Characters who appeal most to me are a bit rough–ones who bear the wounds of a difficult past yet are determined to take on the challenges ahead. These anti-hero types push back when they are pushed and wear emotional armor made of steel, safeguarding themselves from a hard world. They might be cynical, sarcastic, uncompromising and distant. They may also lack filters, have trust or control issues and avoid forming relationships. Yet there is always something redeeming and likeable about them, and it keeps me turning pages.
Flawed heroes and anti heroes are complex and interesting, and provide a difficult challenge for other characters wanting to get close. Watching the emotional armor finally loosen to allow another in is extremely satisfying for readers. But often, in the writer’s attempt to create a damaged, tough hero or heroine, the character ends up too flawed and their lack of likeability spoils the story. Readers grow frustrated with the character, lose patience and are unable to forge that empathy link.
I’m over at Writer’s Dig today discussing When Flaws Go Too Far: Avoiding Unlikeable Characters, so if this is something you struggle with, stop in! I have a few tips to help bring readers in and make them care about your anti-hero character, even when there are aspects of their personality that might be tough to like.