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Old 09-16-2015, 02:51 PM
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Default Does your protagonist...


...always have to be likeable? Whilst I am trying to think up new stories, my main character always seems to be the villain! Is this wrong as it always seems to stick in my mind that the mc should be likeable?

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Old 09-16-2015, 04:08 PM
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No, of course not. Your main character drives the story. He/she is the person around which the story revolves, but they can be anything from soft, fluffy, and lovable, to an evil serial killer/rapist telling their own story.
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Old 09-16-2015, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
No, of course not. Your main character drives the story. He/she is the person around which the story revolves, but they can be anything from soft, fluffy, and lovable, to an evil serial killer/rapist telling their own story.
Okay thanks Brian. It's only that I always seem to hear people need to identify with and 'like' your main character.
Good job though as mine never seem to be 'good'
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Old 09-16-2015, 04:44 PM
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Oh some of us are quite capable of identifying with what others determine as villian.

Are you familiar with a fellow name of Frank Castle?
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Old 09-17-2015, 02:41 AM
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Ah the Punisher Nick?

Nah I wasn't familier but I've just googled him, and whilst I see what you mean that he's a likeable bad guy, doesn't he actually only fight organised crime? This kind of makes him a good guy, who we all root for in the end doesn't it?
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Old 09-17-2015, 04:16 AM
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Some of my favorite novels have unlikable protagonists: Portnoy's Complaint, Revolutionary Road, A Confederacy of Dunces.

I think most of us have character flaws, even if we manage to keep them in check. So you might not like a character, but that doesn't mean you can't relate to him or her on some level, or even imagine you might act like that if your circumstances were different. And I'm not really talking about serial killers so much as characters who aren't very nice people.

If you read the reader reviews for a book like Portnoy's Complaint, there will always be a few people who say they hated the book because the protagonist was a jerk etc. They're just locked into the notion that the protagonist has to be likable, that they can "root" for him etc. You can't worry about them.

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Old 09-17-2015, 06:58 AM
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Some people like it, some people don't. I know people who wouldn't read a book starring someone they don't like, others would be more gravitated towards the villain idea.

Honestly, it is possible to do anything with your novel, even if it breaks some of the norms - hell, some of my favourite authors went out of their way to rid their works of the typical conventions of writing.

As John Hawkes - a cherished writer in some circles - once said:

“I began to write fiction on the assumption that the true enemies of the novel were plot, character, setting and theme, and having once abandoned these familiar ways of thinking about fiction, totality of vision or structure was really all that remained.”
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Old 09-17-2015, 08:07 AM
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i don't think you have to like a character, but you should be able to relate to him or empathise.
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Old 09-17-2015, 02:50 PM
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I agree with Checker. Main characters, protagonists, whatever term you wish to apply to them are their author's access portals to the universe they exist in. While an author can construct an artificial portal painstakingly forcing the story to a desired end. The reader, I think will struggle as much as the author to get into the story. And I never tried to follow the "rules of writing" either. I just write what I see occurring in the story. There is an audience for every genre. Including one that focuses on villains. In fact focusing on villains seems to be a modern trend. Or at least the darker side of life. Fringe and The Following come to mind. So be true to yourself. The sooner you stop trying to be an author and start telling your stories through a keyboard the better your writing will be. And the more naturally it'll flow.

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Old 09-17-2015, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by BluebellCharm View Post
Ah the Punisher Nick?

Nah I wasn't familier but I've just googled him, and whilst I see what you mean that he's a likeable bad guy, doesn't he actually only fight organised crime? This kind of makes him a good guy, who we all root for in the end doesn't it?
If you are organised crime he is not a good guy.

And if you are law and order he is a bad guy because he acts as a vigilante.

However, I understand your frame of reference.
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Old 09-22-2015, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by brianpatrick View Post
No, of course not. Your main character drives the story. He/she is the person around which the story revolves, but they can be anything from soft, fluffy, and lovable, to an evil serial killer/rapist telling their own story.
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by BluebellCharm View Post
...always have to be likeable? Whilst I am trying to think up new stories, my main character always seems to be the villain! Is this wrong as it always seems to stick in my mind that the mc should be likeable?
What's likeable?

Is Tony Soprano likeable? Why? Why not?
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Old 12-15-2015, 02:44 AM
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Originally Posted by BluebellCharm View Post
...always have to be likeable? Whilst I am trying to think up new stories, my main character always seems to be the villain! Is this wrong as it always seems to stick in my mind that the mc should be likeable?
You should read Speed Queen. The main character is on death row for murder and she's telling her story to a novelist. Good stuff.
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Old 12-23-2015, 02:22 PM
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I liked how much I hated Joffrey (Game of Thrones)...
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Old 12-24-2015, 09:29 AM
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Howdy Charm. How be thee?

I think it's a mistake to paint a character as 'all evil' since real humans have a mix of good and bad. Doing so would be like watching a character killing and eating a child. There may be a sick interest but there is no empathy for the character.

I've often designed 'bad' characters but I always gave them some redeeming qualities so they can be more like real people.

There are a great deal of MCs who, at first, seem unredeemable, but who have traits to admire in the end.

If you want to evoke empathy in most readers you need a way for the reader to do so. If you haven't read it, check out "In Cold Blood" as a good example. There are many examples of this but my mind refuses to give me what I want...(lol)

Maybe your MCs aren't as bad as you think?

Keep growing and writing. Keep it coming.

Have a nice writing day.
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Old 10-17-2016, 02:43 AM
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Protagonist in a story I wrote and shared with my friend was very unlikable. He was too melancholic, always frightened, seeing this world only in black and white. And I thought that my friend won't enjoy the story because of it but she read it and really liked it because of a story itself.
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Old 10-24-2016, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by BluebellCharm View Post
...always have to be likeable? Whilst I am trying to think up new stories, my main character always seems to be the villain! Is this wrong as it always seems to stick in my mind that the mc should be likeable?
No.

But sometimes a lot of effort does go into making them so - Tony Soprano comes to mind; always doing it for his family.
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