Trying to make my MC more likeable
April 8, 2021 at 10:17 am #129005
So in my fantasy WIP one of my MCs, Princess Eliana (my profile picture) suffers a lot. She gets incredibly sick and almost dies.
I want my readers to feel truly sorry for her, but I don’t know how to make her more likeable and relatable.
Any tips or ideas? If you have any questions just let me know!April 8, 2021 at 11:45 am #129027Arindown (Gracie)@arindown
I love this. I feel like it’s something we all struggle with (my MC is a super moody introvert, so…😬😆).
My advice would be to pick something that Eliana struggles with…maybe missing out on life while she’s sick, or feeling like “nobody understands,” or being frustrated with God for allowing it. We can all relate to inward struggles like that when we’re going through hard times.
Let the sickness bring out both her good and bad points. Maybe she’s an optimist, and so she tries really hard to be positive about the whole thing, but eventually she just can’t stand being bed-ridden anymore, and lashes out at everyone. Or (if I’ve got the story right) she could be a really protective friend, and feel really worried and responsible for her friends who are trying to save her.
I think the key to a relatable character is making them have good qualities (courage, optimism, gentleness, a good sense of humour, etc.) that we all like in other people, and then contrasting that with a struggle that we can relate to.
I would also encourage you to watch some of Abbie Emmons. She’s on YouTube, and I would totally recommend her for 13+ or if your parents don’t mind a few cringy things here or there.😂 Her writing content is amazing though, and she’s helped me a lot with making good characters.
Hope that’s helpful!
Not all who wander are lost.April 8, 2021 at 12:00 pm #129032
That helps a ton! Thank you so much!!
Or (if I’ve got the story right) she could be a really protective friend, and feel really worried and responsible for her friends who are trying to save her.
You got the story spot on. She tries to convince her friends not to leave, but she knows that’s the only way to save her and that her friends weren’t going to change their minds. I’m honestly glad I’ve described my story well enough that you were able to pick that up with out me saying it 😀
I would also encourage you to watch some of Abbie Emmons.
I watch her all the time! At least I used to, I need to go look at her channel again. Yes, I totally agree she can be cringy at times (I really wish she would watch her language) but she has really good advice sometimes!
Thanks again for the ideas! I will definitely be using those!April 9, 2021 at 4:26 am #129247Rose@rose-colored-fancy
That’s totally a relatable struggle! For a really long time, I was worried that people wouldn’t like my MC. She’s snarky, does stupid things, jumps to conclusions, shuts people out, and will sometimes be downright mean. However, everyone still liked her. I also have another character that was supposed to be an unlikeable antagonist, but everyone picked him out as their favorite character.
Here’s some stuff I’ve discovered that play important factors:
1. Likeability. Basically, everything Arindown said. She was spot on there, so I don’t need to add much, except that a really good technique is to show other characters liking them. People will naturally follow the general opinion of someone. For example, I have a pretty unlikeable character that I’m trying to redeem, but my MC really, really hates him. So I added another POV character who’s less biased and has a lot more compassion, so you get both sides of the story.
2. Proactivity. A character that pushes the plot forward will always be more interesting and memorable. This comes into character agency, but this can fluctuate throughout the book. If a character is really giving their all to achieve a goal, we’ll want them to succeed, even if they make some questionable choices along the way.
3. Competence. Characters that know exactly what they’re doing and are skilled in a field will be easier to like or at least respect. Don’t overdo this, though. Infallible characters are just boring. But sometimes it helps to give an unlikeable character just one scene to shine, and that’ll make them more interesting and memorable.
Now, the interesting part. If you have only two of these, your character may still be likable. A character that is constantly mean and moody, but who is proactive and competent can still be likable, perhaps even more than a character who has all three. And if you have a character who can’t push the plot forward too much for some reason, if they’re likeable and competent, they won’t feel flat or boring.
4. Humor. People love characters that make them laugh, so any funny character will automatically get likeability points. But, misplaced humor can be annoying, so use with caution. Also, don’t make your villain too funny, or people will start liking him. He can do whatever horrible things needed, but if he’s funny, people won’t hate him. Now, if your goal is to create a more light-hearted book, you can mess with this a bit.
5. Save the cat. This is such a big thing that there’s a book named after it. (One of my favorite writing books, btw.) What it comes down to is that you should have your character do some nice action within the first few pages. It doesn’t have to be big, selfless, or earth-shattering, just some small, nice thing. Like saving a cat out of a tree, or helping someone pick up their groceries after they dropped them. You can also do the opposite, for villains.
The likeability/proactivity/ competence thing I got from Brandon Sanderson’s class. It’s up for free on YouTube and it covers a lot of stuff. It gave me soo many ‘aha’ moments, and it doesn’t repeat all the common writing advice. It’s definitely worth checking out! It is 8+ hours long in total, so I listened to it podcast style.
Hope this helped!
"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark." The Tale of DespereauxApril 9, 2021 at 8:52 am #129282
Thanks for all the suggestions! That actually helped a lot 🙂
I will definitely be using a lot of these for Eliana, and I my villain definitely needs some work so that helps a lot!
I’ll have to look into Brandon Sanders. 8+ hours long though… Podcast style is definitely needed 😂
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