Monday, June 27, 2011

I Love Him, I Love Him Not...

By Julie Daines

As a follow up to my post about a main character I hated, (click here to read it) I thought I'd tackle the subject of how to make your main character likeable.

According to the awesomeness of Martine Leavitt, in children's and YA fiction it's important to have a main character that is likeable. The best way to do this is to have your character possess at least one of the following:

- Physical Attractiveness. I can't help but think of Jacob Black here. He is selfish and interfering, but oh so popular with the girl readers. Why does he have a whole team backing him up? Because he's hot.

- Altruism. Think Charlotte in Charlotte's Web. Samwise in Lord of the Rings--isn't he everyone's favorite?

- Plans, Purpose, and Dreams. No one has more dreams than Anne in Anne of Green Gables. I also think of Keturah in Keturah and Lord Death. All she wants is a little cottage with a kind husband and a peasant baby to hold.

- Courage and a Heightened Sense of Fairplay. Does this not say Harry Potter? How about Percy Jackson?

- Attitude. I'm thinking Scarlet O'Hara. In the book I think they called it gumption, and she has it in spades. She has to in order to counter all her negative traits.

- Cleverness. What's the name of that obnoxious, rude doctor guy we all love--House? Also Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird.

- Who Love and are Loved. I hate to use another Twilight example, yet I can't help but think of Bella. She really doesn't have a lot going for her except that she is loved by her dad, her mom, and of course Edward and Jacob and a few other boys at school. Because so many people love her, we figure there must be a reason, and so we identify with that and love her too. Or at the very least we want to see her happy.

- Are in Jeopardy. In the Hunger Games, main character Katniss lacks a lot in personality and kindness, but since she spends all of a thousand pages in ultimate peril, we root for her.

So there you have it. Good luck in being liked!


Scott said...

Good post, although I don't get the Twilight refs and find no redeeming qualities whatsoever in Scarlet O'Hara. Maybe in the book but I dislike the movie far too much to ever give the book a try. But your points are excellent. You protagonist must be flawed, maybe deeply flawed, but still be likable. I can only think of two lead characters who I really disliked but I still enjoyed their stories: Ignatius Jacques Reilly and Coriolanus.

Taffy said...

Scarlet O'Hara is not one of my favorite because her goal she's after is so off course. But she does go after the goal with strength and determination and courage.
This is what I want you to write a guest post on for my blog, Julie. Character or first chapter or both :)