How to make your characters likable?

Or…

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?

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How to make a character more real to a reader

Now that you’ve decided on a terrific name for your characters, what next?

Real or imagined. Memoir or fiction. Doesn’t matter. Same rules apply.

Turn flat into fabulous!

 

The characters must come alive in a manuscript and jump from the page into a reader’s heart. If not, they stop reading.

So how do we go about breathing life into these flawed creatures?

  • Each character must have a defining description. Something unique to them.
  • Make comparisons and/or contrasts with another character. Plain Jane is best friends with Fanny Fashionista.
  • Give them something to collect, obsess over, or talent.
  • Everyone has a pet peeve, even a small one. Don’t leave it out of the story.
  • What’s in her purse, pocket, car, closet? What will she not leave home without?
  • Don’t forget her diary, journal or the divorce decree. Search out and include legal and private documents.
  • How does your character talk? Texas twang, Southern drawl, up North clip, curse, spray, slur, or tick put it in the story.
  • Look at pictures and fill in the blanks. Memoir pictures help us a lot but so do artwork for fiction. Think about it.
  • Rich, poor, political, religious, serious, hateful, jealous, and what else influenced them.
  • And don’t forget those life-changing events. Marriage, birth, death, divorce, job new/lost, love, heartbreak, sickness, etc.

My list is just a taste of a great article written by Shuly X. Cawood on Brevity.

Make Your Memoir’s “Characters”—Yes, Those Real Ones—More Real to the Reader By Shuly X. Cawood

Click and read her post to get much more details on giving life to your characters, real or imagined.

Did these tips help you?

Do you have a trick to add?

Do you have difficulty breathing life into your characters?

Do you think it’s easier to flesh out memoir characters or fiction?

Want more!

Keep reading…

One-dimensional Characters in Literature

Writing Remedy: How to Breathe Life Into One-Dimensional Characters

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How to write a good one-sentence pitch

Don’t you just love how-to writing instructions?

I know I do!

You must admit, DIY is a lot easier with a little help from friends.

Working Men cartoon characters Jeanswriting.com

That’s why I absolutely love an article from Karen Cioffi and Writers On The Move!

I admit, writing a one-sentence pitch is hard and something I’ve yet to completely agree. But I keep working on it. That’s why I was so excited to read this easy explanation of what does and does not work. And why!

When selecting a book to read, the first thing I read is the pitch. If that is too confusing or convoluted I pass. Why? Because that pitch is a good indicator the story inside will be more of the same.

Karen gives examples of how and how not to write a pitch/logline for your book. She explains why one is so important and even gives us a formula. I just love formulas.

Be sure and click on the link below and write your one-sentence pitch.

The One Sentence Pitch for Your Manuscript

Got it?

What did you think?

Did her tips help you write a better pitch?

Now you show me yours and I’ll show you mine. Ha Ha.Me Bitmoji Tee hee Jean M Cogdell

All kidding aside, share your pitch in the comments I’d love to read it.

Here is a one-sentence pitch/logline for my WIP.  Here goes… Me Bitmoji Gulp Jean M Cogdell

An aspiring author is thrilled when she meets a literary agent and mystery buff who agrees to become her mentor; thrills turn to chills when the agent shares a story plot about two women who get away with murder – a fictional plot, the agent plans to become a reality with the writers help.

What do you think? Be gentle, I bruise easily.

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