Am I the Butt Face? How to Make and Be a Likable Character
Why Do People Suck So Much?
One of the biggest things you hear in the world of writing is to make your character likeable, which is great and all but gives you two questions:
- How. How do you make your characters likable?
- How do you make your characters likable when in real life people suck so much? There’s an entire Reddit threadcalled “Am I the A-Hole?”
We talk about the second question in our RANDOM THOUGHT in the podcast, so the writer-helpful stuff is here, now. Ready?
What Do the Bad Guys Care About?
Usually they are propelled by greed or power. In our society those things are usually indicative of a bad guy. Although, some segments of our society seem to laud those traits now.
What Do We Have to Do to Make Our Characters (or our selves) Not the Bad Guy?
People want to care about the character. You automatically think that means the character is nice, right? No.
Think about those Marvel movies. Iron Man’s kind of a jerk. Sherlock Holmes? Jerk. But we still like and care about them. Why?
Here is What You Need To Do To Make Your Character Not an Butt Face
The character has a big want and/or need.
Iron Man wants to save the world.
Sherlock Holmes needs to catch a murderer.
We connect with that because we all have wants or needs.
I want to make $5,000 a month. This possibly make me a bad guy because that seems to be about money BUT if I want to make $5,000 a month so that I can pay for my child with autism’s medicines? Not quite so awful, right? It’s all in the presentation and the reason.
Conflicting Wants are What Really Makes It Pop
When our character wants to save the world, but saving the world mean that he must sacrifice his entire business that he’s worked so hard to build up? That’s when our interest is super EXCITED. We’re all – Oh. Snap. What will he choose? What would I choose?
Caring About Others Who Are More Vulnerable
This is the big one, really.
In the Star Wars movies, Rey is super snarky with the little droid when we first meet her, but then she refuses to sell that little droid baby for scrap money and protects it. Bing. We love this resilient go-getter named Rey who now has conflicting wants of her own survival (needs money) and protecting the droid (probably going to cost her money and her life).
So, we care about Rey because she cares. She has empathy.
What are the characteristics people admire in others?
Give your character one of those if you can.
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.
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