Liking Characters: Not Necessary

Jeff VanderMeer • September 14th, 2011 @ 10:35 am • Writing Tips

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.

2 Responses to “Liking Characters: Not Necessary”

  1. Steve Tem 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.

  2. Magpie Monday | Robert E. Stutts says:

    [...] ? T.N. Tobias has a thought-provoking post about writing unlikable characters in fiction. The comments are interesting, to boot. Via. [...]

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