Liking Characters: Not Necessary

Good post here by T.N. Tobias about likeable/unlikeable characters. I commented there, with this:

I would add that HH is trying in writing to make himself seem likeable and that Nabokov further does the seemingly impossible in the novel by making Lolita a real person despite HH’s distortion, which is an act of deep characterization. I don’t need or entirely want likeable characters, nor do I need them to share my belief systems. I do not need them to be an echo chamber and I am suspicious of readers who do need this because I think such readers tend to misread books—sometimes very badly misreading books…Readers who place value judgments on writers based on their characters—generally a huge mistake—are also more likely to be the ones who require likeable characters as well.


  1. says

    I couldn’t agree more strongly. This need for likable characters pushed so fiercely by so many writing instructors, and too many editors and publishers, has lead many a new author away from authenticity in fiction, and from just listening to their characters and allowing them to reveal who they are. I think it’s one of the biggest misconceptions out there about how fiction works.