughts on that, particularly the first part.

    Yes, helping our MC really helps us get them, empathize with them, even if they are deeply flawed.


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