Crafting The Unlikable Character.
The unlikeable protagonist is nothing new in fiction from Humbert in Lolita to Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. What makes a character unlikeable? It could be because of their motivates or their self-destructive nature or the actions they make. Think of them as someone you don’t want to invite to the dinner party. Bottom line, this is not someone you want to spend time with.
As a writer who writes thrillers, I don’t believe a character has to be “likable” especially in this genre. The genre is important if you planning to write romance or fantasy some of the characters or the main character needs to have likable qualities. In thrillers, it’s not necessarily the case, as a reader, I enjoy reading about unlikable characters. It doesn’t mean I like them, sometimes I relate to how they think but as a writer, understanding them is essential.
Here a few tips on how to craft the unlikeable character
Having a character whose destructive and hurt people for no reason because that’s how they operate, they are not going to come across as realistic. We all do stupid things and make bad life decisions that define us, your character shouldn’t be any different. Your characters have to be based on real people. They have to jump out of the page. Know the character motivates if you don’t establish them, explain why your character is doing what he or she is doing better to do this on the first page. I’m not saying you info dump but drop snippets here and there so the reader can follow through and understand why your character did what he or she did.
Let them redeem themselves
If your character is selfish and only cares for him or herself give them something that works opposite of that. A negative and a positive. Example, if their professional life is falling apart they are planning something to get out of it which wouldn’t be the right choice, make them go home and be amazing parent, girlfriend or boyfriend. If you thinking how the how is the factor you have to work on.
Give them the friend that understand them.
Having a character who is the friend of your unlikeable character is a great way to show to the reader that someone understands from where he or she are coming from. The friend can expose the issues of the unlikeable character. If your character has no redeemable qualities, this will help examine the problems of the unlikeable character.
Happy writing and Reading