In the golden age of Goodreads, it’s a joy and a badge of honor to be able to list the dozens of books we’ve read and, of course, fangirl over them with fellow book junkies. 😀 We LOVE reading novels! However, sometimes a book feels like it takes forever to read. Why? It might happen with short books or long ones, with books we enjoy and (more often) with books we don’t. When it seems to take an eternity to get through a book, what is the #1 reason?
Lately, I’ve run across way too many YA book reviews that decry the extreme unlikability of main characters. Are writers making their protagonists too unlikable? Sure, writing an engaging main character is a complex process–we like our protagonists flawed and thus more interesting, but isn’t it also important for them to be likable enough to root for through an entire novel?
With fictional characters–as with real people–“engaging” and “likable” are subjective, to be sure. In Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, for example, some readers find the protagonist Rachel so incredibly flawed that she’s just too pitiful to root for; others, like me, find her compelling and sympathetic in her way. The truth is, no characters in The Girl on the Train are heroic in a classic sense, but the story still works. That’s just good writing, so kudos to Paula Hawkins.
So…what makes a character likable? Here’s my list. Tell me if I missed anything.
What Makes a Character Likable?
1. Must feel extremely passionate about something.
2. Has at least one person she’s willing to fight for.
3. Isn’t too perfect.
4. Has a troubled life.
5. Isn’t overly whiny about her troubled life.
6. Has a special talent, skill, or exceptional personality trait.
7. Sees the world in a unique way.
8. Is aware of her own flaws and grows or changes in some way. (added by blogger eclecticscribblings)
9. BONUS: Has a sense of humor, especially about herself. (added by blogger Aedifice)
In other news, I’m falling madly in love with my latest work in progress, a contemporary YA with time travel and a ghost. Had to share. 🙂
Literature lovers, come on in and try your hand at answering any or all of these fun questions about writing and reading. Here’s a cup of tea to sip on while you consider your answers. (Your favorite kind of tea? What a coincidence.)
1. What’s your favorite book cover?
2. Do you read books more than once? Which ones?
3. What’s the scariest thing about writing?
4. What is the most amazing thing about writing?
5. Where is your favorite place to write? To read?
6. When’s your best time of day to write? Why?
7. What are some of your favorite words?
8. What’s one thing that would tell you you’ve “made it” as a writer?
9. In terms of writing or reading, what’s the best thing anyone could say to you right now?
10. Insert your own question here and then please answer it (because I couldn’t think of a tenth question).
11. Have you ever been published? Where? (I did come up with a tenth question, oh well.)
My first mistake was to get, not one, not two, but three delicious novels all on the same day. Each has exactly the kind of lyrical, sweep-me-off-my-feet writing I’m in the mood for. Each features a fabulous opening passage and is highly recommended.
Now for my quandary: Which novel do I read first? Fellow bibliophiles, you haven’t steered me wrong yet. The nominees for first book to read are:
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Though I’m not usually a reader of werewolf stories, Stiefvater’s artsy tweets tipped me over the edge.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – I’ve read so many fabulous reviews of this book, just had to get it.
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – Can you believe I’ve never read a Margaret Atwood book? Not even the Handmaiden’s Tale. It was time.
I hate cliffhangers. There, I said it. I don’t mean cliffhangers in the middle of a story, of course — those are great. I mean a cliffhanger ending to a novel — it’s a cheat, a crutch, a convenient device. Inherent in every novel there’s a silent contract between writer and reader, included in which is a proper ending! What should drive readers to want to read the next book is compelling characters and great writing, not — I repeat — a cliffhanger ending.