1. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    What makes us love people that most people would normally hate?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by cherrya, Jun 25, 2018.

    So here it is, my character is charismatic and is meant to draw people to him like a magnet because of his confident and fearless nature, but this also means that he doesn't care about most people's feelings and won't hesitate to share what he believes with the world even if its hurtful to some people.

    He comes from a life of privilege and is very arrogant (he's a teenager), but the thing is; he's not a bad person at all, more like the result of his background. He's extremely good to his friends, and he grew up surrounded by people, so he's good with people, but I'm afraid people will hate him before getting to know him.
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Are you asking how to get the readers to like him, or how to explain that other characters like him? I think that those would be very different answers.

    I'm also not seeing the link between confident, fearless, doesn't care about people's feelings, and draws people to him like a magnet. You can care about people's feelings while still being confident and fearless, and if you don't care about them or at least pretend to, you're probably not going to draw people.
     
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  3. awkwarddragon

    awkwarddragon Member

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    How is he charismatic and drawing people in if he's the complete opposite? I'd think people would be pushed away rather than what's said. Unless you have two different POVs seeing different sides of him, I don't see how this character will work out. My two cents.
     
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  4. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    I mean how to make the reader like him, sorry if that wasn't clear.

    Well I put the two next to each other to show what makes people like him and what might make the readers dislike him, those things aren't supposed to be linked to his appreciation. But if you are asking how someone could like a person that's arrogant enough to not care about what others think of him : He doesn't care about being kind to people he doesn't like. Naturally this should make those people dislike him, but since they are not the majority the rest of the world will still like him (he doesn't walk around insulting everyone).

    This is based on the the thought that we often hear people say that they like people who "tell it like it is", or are shown to be more daring in social situations. It is proven that we are more attracted to people who aren't afraid of taking risks, which in this case could be perceived as a social risk (obviously this might not be the case for everybody but it's still something I have read).

    Hope that makes everything clearer.

    Tl;dr : Basically he doesn't walk around being mean to everyone. He is with those he doesn't like, but since we're used to reading about perfect characters I'm afraid this will make the readers instantly hate him, but I guess this discussion is proving to me that either they'll like him or they won't. As long as I'm true to my character that shouldn't matter.
     
  5. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I have two thoughts:

    One, imo "he's not a bad person, just a result of his background" is kind of a crap argument. Past experiences can explain poor behavior, but they don't excuse it -- you can easily make this guy understandable by showing where he came from, but that doesn't necessarily make him a likable character.

    Two, I think that the appeal to some of people who are generally hard to be around is the idea that if you can get them to like / be on your side, then you'll have a huge ally. It's very useful for people who are shy or nervous in social situations to have somebody they can call on who has no problem making a scene; it's the social equivalent of being friends with the really big scary guy who'll handle it for you if things get tough physically.

    So if you demonstrate that this character might be kind of a dick to some people (ideally only the ones who deserve it*), but he's super ride-or-die for his friends, and he's not so vile and unapproachable that the reader could conceive of befriending him themself -- I think that would be a good in.

    * Have him show remorse for being a dick to people who, it turns out, didn't deserve it for extra points.
     
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  6. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    People may SAY that they like people who "tell it like it is", but that's usually when those people are saying something that they agree with. When they disagree with it, not so much.

    I'm feeling the need for some examples of this behavior.
     
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  7. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    That was extremely helpful actually, and a really good point. I guess you're right about the background thing as well. I shouldn't try to make excuses for his bad behaviours.

    Thank you for your help!
     
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  8. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    Well more like bullying this kid he hates (to be fair the kid is kind of a biggot).

    On one hand that's a terrible thing to do, but on the other they're teenagers and most of his friends hate the kid as well.

    I guess I should have said that from the start lol. He's going to change eventually but by then the story will be near its end. I know it's hard to ask readers to like a bully but A)It's not his full personality, he doesn't make a career out of it, and B)We seem to love it when it's shown in movies (like sherlock holmes or basically any robert downey jr movies, etc.) as long as the character isn't a full on monster with no empathy (which he isn't).
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Bullying is not, IMO, in the same category as "telling it like it is". They're quite different things. Bullying usually means that you seek out the person to torment them; "telling it like it is" generally means that the other person has initiated a conversation.
     
  10. Malisky

    Malisky Mercury Retroblade Contributor

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    People like strong, independent characters. If they are kind of difficult even more so, because it's the "unreachable" that is challenging. They want to tame the beast. Some people are more sociopathic in nature as well, and no, I'm not speaking about poor bully that is so full of himself but still "innocent" in a sense (a force of his unmonitored nature) but actually some people look for individuals as this to target. Manipulators.
    They get the self appreciation they need once they feel they won over the said "bully", meaning once they've revealed their vulnerable side. It's very common and purely psychological. After they get what they want either they "ghost" the bully, because they find nothing more worth exploring or they stand by him for two reasons.
    First reason, they still need him because he offers resources. Second reason, they get to really like what they find and sincerely like his company. There's an equal give and take. Both learn from the relationship.
     
