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Thread: Making Characters be Liked by the Readers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Graivty Falls, Oregon

    Default Making Characters be Liked by the Readers

    I didn't see a thread present for this subject, and it is a pressing matter in my current project... So, how do you make your audience sympathetic to your characters?

    I'm not going to bring up my character's specific example- not just because I'm very, VERY prone to embarrassing myself before anybody even replies, but also because I don't think it would help too much, seeing the variables I would have to reveal for y'all to properly monitor the doohicky.

    So, how might you do it? Examples are great, discussions are great- just lookin' for help and stuff. Obviously there's no one scenario that's optimal, so hopefully throwing a lot of them over and over into the air will extradite the problem. Even if that's not the proper use of extradite, but still!

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009


    Well, there's three kinds of characters, in the sense you're talking at least.

    Likable-likable characters
    Dislikable-likable characters
    Dislikable-dislikeable characters

    The first group is characters who are good in the realm of the story, and the reader likes them. Harry Potter, I guess, is a good example of this. He's a moral, good character who is in the realm of the story a likable character. But readers also like him too, even though they aren't technically interacting with him. It's pretty easy to figure out this kind of character, or at least pinpoint them in fiction.

    Dislikable-likable characters are the ones that you know you probably shouldn't like, or if you met them in real life you wouldn't like them. But you do like reading about them, and they make compelling characters. The best example of this that I can think of is Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. I cannot stand Holden and his narration, but if he weren't like that I wouldn't like him half as much as I do. Because despite the fact that I dislike him, I also like the way he's written as a character and I find his way of telling the story very interesting. If he was written as a decent guy and basically nothing like he actually is, the story would suck.

    Dislikable-dislikable characters are characters who you don't like to read about, and also don't like in the context of the story. I can't think of a good example off the top of my head at the moment. If I do, I'll come back and edit this. See, it's different than having a dislikable villain who does bad things. This is just someone you really don't want to read about. A villain can be dislikable and do bad things and still fall into the second category if well-written with decent motivations.

    It's pretty easy to make a likeable-likeable character who's sympathetic and whatnot. Just write them as a decent person with character depth and personality. It's far more fun, at least from my experience, to write a likeable-dislikable character. That's trickier, because you've got to find the right balance in their characterization. These kinds of characters are often the most fun to read about too, because they seem the most human.

    Basically, the best way to write good characters the readers like is to get invested in them, for you to start forming opinions on them. The better you know your characters, the easier it will be for the reader to get to know them too.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Pittsburgh, PA


    It depends what kind of character you're going for.

    Let's start with a basic archetype: The anti-hero. Generally, fans EAT UP the anti-hero. The hard, chiseled, take-no-prisoners, don't-play-by-the-rules "good guy" who occasionally tosses out a snide quip is always popular. You've really got to screw this character up to make fans not inherently dig him. See: Wolverine, though these characters often shine as sidekicks, secondary characters, or in other non-core-protagonist roles. That's where they get fans and get the high demand to become their own stars in subsequent works.

    For main characters, it always helps to ground your protagonist. No matter how powerful or infallible or seemingly unrelatable, if you show your protagonist struggling with every day problems (poor grades, lack of friends, family in trouble financially, struggling to find employment, unable to attract a crush's attention), the reader will instantly identify with them and want to see them succeed. See: Spider-Man; great powers, but ground by his dedication to responsibility and his real-life struggles at home, in school, and with work.

    Another good way to succeed is humor. Readers/fans love funny characters. Humor can be tough, though, because a lot of time, the "funny" character can come off as obnoxious, goofy, and abrasive. The humor needs to be mature (which doesn't mean you can't use immature or silly humor, but it needs to be handled well and realistically), and it needs to be carefully crafted and not just thrown out haphazardly (random, off-the-wall silliness can be AMAZING when well-handled, but it is easy to do wrong and just make annoying and pointless).
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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    In terms of just getting sympathy for your character, a few different things can work.

    One is first person writing. Now this will obviously be ruled out immediately if you're writing in third person, so you can skip this one if that's the case. First person writing gives readers a direct channel into the character's thoughts and emotions, and is one way to quickly develop a connection between the two.

    Another is through a relatable experience or situation. If your reader has something in common with your character, has experienced something similar, can understand the position they are in, etc., the connection will be much stronger, as will the emotion associated with what's happening.

    Last is most obvious; make your readers like your character. The above poster have outlined how to do this really well in my view, so use that. I keep talking about using the connection between reader and character, and that connection can only be developed if the characters are liked in the first place.

    Good luck!
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    SE asia, Phiippines.


    For the first respondents of this thread, they are agreeable.

    From what I know so far, If you know how to apply your characteristic traits to any of your characters, you might be able to make the readers feel closer to your characters.

    I'm gonna use some of my characters from my original story as an example found in this link (though I wanted to use my other story as an example, I don't have characters in it yet). ---> Click here

    a. Verdio Yuzura, out of all the other characters in my original novel, holds most of my introvert personalities during the story. Sure maybe you could call me a jerk for being direct to the point despite the logical sense of my heroine's problem, or the fact that I talk so much without giving others to talk back. Most likely, he's holding most of my cynical attitude and my picky nature with friends. He even holds my hobby as a writer. But he even holds my tempered nature

    b. The husband of my heroine, Lucas Tanabata, has a lot of my curious, and adventurous personality. Plus, he also had some or most of my current ways of learning things that are beyond his own understanding ... even if it doesn't make sense to him. But of course he has quite a cup of my own uncertainty and restraint (in some cases too much restraint). But importantly, Lucas reflects my much more mature side as a person. Which you could tell that the heroine of my story is quite irresponsible and sort of whiny girly.

    That's just a couple few ways of showing characters with your personality. Tricky but it has good charm to it. Unlike most writers on this forum where they got reviews about their own characters, mine almost doesn't have a review to my character. Yet ... my novel got about 6100 viewers. Which kind of tell me that I got such an appealing characters from my own observations. All of this are from personal experience

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