5 Questions To Ask To Avoid Unlikable Characters

Photo by beermug

Photo by beermug

Have you ever started a book and a few scenes in you already hated the hero or heroine?

The best of stories and plots can bite the dust for less. So how do we create likable characters on the page for our readers?

5 Questions To Ask To Avoid Unlikable Characters:

1. Would I hang out with this person? 

There are some people that are just plain fun to be with. None of us like to hang out with people who are too perfect, or too odd. We like someone fun who has somethings we have in common.

If you are going to have odd qualities for your hero or heroine, then find a way to show their fun side. Make them aware that they are quirky and act in a way that we don’t mind.

2. Do they have obnoxious habits or personality traits? 

It is essential to avoid things that turn off our readers. Think of the most annoying people you know. If they in any way remind you of your character chances are your readers will not like them.

Sometimes our characters aren’t obnoxious in our heads, but we forget that the side of them we showcase is obnoxious. Look for opportunities to highlight the likable qualities of your characters.

3. Can my readers tell three likable qualities of my character by the end of the first scene?

We usually make up our minds about whether or not we like a person based hugely on our first impression. Yes, we can change our minds, but we don’t have that luxury in fiction. The reader’s first impression must lead them to the conclusion that they love your character.

4. Does my character have something in common with my reader?

Readers like to spend time with people that have things in common with them. Characters in a book also need to have things in common with our readers, or readers will not want to spend time with them either.

5. Does the character do or say things your reader has always wanted to do or say?

This tip I learned from Susan May Warren at My Book Therapy a few years back. Our readers love it when the character does and says things we wished that we could have in the same situations. This allows the reader to live vicariously through the characters.

What is one of your favorite characters? Why?


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.

One thought on “5 Questions To Ask To Avoid Unlikable Characters

  1. […] M. Weiland mentions 6 must-know tricks for getting to know your characters. Michelle Lim gives us 5 questions to ask to avoid unlikable characters, and in a follow-up to her post (featured in last week’s TPT) about handling a large cast of […]

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