  11. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    When it comes to my books, I often have at least one MC who's kind of an asshole at the beginning, though they tend to be loner types who don't have many friends at the time we meet them. Because I write romance it's pretty important that my readers somehow still want to root for Happily Ever After for my couple, so sometimes it's a reeeeeely thin line between being true to their dickish nature while not alienating the reader. In other words, I feel your pain. :D

    My approach is usually to show their vulnerability in certain scenes or when they interact with certain other characters, which IMO humanizes the jerky character. You mentioned Sherlock Holmes, whose recent BBC version is a perfect example of this - when he treats Mrs. Hudson with such tenderness and care, or the few times he shows vulnerability with John or Mycroft, it balances out the crappy behavior. People are messy and complicated, and while there are truly horrible and irredeemable people out there, for the most part jerks are jerks for a reason. Exploring those reasons and showing exceptions (particularly showing why these other characters or scenes are exceptions to the rule) can give your character redeemability from the start, which is important if you want to redeem them realistically later on. There's got to be a foundation of goodness or worth to begin with or it'll come out of nowhere and leave your readers with whiplash.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2018
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  12. cherrya

    cherrya Active Member

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    Of course I don't believe that those two are the same. The point wasn't to emphasize on what I believe "telling it like it is" is, I was only giving an additional example of an action he might commit that would make readers dislike him. The two things are unrelated and do not reflect my views on bullying, nor the character's in question for that matter.
     
  13. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    OK. I don't feel that we have, yet, any examples of his behavior, or enough of an understanding to address your question. Others may disagree. I don't know.
     
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  14. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    Some things will make some readers hate a character no matter what. For example, if someone cheats in a romance novel, some percentage of readers will never forgive the character and won't be interested in reading anymore.

    There are behaviors that really rub readers the wrong way, because they hit close to home. Protagonists who bully, rape, cheat, commit white collar theft, express racist or misogynistic ideals and so on, really piss readers off.

    On the other hand: drug dealers, murderers, hitmen with morals that exclude the reader's peer group, soldiers fighting unjust wars... the victims are generally people we don't sympathize with, or aren't like us, so it doesn't bother us. Even better, the protagonist can get a pass if he feels guilty about what "he must do."

    Lots of people kind of like violence, but not any kind of violence. We like honorable mutual combat, and we like successful attacks against people we've been told we don't have to care about. We like it because we like to picture what we would do, and hope that we (or someone like us) would come out on top.

    If you want an easy out, make all of the victims other criminals.

    You can pair these unsavory acts with things that make us like people: beauty, high intelligence, competence, loyalty to friends, having friends and family, and proactive behavior. You can give the protagonist victims that are not in the peer group of your target audience, and let him feel guilt over it.

    Imagine a super attractive man, with a wife and kids, who rolls around town with his best friend who loves him. He's incredibly smart. Always says something funny. He never says die. Never quits. And all day, every day, he's thinking about becoming the biggest mob boss in town.

    In every episode, he murders / tortures / stalks / robs other criminals, driving them out of business. He is perfectly willing to kill normal, law abiding citizens, but he is never shown doing so on the page / on the screen. While he routinely murders police officers and soldiers, he has a no women / no children murder policy. Will readers / viewers love or hate this guy?

    I think they would love him.

    Edit: I guess my point is that a realistic unsavory dude is a much more dangerous character to make a protagonist. If he does the stuff real, common bad people do, like rape, bully, steal from his own company or employees, price gouge sick or needy people, betray romantic partners, and so on, you'll be hard pressed to keep the reader on his side. On the other hand, if he tortures and murders criminals over petty disagreements? That would be fine. A lot of readers won't care.

    It is what it is. I'm going to go watch some more Punisher on Netflix now.
     
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2018
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  15. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

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    Even if you don't like someones ideology or beliefs, I find it hard in real life to actually dislike them if they are a good, nice, charismatic person otherwise. Plus, people will almost always take the MCs side, even if its pretty clear they are the bad guy.
     
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  16. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I always tell it like it is. Yep. And don't they hate it when other folks tell it like it is BACK.

    A huge percentage of 'tell it like it is' people get very pissed off if somebody returns the favour in kind. They'll get very offended, and nurse a grudge for ages. They often waste a lot of their lifetime concocting a rationale for how other people are 'rude' or 'stupid' or 'unfair' or 'out to get me.' We have an example of this kind of behaviour in action, leading the so-called Free World (badly) at the moment.

    Nobody ELSE is allowed to tell it like it is, are they? Especially if they hold the opposite view, or their reaction to being 'telt' isn't exactly grateful or respectful.

    A sense of verbal entitlement to express any opinion any way they want, no matter who gets hurt, can certainly be a trait that causes people to dislike your character, @cherrya .
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2018
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  17. evenflow69

    evenflow69 Member

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    The only way you get away with not caring about the people around you and still remain popular is to be extra fun! I have seen realy hot women put up with ass holes if they are fun assholes!
     
