This is every writer’s nightmare isn’t it? Readers dislike your main character. You love that character. There may even be a bit of your own personality in this person, and they despise them? Are you going to have to start again? Everyone should love your hero, right? Wrong!
My first set of books are a trilogy of dark comedy crime novels – the DCI Fenton trilogy. A friend of mine said this to me:
“I can’t stand that Fenton, I want to grab him by the head and smash it through a plate glass window.”
Strong stuff – I loved it!
To me, that demonstrated the character I had created felt so real to someone that it had evoked such a strong emotional response. That’s what you’re looking for when you create a character. If you want to try and force people to feel a certain away about the characters you create, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. People aren’t predictable – which includes your readers. We’ve all had that moment when two of our friends who we adore, don’t like each other.
What you’re looking for is an emotional reaction. People may love your villain and cry when them kill him off – great. Some obnoxious character goes through a journey and becomes a better person and your readers still want to meet a violent end – that’s brilliant. Your readers feel something. They have connected with your characters. Whether that’s in the way you intended or not doesn’t matter. The fact is, your characters are real to them. That emotional connection is how you get people to read your next novel or short story. Think of all your favourite authors and the first time you read one of their books. What was it that made you go straight to Amazon and order the next book? That’s the connection you need to make with your readers.
Remember this when creating a character – don’t try and force your readers to react in a certain way, just create characters which make them feel something.