In a recent blog, I touched upon the problem of unlikeable characters. I mentioned that I stopped reading a published book because I didn’t like any of the characters. So when do I think a reader will keep reading about unlikeable characters? I’d say one or more of the following will save a story:
1.) The protagonist has been victimized and the reader can root for her to overcome being a victim.
2.) The unlikeable character will grow and be redeemed.
3.) The reader can enjoy seeing an unlikeable character get a comeuppance. This may be wish fulfillment if the unlikeable character reminds the reader of a real-life counterpart.
4.) The unlikeable character can make mistakes and the reader can see the bad consequences, thereby teaching the reader or confirming the reader’s suspicions and/or values.
5.) The plot makes the fact of a group of unlikeable characters necessary.
6.) The plot is so intriguing, and/or answers a question so urgent, that the characters are just players swept up in the circumstances so their personalities are actually less important than the plot.
One or more of these factors just might make me a fan!
Have you read books with any of these scenarios?
What villain did you learn from?
What victim did you enjoy rooting for?