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  1. ESchwartz
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    ESchwartz New Member

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    Lines to make a protagonist likable?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ESchwartz, Mar 6, 2011.

    In my play, my protagonist excels in most areas of life, but has two fatal flaws: arrogance and hypocrisy. The opening line establishes his hypocrisy and foreshadows later events, but I fear that, based on first impressions, the audience would root against him rather than for him, and won't be hoping for the transformation which he makes. All I need to do is add one sentence that will make him likable. What's something he could say that people could relate to, but wouldn't make him much less of a hypocrite?
     
  2. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Let him Pet The Dog.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know what line would make him more likable, but I'd say that excelling in most areas of life is likely to make him _less_ likable, unless I misunderstand what you mean.
     
  4. AJSmith
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    AJSmith Senior Member

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    Maybe have a line where he shows empathy for a weaker character... I think this would be possible while still allowing him to maintain his flaws. Portraying a sense of empathy may show a side of him that builds that "likeable" factor and I don't think it takes away from excelling at most things.
     
  5. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could also give the character a weakness the reader can identify with, like being spurned by the one they love, or being insecure about themselves.
     
  6. w176
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    w176 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Reader loves a total bastard as long as that bastard make them smile.
     
  7. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    If your character is an arrogan hypocrit, it may take more than a single sentence to make him likeable. But my real question is this: Do you like him? You are his creator, so you know more about him than anyone else (including knowing the person he will become after his transformation). Do you like the person he is in the begining? If not, if you like him because of who he will be at the end, then your readers won't like him either. I don't think there is a magic sentence to make the audience like someone who is portrayed mostly as a jerk.

    Just my opinion.
     
  8. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    I agree with Terry that you need more lines. Here are a few quick ideas that jump to mind:
    1. Let someone even less likable qualify him as a hypocrite; this might prompt the reader to think it's maybe not so bad as it seems....
    2. Let him acknowledge (confess) he is a hypocrite, but suggest he is role-playing for a higher order reason. (As lying can be acceptable to save someone's life).
    3. Hypocrisy can be a defence mechanism against something bigger....
     
  9. Tesgah
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    Tesgah Member

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    Thank you very much. You just drained two hours of my life by making me click that link:D

    I would advice the OP that he gives the character a trait which makes him likable. For example the character could detest bullies, making him stand up to a bunch of people who were teasing someone else, thus showing that "he's really a good guy". Even arrogant people can be helpful towards others.
     
  10. Soul
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    Soul Member

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    Is he something like doctor House?

    Maybe give him some event from past that made him that way.So people can show empathy for him.
     
  11. Georgew
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    Georgew Member

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    There are a number of things you could do, although how they would fit into your story/plot is another question.

    You could adjust the background information in order to give him a motive that powers him in all the things he excels at.

    For example in the film "Never Back Down" The main villain has an abusive father which kind of tones down the audiences hate for him (although they didn't choose to reveal it until later) but used correctly planting a motive could help the audience feel something more positive than negative towards the character.

    In the TV series "The Mentalist" the main character is arrogant but also has a childish humor which kind of wins over the audience (plus he has a tragic background story which provokes sympathy).

    In the film "Iron Man" the main character is almost unbearably arrogant but adding humor gets the audience on side. That and the fact that he becomes a super hero of course.

    So you can either add a likable quality that overpowers him being the best at everything, or a back story which provokes some empathetic feeling towards him, or of course a combination of the two.
     
  12. JPLayne
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    JPLayne Member

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    Have him admit to his hypocrisy. Let it be something he struggles with or at least doesn't like. That would make it easier to connect with him.
     
  13. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    Here's my take.

    1. Show why he's arrogant or hypocritical. He's that way for a reason; maybe he learned it from someone he respected. Now that I think about it, both of these qualities reveal that your character really cares about what others think about him, or maybe he really cares about the image he has of himself. You can work with that.

    2. Show that, while he may be a jerk face-to-face, show that he really does care about people when they're not around. Have him speak in the defense of someone when they're not present.

    But if you don't like him, don't expect your audience to like him. If you like him as a person, you just need to show why he's likeable and your audience will go for it.
     

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