Pond Scum, Shoe Gum And Unlikable Characters

There are some things in life that are detestable like stepping on a piece of gum in the parking lot, or pond scum where you want to swim. What about that nasty bird present on a park bench?

If you are a parent, chances are you have touched, tasted and smelled some of the worst substances known to man at the most unexpected times.  Our cutie pies are sometimes a treasure trove of surprises.

There is plenty of nasty to be found, but there is one place you don’t want to find it. You don’t want to find it in a character of a novel, unless of course they’re the villain.

Have you ever been told you have an unlikable hero/heroine? I have. It isn’t what you were hoping to hear, that’s for sure.

How can you make a character more likable?

Early In The Novel:

*Show them doing something kind or heroic

*Show one of their likable qualities

*Show them in their area of competance

*Give them flaws or insecurities readers relate to

*Have them say or do things our reader has always wanted to

*Show their vulnerability to make readers want them to succeed

*Give them some quirky or endearing habits

Gender Specific Tips Most Readers Like In Women:

*Characters who are generous

*Characters who are care takers

*Characters who are strong (not simpering or whiny)

*Characters who are independent

Gender Specific Tips Most Readers Like In Men:

*Characters who can lead

*Characters who are physically strong in some way

*Characters that are clearly masculine

*Characters who DON”T APOLOGIZE for kissing the heroine

*Characters who show surprising gentleness to someone in their life

*Characters who are protective of those they love

*Characters who aren’t threatened by a woman’s independence

What are some things that make you like a character in a novel?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

6 thoughts on “Pond Scum, Shoe Gum And Unlikable Characters

  1. I know women who are looking for a real-life man you described! lol
    These are great tips we need to incorporate into our books. Going back now and work one in my wip for my heroine!

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    Thanks, Pat! By far my greatest pet pieve in reading a romance of any kind is when the hero apologizing for kissing the girl, or isn’t masculine. Blech!

  3. Melissa Tagg says:

    Great thoughts, Michelle. I know I’m in trouble when even I don’t like my character. Hehehe…

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    Oh, I have been there. Sometimes ready to kill them off…I’m a suspense writer after all, but alas the hero/heroine cannot die in the story in Romantic Suspense.

  5. jeannemt says:

    Great list, Michelle. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. Definitely good things to build into our characters (and perhaps their opposite into villains…..?). 🙂

  6. Michelle Lim says:

    Definitely, some of the opposites in our villains is a great way to look at it.

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