Saturday, May 20, 2017

Show love to unsympathetic characters!

And one last time we return to Charlie Jane Anders (author of All The Birds in the Sky) and #10 of her "10 Writing "Rules" We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break"...

 

10) No “unsympathetic” characters



It’s certainly true that if you’re going to have a main character who’s a total bastard, you’re going to have work harder to win over the reader — a likable character is just obviously easier for readers to get on board with. But at the same time, feeling constrained to make your protagonist — or all your major characters — as sympathetic as possible can put a straitjacket on your writing. You’re stuck trying to create characters who will seem sympathetic to all your readers, no matter what cultural context or attitudes they bring to the story. And you’re putting severe limits on what sort of actions your characters can take. The bottom line is that “sympathetic” isn’t the same thing as “compelling” — a character can be unsympathetic but utterly fascinating and spellbinding. Like a lot of the things on this list, this is all in the execution — if you’re going to go with a protagonist who’s fundamentally unsympathetic or unrelatable, you’re going to have to do an amazing job of making the reader care about him or her in spite of everything. Steel Remains art by Vincent Chong, via Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist.
(I kept Charlie Jane Anders' link for reference)

Great,  so who is going to pay for therapeutic session for my not-so lovable, grumpy, depressed or offish characters, mmh?! Just imagine Snowwhite without the seven odd personality dwarfs?
Utterly boring! We - well I am surrounded by leagues of different people and varying personalities (God, I live in Vienna, grumpy, suffering behavior is a TRAIT here!). They make live colorful, they make life challenging, they make life fun! The disputes between the characters gain depths by their differences and as annoying as some traits may be - these are problems that can help another character grow. As Charlie Jane Anders said, as long as you make me care about that sucker, as long as I come to understand his motives and feel sorry for him, he can be as grumpy and bad-ass and annoying as he wants! To be honest as a reader, goody-goody characters are the ones I have a tendency to drown at the next river crossing if the writer hasn't killed them already. It's the "unsympathetic" who have me thinking and wondering and involve me way more (It's why I always cry for the antagonist. My heart to this day hurts for Mordred even though I want to give him a good beating before hugging him lol)