If my character has to go through a change, from bad to good, how can I make him likeable when he’s in his ‘bad’ stage?
It’s hard enough as it is to make your character likeable, but now you have to make him likeable when he’s doing something not likeable? How counterintuitive is THAT?
But there IS a way.
And I’m going to be showing it to you today!
Let’s get started!
The Number One Way to Making Your Protagonist Likeable:
Make Him Save a Cat
Okay, this probably sounds REALLY weird to you right now. Why in the world do I need my character to…save…a cat?
Okay, bear with me though, because this is PURE GENUIS, guys.
Your protagonist is going to be going through a character arc-usually a Positive Arc. During a LOT of your book, your protagonist is going to be kind of…not likeable.
Usually he’ll end up acting dumb, say or think some annoying things, and/or basically do a lot of non likeable stuff in life.
Which is totally fine because this shows to the readers that your character needs to change, and that’s exactly what you want!
But…you don’t want to make readers throw down your book in disgust because they can’t deal with your moody protagonist-that’s the opposite of what you want.
So that’s when you make your protagonist save a cat.
What I mean by this is, that, while your protagonist is sulking around living in his Lie-ridden world, having a poor mindset, etc, you as the author are going to suddenly make him see a cat in a tree and have him spring into action, climbing up and returning it to the ground before it falls to it’s death.
All of a sudden, readers will sit back in surprise and be like, “Oh. If he did that then he can’t be all that bad…”
Think about it: Someone, no matter who they are or what they’ve done, who decides to save a cat-maybe from a tree, from a ditch, from the road, etc.-will be someone other people like because of it.
If you saw someone run across the street, sweep up a random cat, and run off before a car comes, wouldn’t you say you’d love them if you love animals? (
don’t try that at home though, guys) The same things works on the readers when you make your characters do it.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t literally need to have your protagonist barrel onto the street and save a cat.
Because it can be a DOG.
Actually, just kidding, it can literally be anything.
Have your character feel sorry and help out a lesser person, have your character defend a weaker character, amp it up by having him save a child from getting run over, have him buy an ice-cream for an orphan toddler, have your character actually save a cat if that’s your heart’s desire!
Just make it as sad or epic or likeable or relatable as possible. Then you can show that your character really isn’t all that bad, and readers are allowed a spark of hope that your character will change--and he will! He just has to get kicked out of his Lie-ridden world by the Inciting Incident and BAM he’s on the road to change, and reader’s will be fine with it because some subconscious part of them will know he has some good in him that’s about to be brought out as they read on.
And that’s how they stick with your protagonist, even through all of his mistakes, and read your entire book to see him change into that better person that’s hidden somewhere inside of him.
Think Now: Think of a situation in the first few chapters of your book where you can have your character do something heroic, selfless, or just really nice that’ll make readers realize there’s hope yet left for your protagonist.
Give him at least one likeable and relatable trait/hobby/talent/love in life
Is he funny? (
always a winner right there *winks*) Is he really good at piano? Does she always draw in the afternoons? Give your character something that they do often that is likeable. Try to make it relatable, and relevant to the book. An irrelevant hobby/trait that has nothing to do with your book is just filler, and won’t do you any good.
For example, my character Will is really good with horses! And the horses love him back, so it kind of gives it this feeling that, like, if animals love him, he can’t be all that bad.
“Maybe the people don’t like me, but at least you do,” Will whispered, stroking the horse’s side.
random dramatic snippet because, hey, why not?
Later I’m planning on horses having a bit of a part to play in the book, so his love for animals and their love for him will come back full circle!
Think Now: What is some trait your character already possess or you can give them that’s relatable and likeable for the reader as well as relevant to the plot of your book? (Make sure it has an at least minor importance later on in the book!)
Creating a likeable protagonist while he’s off in the world thinking about things wrongly is wayyyyy up there in the toughest things writer’s need to pull off.
But you can do it!
Just make him save a cat.
What cat will your protagonist save?
Have you ever heard of this technique before? If not, was this post helpful for you?
Guys, tell me what YOUR cat’s are in your book!
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I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any questions or thoughts, leave a comment down below.
Thanks for reading!
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.ca/pin/232920611954043907/