1. ianfort
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    ianfort New Member

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    Likable, not annoying!

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ianfort, Dec 17, 2009.

    I have an idea for a character that if pulled off correctly, I think could work extremely well, but could also easily end up being terrible. She is a rather eccentric, energetic female character. She's not the main protagonist, but plays a starring roll. I want her to provide some humor, but I don't want her to simply be a comic relief character. Though she may seem like this at first, as the protagonist gets to know her (he finds her to be annoying at first) and the readers learn her backstory, she becomes much more 3-dimensional.

    Now, I want this character to be likable to the reader. That is the only way this character will work. The problem is, given her nature, she could just as easily be highly annoying. While the protagonist does find her to be annoying, I want the reader to like her, while understanding why the protagonist is bothered (if that makes any sense). And above all else, I DO NOT want her to become a Mary Sue. This type of character seems like she could easily go in that direction, but I know that it can be prevented. I'm trying to think of character flaws for her. Most end up being too superficial, making her too unlikable, or both. The one that seems most appealing to me is having her be somewhat of a selfish opportunist, but even that, if not done correctly, could also end up with the stated problems, and I think that flaw alone will not suffice.

    I really need help with this character. Do you have any suggestions?
     
  2. Phantasmal Reality
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    Phantasmal Reality Contributing Member

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    No one can really "build" your characters for you. You have to spend time getting to know them. I would start writing scenes with this character in them. You'll probably end up rewriting or tossing those scenes out later, but through writing them you'll get to know your characters better. That's the best way to do it. An outline can help you get started, but real character development happens where the rubber meets the road. (Or, in this case, where the fingers meet the keys.) Take your time and I'm sure you'll end up with the balance that you're hoping for for this character. :-D
     
  3. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If she's balancing between being quirky/eccentric and annoying, then making her selfish isn't the best route for ensuring sympathy. The eccentricity is, or can be, a flaw in itself. Consider giving her a problem or goal that is easily sympathized with -- a selfless one -- this will allow you to make her much more eccentric and still likeable.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My tip would be to focus on the character as a person rather than as a collection of adjectives.
     
  5. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    ... and I'd include "likeable" among 'em. Maybe even most especially so. I think the (fiction) writer must focus on how plausible the character is in the particular story and simply trust his reader to determine whether "likeable" is apt or is not.
     
  6. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, my suggestion is BIC! Put your butt in the chair and WRITE. Stop thinking of a whole set of characteristics--she must be this, but she must not be that... Just go and write already.
     
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  7. Celereon
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    Celereon New Member

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    Hey, wow I haven't posted here in ages and it's late so forgive me if this is stupid or if it has already been posted.

    Maybe think about your protagonist, rather than this other character? If you say she's energetic and eccentric, then maybe you can portray her as likeable, but put something in your main character that just doesn't like these traits. Maybe he's the quiet brooding type, or had a bad childhood experience with a fast-talking telemarketer. Whatever the case.

    I hope that's helped somewhat.
    Cel.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A lot of it will come down to how you, the writer, feel about the character. If you like and admire her, that will tend to reveal itself in your writing. Conversely, if she is someone whom you can;t wait to kill off, your emnity will try to seep in as well.

    If you're a good enough writer, you may be able to overcome your personal feelings and write the character the way you want the reader to perceive her, but it will be an upstream swim.
     
  9. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    Wow - it sounds like you're in for a tough battle. If it helps, 95% of the time, I don't find most characters annoying, but rather funny. I think what you need to do in this case is build your story. I find that my characters develop themselves. For example, in the story I am working on, "Blase" steps up to play a leading role, though I had pegged him for more as a jock/joker.

    When you're done with the story, I sugguest you take it to several individuals and ask, "Does this work well? Does she annoy you? Do you like her? What don't you like about her?" This is usually what helps me the most. I ALWAYS want feedback on my work, because I'm just as likely to read through something and like it. Talk about a horror story! I find that feedback helps me, and I think this would most likely be the best way to go in your situation.

    Trying to keep the sarcastic remarks to a minimum is probbably the best. Even if she was witty, I would find those annoying after awhile, especially if it was by the same character.

    Good luck with your book!
     

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