Are Your Characters Likeable?

Do you find this hard to answer?

I’ve been reading Elements of Fiction Writing by Orson Scott Card and am finding it helpful. It’s an in-depth book that is giving me a lot think about.

In real life, a person might only see the best in their friends and family and ignore the flaws. This can happen in fiction too. A writer might not notice if a character is annoying, whiny, obnoxious etc. But how to you judge your own characters?

One thing I like to do is put my writing away for a while, then when I re-read the scene I ask myself: do I like this character. I’m using like broadly, in the sense of am I interested? do I want to keep reading about them?

The other question to ask is: Does the character have a motive? And what is there strongest desire?

When I meet a person, again in real life, I tend to be interested in them if they are interested in something. When a person talks about their passion, the light goes on, the eyes sparkle, the voice trembles, the tempo picks up. This is what I try to do with a character.

There is so much written on this subject, so I thought I’d mention Elements of Fiction Writing in case you’re looking for tips by an expert.

Please share your thoughts, if you know of a good book on the subject of characters.

Thanks for reading . . .

4 thoughts on “Are Your Characters Likeable?

  1. I often end up liking what I’ve written in terms of my characters, so I’ve had a few other writers take a look to see what they thought. Usually they agree with me and enjoy my characters too, but there have been a few surprises, for instance they’ve commented that my protagonists are too passive or lack motivation.
    I’ve learned a lot from their comments–most importantly that I need to be quite clear what drives my characters’ actions!

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    1. Kirsten, you bring up a good point of getting others to comment on your characters. I have on e reader who is very good a pointing out when I haven’t gotten the motivation of a character right. She usually reads an early draft and that gets me going to work harder at the character.

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  2. My problem is, if it can be called a problem is I fall in love with my characters! Not all of them are good, gorgeous, or even intelligent, but I understand them and their motivations. And, best of all, they always surprise me. Now if I could love my world-building as much a my characters:)

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    1. World-building is harder for me than character building. I usually build my characters first. Don’t know why. The hardest part is killing off a character that I like. Sometimes I even feel bad if I decide to cut their role from the book. It is having fun to fall in love with.

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