Can not liking one of your characters be stalling your story?
I’d never really thought about that question until one of my students e-mailed me and said she felt it was the reason that her writing output was down.
There’s no easy or right, yes or no, response.
While I do think you need to love your main character like you would a good friend. After all, you’re going to be spending lots of time together. Secondary ones, and the bad guys, well they’re bad for a reason right?
Maybe you’ve given them some quality you hate in real people. For example, the character lies all the time. Subconsciously, you give the bad guy that trait too and as you begin to write, that dislike starts to get to you, making your blood boil and all of a sudden bam, you hate them just like a real life person. Maybe they remind you of someone you once knew…they say writing is a lot like going into therapy and sometimes these dislikes bring up feelings we never knew we had.
Don’t be too hard on yourself…it’s a sign you’re doing a great job with making the character real. And don’t be too hard on the character either. They’re your vehicle for taking this story up a notch or two.
One thing, I will advise against is making the bad person all bad. I also advise against making the main character perfect.
Our main goal as writers is to make these characters real. The reader has to believe this person really exists. Do you honestly know someone who’s 100 percent perfect? I don’t. I’m not perfect, none of us are so your character needs flaws, like always being late, or always taking the last of the burgers at the BBQ.
Don’t worry if you’re not 100 percent in love with the bad guy or a secondary character. Think of it as your way of writing a great story and write on.