Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Characters

I had planned a rather long post on futuristic cars for this day, but it'll have to be postponed (perhaps to the letter V?) because a new topic intruded rather suddenly into my mind. Characters. Specifically, characters which drive the reader up a wall.

Is it really worth the risk of putting these kinds of characters into a story? Or will it only encourage the reader to yell complaints, skip entire sections, or even throw the book at a wall and never pick it up again? (For a real life example of the latter reaction, see
Let me back up slightly and explain the origin of this topic. As you might have been able to guess, it originated from contact (prolonged contact) with stories that contained annoying characters. The unfortunate bit is that in both cases the character in question is supposed to be the MC for whom I, the reader, am supposed to have sympathy. Let's just say I haven't been very sympathetic and have picked secondary or other primary characters to support and emotionally invest in.

Since this post is supposed to be short and succinct, I shall only pick one of the instances to discuss. As a family we are reading a story "countdown" to Easter. The MC is a young boy of thirteen who is set up as an unbelievable genius (for some reason the author assigned to him a ton of inventions by Leonardo Da Vinci). On top of that, he's an arrogant, prideful, (in some cases) irrational, and immature brat. He's the type you want to slap upside the head and hope some sense wakes up inside. And this brat is the MC who I'm supposed to sympathize with because his father is falsely accused and imprisoned for stealing. The whole story long the brat's trying to clear his father's name and free him. The story, at this point, is pointing towards his father being one of the two thieves crucified with Jesus. (Edit: He isn't. Figures. Kid story needs a happy, in other words "father's alive", ending.) At this point, I "like" the brat enough to say, "Serves you right. Grow up, won't you?"

In my opinion, this character ruined the story. I feel no desire to recommend the book to others because it was not enjoyable. (And it was too predictable.)

Consider long and hard before writing in a character who annoys the reader. And definitely think twice before making the character the MC. It's fine to have a character start out annoying, but please, oh please, have them change as the plot progresses. What annoyed me the most about the brat was not that he was a brat but, rather, that he remained one for the duration of the story with no change.

In what ways do you think an annoying character can be used effectively and ineffectively?

Until next time.

9 comments:

  1. Making a character annoying is okay if it's a villain but even they should have some features that don't make readers want to throw the book down.

    Nice to meet you, and I hope you're enjoying the Challenge!

    KarenG
    A to Z Challenge Host

    ReplyDelete
  2. Main characters should be likeable--they can have flaws but they should have some redeeming quality that makes us root for them.

    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com
    Happy A-Zing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Just read another post along these same lines. Definitely a problem if the MC is too annoying to empathize with. Occasionally a side character that way might be all right. We all have those people in our lives. I'm trying to visit all the A-Z Challenge Blogs this month.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with all the comments above. Readers need to connect to the MC if they don't they will get bored.

    ReplyDelete
  5. lovely post :)

    do check out my letters at GAC a-z

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey, where are you? You have some catching up to do, that is, if you are okay. We hope so!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know exactly what you mean. I actually had a character like that, and I'm still struggling him to come across in a reader friendly way.

    Interestingly, though, some of my CPs really like him. So maybe it's just a personality thing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I'm #44 following. Good post on characters. Hope you pick up the challenge again. :)
    Kate
    http://solidhappiness.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm glad you got to c. Believe me this wasn't an easy challenge.

    Teresa

    ReplyDelete

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