I love to hate you.

A while ago I read a post on Nathan Bransford's blog about making sure your main character is redeemable. I thought he did a great job explaining how to keep your MC likeable even when they mess up big time.

I seem to have the opposite problem right now. I think I may be making one of my characters a little too likeable, and I wonder if it's going to make my readers fall in love with the wrong guy. I just can't seem to help but write him the way he comes to me, and he is a very charismatic man! It's getting to the point where I wonder if his flaws are big enough or bad enough to counteract his appeal. I often ask myself, are my readers going to be able to switch their loyalty to the true love interest? I hope so, because I really don't want to water down this character. He's just so good at being bad.

I suppose literature and movies are full of villains we adore. One of my personal favorites is the Phantom, especially as played by Gerard Butler. Have you ever fallen for your antagonist? Who do you love to hate?

phantom11

25 comments:

  1. Great post! I just did a post on the likeability factor. And I didn't realize that likeability can got too far. :)

    There are so many characters I love to hate. Even the stupid ones who really screw up. It makes them so human that it just ends up drawing your reader in more than otherwise. Thanks for some great thoughts!

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  2. I have a similar conundrum. In this book, the heroine has three potential love interests. One, her first love, who (she thinks) abandoned her, but who was actually removed by the villain. Two, the villain, who falls for the heroine himself without wanting to. Three, a charmer who accepts a Dangerous LIaisons type challenge from a villainess to seduce the heroine.

    I have three problems.

    One. I don't want her first love to seem ike a wanker or a wimp even though he's out of the picture.

    Two. I want the the villain to be the dark, brooding type you fall in love with, even though you know it's not a good idea.

    Three. I want the charmer to be another kind of bad boy to make the villain seem ironically gallant by comparison. (I.e. the villain may be serving the wrong side, but he is doing so for noble reasons; whereas the charmer is really just self-serving.) However, the charmer aslo has to be redeemable.

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  3. Michele, I read your post and thought it was great. I agree some of my favorite characters are the extremely flawed ones. They're so memorable.

    Tara, Wow!! That's a tall order. Your book sounds very complex. But when you get all those intricacies right, it makes for a truly great story. Good luck! And thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

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  4. Do not water him down. I love him!! LOL And no worries, I love the love interest too. He's hot.

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  5. Natalie's totally in love with the bad love interest from Flash. I keep telling her she's supposed to love WILL, but noooo, it's all about James...

    And I'll admit, James is ever so charming...

    Mmmmm...

    Wait, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah. As much conflict as you can introduce, I say ;)

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  6. Maybe it's a case of Too Many Characters. It's a series and some of the characters are really bit players here but become more important later. I do hope it's not Character Overload!

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  7. What a great question! Charles Dickens always does a great job of making his bad guys very dispicable, even giving them names like "Heap" and "Pecksniff" to make us hate them even more. But oh the bad guy that is redeemable, and you love him in spite of yourself?!? Shannon Hale wrote a good want-to-love bad guy in Enna Burning. Sileph. You fall in love with him with Enna, and when they kiss...fireworks.

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  8. Kasie, I know you love him as much as I do!

    Kiersten, I can definitely understand Natalie's bias. I read your James scene, and WOW. Just WOW.

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  9. Tara, As long as all your characters are integral to the story I think its okay, I think. I fink in my book about superheroes that there are a lot of characters needed for the fights and secret missions, but I only really focus on the few most important ones for the most part.

    Jessie, The thing I love about Dickens is that he draws such a clear line between good and bad, and the good guys always end up on top in the end. He doesn't shy away from human suffering by a long shot, in fact he tends to dwell on it, but his stories are so moral.

    I just picked up River Secrets by Shannon Hale and then realized I was starting at the end of the series, so I'm going to go get the other two ASAP. They look really interesting.

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  10. Oh I love a good, lovable villain!! ESPECIALLY if he's a hot guy! :)

    I know exactly what you're talking about! I think I might have a variation on that problem. My MC loves one guy, but is a better fit for a different guy. And, I think the readers will want her to be with guy #2 . . . I think. I'm not sure. I'm actually not sure who I think is the right one for her. Or who she'll end up with.

    It's very complicated. I'm quite curious to get some second opinions on it.

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  11. Renee, I find it fascinating you don't know who she'll end up with. I've never written a story that way. I'm told, however, that the script writers of Casablanca originally planned to shoot two different endings, one where she ended up with Rick and one where she left on the plane with Lazlo. However, after they shot the version where she left with Lazlo, they decided it was perfect. The rest is film history.

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  12. Every book needs a plot thickener but you have to be careful. Stephane Meyer created Jacob as a plot thickener and I know plenty of girls who liked him better than Edward, so yes likable but I find it best if they die in the end (wow that sounds horrid, but true).

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  13. Renee, Pick me! Pick me! *jumps in the air while raising hand* If you ever need a second opinion that is. I write not knowing how a lot of things will end up too, but I've never not known who my MC will end up with. That sounds very exciting!

    Tara, that's some cool Trivia.

    Matt, Quit trying to kill off my characters. LOL! But you make a good point.

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  14. In the Notebook, I fell in love with both the heroine's love interests. She was engaged to one and in love with the other. I was in love with both. Unlike the Titanic, the fiancee in the Notebook was quite charming and loved and respected his fiancee. I was torn between two lovers and feeling like a fool.

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  15. Tricia, So I'm curious, did it bother you that the author made them both so likeable?

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  16. No, it added conflict to the story. I wouldn't have wanted to be in her shoes. I thought, If I can't have both men, I'll kill myself. I got totally caught up in the story. Not only that but it stayed with me for days. Now if I only I could write something so powerful that would make my reader hurl my book across the room then run, go grab it, and ask if it's all right, then I know I've done something right. Right now I think I'm at the hurl it across the room and leave it there stage.:)

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  17. Tricia, The last book I wanted to hurl across the room was Breaking Dawn, but I didn't want to pick it back up again! :)

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  18. Interesting post. I think it caught my attention most of all because of the Gerard Butler picture as the Phantom. I just went to see this musical for the first time over the weekend and I thought a lot about the characters. As far as antagonists like this, I think readers and writers alike fall for them because they're more of a mystery and, even better, they're the underdog with just enough redeeming characteristics that we all want to root for them. Thanks for the post!

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  19. Ooh! I love this! And DON"T Worry about letting us fall for the bad guy.. it'll just make the story more believable and interesting! LOL! I ALWAYS LOVE My bad guys! ALWAYS! Jenni

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  20. Hi, i found my way over to this post from Tara Maya's blog.

    Anyway, I love a good anit-hero. One of my favorites is House, from the TV show, of course. He acts terrible, but I just love him anway.

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  21. I had to stop by because of the your awesome blog name!
    LOL
    Yes, I always seem to fall for the bad boys. Not the evil guys, just the ones that aren't "nice".
    Good luck refining your character. :-)

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  22. Cindy- How could that picture not catch your eye. ;) He was amazing! I totally agree with your assessment, and I hope you enjoyed the musical. I loved it!

    Jenni- You're going to love Volt!! The plot thickens!

    Kate- House is exactly the type of character I'm talking about. We really shouldn't like him, but we all do!

    Jessica- Thanks for stopping by my blog! I'm with you, don't want em' evil, just a bit rough around the edges.

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  23. I love to hate you...? Erasure? Pet shop boys?... I can't remember. Help me out here:)

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  24. Nick- ERASURE Duh! :) good call!

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  25. You are in trouble! Everyone seems to know more than I do...I was only in Mexico for 5 days not forever!

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