How to make your characters likable?


Is it necessary that every character be likable?

Faceless woman

Need all characters be —

pleasant, nice friendly, agreeable, affable, amiable, genial, personable, charming, popular, good-natured, engaging, appealing endearing convivial, congenial, simpatico, winning, delightful, enchanting, lovable, adorable, sweet, or lovely?

Recently, I just finished a book but didn’t like a single character. However, I did want the main character to succeed. This strange and bizarre book kept me captivated.

So, back to my first question, is it necessary for any or all characters to be liked by the reader?

Faces in a puzzle

This is an issue I’m struggling with right now. In my current WIP, I’m not sure my main character is likable. I want people to like her, emphasize with her and pull for her, but I don’t want her to come off whinny. I hate whining. Even in real life.

How do we accomplish giving characters qualities that a reader can relate to, but still see their faults?

And does every character need to have likable attributes? What about the bad guys? Do they need a few redeeming characteristics? 

See I have lots of questions and only a few answers. So jump right in and help a writer out in the comments.

Okay, here’s what I’ve figured out so far.

  • Likability means a reader “likes” watching a character. Hmm…
  • Interesting and entertaining can attract a reader too.
  • If I understand what makes a character tick, it’s easier for a reader to relate.
  • No one is perfect, even the good guys. Show their flaws.
  • Avoid a “too good” character. No one likes a goody-two-shoes.
  • A kind-hearted act can make a character seem loveable.
  • A tragic backstory will make a reader root for the character.
  • Let the reader see a character’s vulnerability.
  • A sense of humor can go a long ways toward likable.
  • Avoid making a character “too bad.” Readers want to believe everyone has some redeeming qualities.
  • The name must fit the character.

And one last question…

Do you write the likable characteristics of a character in the first draft, Or do you add those traits in the second draft?

Want to read great articles on fleshing out a character? Then click and read.

Make your characters L.I.E.

10 Methods to Make Your Character Likable 

What Makes a Character Likable?




10 thoughts on “How to make your characters likable?

  1. Protagonists require at least one antagonist in my books. In my coming-of-age memoir, the protagonist is faced with a character who disputes her passage. Even though he is abusive, readers see him in a scene calming the bees in his hive and transmitting his love for music to his daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

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