Monday, June 6, 2011

Unlikable Characters

Several authors have blogged recently on creating a character who is unlikable but who grows on the reader as the story goes along.  
A character like this is certainly interesting, think of Snape in the Harry Potter novels or House in the TV series of the same name, but that character must be surrounded by other characters the reader can connect with immediately.  
Would most readers have liked the HP series if it had been from Snape’s viewpoint?  HOUSE certainly is bleeding viewers because House himself is totally out of control with the focus shifted away from the likable characters like Wilson and House’s staff.
A better example is CRIMINAL MINDS and its spinoff CRIMINAL MINDS: SUSPECT BEHAVIOR.  Both series have identical formats with different characters, but it’s how the characters have been presented that has made the original a success, and the spinoff a one-season cancelled failure.  
I normally avoid serial killer programs and books, but the characters in CM got me interested enough that I kept watching because the likable characters made the grimness and brutality manageable, but with CM: SB that's not the case.  
For the most part, the characters are grim, prickly, and emotionally and physically unattractive so I didn't make it through two programs before I stopped watching.
You have to have both types of characters so that character who grows on you isn't the only character the reader can root for.