Likeable Vs Realistic Characters.


This post was inspired by the brilliant and talented Adele Sullivan (writer and also my Champion) 🙂

With starting a new project, she was concerned about the characters not being likeable which got me thinking.

Is it important to have likeable characters in your novels or is it more important that they are realistic?

I like to think that my characters are likeable, I’m sure every writer likes to think this too, but at some point in a novel comes when a character may have to betray a friend in order to reach their goal. Which could make them a pretty horrible person.

The current character in my sequel novel sees one of my female protagonists work with a group of criminals who torture and punish her for her demeanour. This is how she discovers the body of her friend. Her friend somehow bewitches her and promises her that she can put wrongs to right.

Helping her though, would mean betraying one of her best friend’s. 

Maybe her situation is sympathetic.  Maybe you might be screaming at her not to do it. But importantly what are her reasons?

Well, those I cannot disclose to you as doing so would be spoiling the entire plot line and would give it away.

Writing Young Adult Fiction, it is a struggle to get the balance right. I, like any other writer out there, wants their characters to be likeable but I also have to think ‘would young adults perceive this as realistic to their circumstances? Would they be able to relate to it substantially?’ If the answer is yes, then I’m on the right track. If it’s a no, then I have to have a rethink.

My answer to this question is that the likeability of characters often comes from their struggles and how they choose to leap over that obstacle. Readers can find them admirable or damn right stupid but whatever they may think they will still read. They’ll read because they’ll not be able to look away. I’m not talking about all readers, but some. And that is the purpose of writing. To tell a story, and for people to listen. What good is a story if nobody listens?

What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments below.