Have you ever had that feeling? Someone you love dearly (sibling, parent or significant other) pisses you off so damn much that you want to poke them in the eye with a stubby pencil? If you say you haven’t, I won’t believe you. :p
I certainly have. In fact, I said this to my ex (or something very similar) during one of our fights (not that we had many, by the way, but when we did, we really did). He looked at me like I’d grown six extra heads. He just didn’t get it. And nothing I said could make him understand.
I didn’t – and still don’t – see what’s so hard about the concept. You can’t like somebody all the time, no matter how much you love them. It’s not possible. Sometimes they upset you or hurt you, or disappoint you. It isn’t all sunshine and roses, no matter who it is.
This has come up because I’m remembering some of the comments from a critique I received of SORB’s opening chapter. One of the comments was that Ileandra was not a very likeable character. I put the critique to one side and left it, allowing the comments to simmer in my mind. My back brain is getting very good at working on things while my front brain counts nappies, wipes up runny poo and keeps track of which of my boys tried to eat the squashed butterfly he found under the rug.
Today, I finally let my back brain talk to my front brain so they could discuss the comments I received. I’ve not been through all of them yet, but this comment stuck out for me like… well like a big sticky-out thing.
Ileandra isn’t likeable.
I bloody well hope not! I went through a lot of trouble while rewriting to ensure that in the opening chapters of the book Ileandra is seen as petty, shallow and self-centred.
Why? Because I don’t believe that every main character should be likeable. They should be interesting and you should be able to relate to them, but likeable? That’s not essential.
Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s Gormanghast certainly isn’t a likeable character, but he is one of, if not the main character of the first two books in the trilogy (look it up if you haven’t read it; they are amazing books). His exploits throughout the story are a terrible blend of tragic, horrific and downright savage, but he is the main character. And he holds my attention. He is interesting. I can relate to him on some level because, despite being utterly maniacal, he’s not a cardboard cut-out. He has thoughts and feelings that make sense and that can produce empathy in a reader. They certainly did in me. But I didn’t like him.
With Ileandra, the effect I’m looking for is slightly different. I want her to be a character that you understand, but dislike. I want the reader to want her to struggle, because, for the most part she deserves it. She floats through half the story getting her own way, having a whale of a time until, with a snap, it all gets very real. She is forced to change. Fast. She has to let go of the selfishness, growth some depth and make sacrifices just to survive. I want her to go on a full journey and earn your like. If, by the end of SORB, you still don’t like her, then there are two more books for her to win you over. I want her to really work for it because there are, to my mind, too many characters that are cute and fluffy and kind and gentle and winsome. And I’m bored of it. I’m tired of reading about them. I want to read about someone forcibly taught that life is hard and that to get what you want, you have to earn it. Maybe I’m just reading the wrong books, but the thought of being able to send that message through the course of a vampire story is just too delicious. I had to try it.
Hmm. I think that means I’m ready to start working on it again.
Do you guys think all main characters should be likeable? What is it about a main character that keeps you turning the pages?
I love hearing from you and talking to you so this time, I thought I’d offer a little encouragement. An incentive….Last week, Raven mentioned the upcoming release of the first story in the Meeting Each Other series. This week I can tell you that the first story in this series is named Vicki & Lara and that I’m offering free copies to four lucky people, which I will send to them the day before the ebook is released. If you want to be in with a chance to win a free copy of my first ebook, then all you need do is leave a comment below, or on any post I publish between now and September 27. I’ll add your name into a virtual hat every time you do and, on September 26 I’ll draw out four names. These four names will receive free copies of the Meeting Each Other: Vicki & Lara ebook in a format to suit their preferred e-reader (ie .mobi or.epub).
Don’t ever say I don’t give you anything. :p
So what are you waiting for? Get commenting. ^_^