  18. WaffleWhale

    WaffleWhale Active Member

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    "telling it like it is" Is just people wanting to be jerks about their opinions and not get in trouble for it.
     
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    “Tell it like it is” also includes the arrogant assumption that the speaker can legitimately claim to know the truth. I have a fraction more tolerance for “tell it like I see it.”
     
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  20. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    Perhaps you could introduce him as a villain, then fill in the back story. Most of the time, once we understand the reasons why villains do things, we like them better. They don't do bad things just "because evil," they have motivation. Most people like The Joker in the Batman movies right?

    Have you seen or read The Walking Dead? You described a character called Negan. The show has had a variety of bad guys, but Negan is both by far the worse, but also the one liked most by fans. He very much follows the ideology of "the ends justifies the means."
     
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  21. Siberian

    Siberian Member

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    Negan is a a great example because even though he's a bad (very bad) guy he has limitations and rules he follows. He has reasons for why he does the things he does but they are reasons that are logical. They don't always seem moral, but we can understand his motives. Also humor is HUGE when it comes to wanting us to like a character. We love to laugh so if your character can make us smile or giggle we have a harder time of disliking them unless they are just really sickeningly evil.

    Another thing you can do if you believe he's a good person and don't want readers to pull away is show why he is the way he is. Give us a reason to understand why acts the way he does from his background whether it's good or bad. Also like @Laurin Kelly said, throw in tidbits where he is vulnerable, shows kindness, his ability to be caring. Something to show us he's human and not above us all the time. Give us sneak peaks at the person he has the possibility to become because we are always more interested in characters we can relate to and see their ability to be a good person.

    As for telling it like it is it makes me think of Tony Robbins idk if you've heard of him. He's not afraid to say the truth to your face but the reason he's not hated is because 1) He says what needs to be heard with the intention of helping the person (motives) and 2) He's open to being corrected and really listening (wanting to connect and understand).
     
  22. Edgelordess

    Edgelordess Member

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    I think different people will have different answers to this sort of question. But I'll give you a personal experiance of a charcter I love, when in reality if this charcter was a real person, I would want them to have a horrible life.

    Back when I started watching Game of Thrones, I fell in love with one of the minor antagonists, Viserys Targaryen. I think he's only seen in the first ten episodes, until he finally gets killed off. (Is there a spoiler tag button in this forum? Sorry if I ruined the series) Anyway the first three episodes, I found this character absolutely obnoxious, disgusting and awful indvidual. Though I also found him physically appealing. (I have a thing for guys with long hair. ESPICALLY villains) I think thats what made me like this character. He was my fanservice character during the first season. From episode four up until his last appearance, I started to like him more out of irony, as he became less and less of a threat to Danyerus, his sister. And again, I think this is because I found him physically pleasing to my eye and not because I liked him for his character.

    With that say, that was a TV series, a visual medium. I feel with novels, I have a harder time establishing love/hate relationship characters because I don't have that visual component. And I don't read a lot of novels, but I had a similar experience last semester, while reading 100 Years of Solitude. But it wasn't just the mental image of this character (I think it was Jose Arcadio, the second generation. He is described to be a sex god in the novel) but how insane this novel was written. This character was crazy. Like Viserys Targaryen crazy, but in novel form. (I haven't read the actual Game of Thrones book. Too long) I think with Jose Arcadio, what made me like his character was the way he was written. I think had the author had a more subtle charcter with good looks, I don't think I would of been as invested in this character.

    Bottom line, I like crazy long haired men. Even if they are terrible people. But not in real life. I just want the long hair.
     
  23. ShalaylaW

    ShalaylaW Member

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    Is the goal you are trying to reach with your character the good-evil sort, where they perhaps do bad things for the right reasons, and hoping the readers will come to understand his harsh actions are in some way justified? And perhaps his confident personality will make up for any dislike to him?
    And perhaps the answer to your question is everyone has a different moral code. As seen some people do not agree with the term "tell it as it is" because there is never one way to see the world, whereas others seem unaffected by this descriptive term. I for one have no opinion on that term, for this characters actions will show what he truly is.
    Does he treat those close to him with integrity, or is he truly just a butt head? Does he know when he is wrong, or does he just blunder on and his confident nature takes over?
    Those kind of questions are what determines if you have a chance at a character being likeable or if you've made a dud.

    And as to what makes us love characters others would normally hate.... perhaps some people like unlikable characters just for the sake of going against the grain. No offense but I'm someone who can't be around bulldogs, they aren't an animal I like. But lots of people own bulldogs perhaps for the reason that they fill in a part of their heart that I'll never understand. Their experiences are different. So I guess I'm comparing your character to a bulldog haha could be perceived as a bully to some and an endearing, harsh ally to others....
     
  24. Senko

    Senko Member

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    I guess that giving your character a trait that your readers love. Or, better, more that one trait.
     

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