Tag: Writing Wednesday

#WritingWednesday: Are Unlikable Characters a Showstopper?

Posted 24 June, 2015 by DLWhite in Writers Write 0 Comments


Old antique books — Photo by dorian2013

I feel like I’ve written about this before but it’s on my mind since I saw something flash by on Twitter the other day. An agent was doing a #tenqueries series, where they pick ten queries from the slush pile and talk, in general terms about whether they would request pages or pass. This agent passed on a project because the protagonist sounded annoying and she didn’t like her.

Which, I suppose I understand. You want to have someone to root for, when you read a book. But somehow this likability thing became the nail upon which to hang a book and I don’t necessarily agree with that.

One of my favorite authors, Gillian Flynn, is queen of the unlikable protagonist. From Camille in Sharp Objects to Libby in Dark Places to Amy Dunne in Gone Girl (good GOD AMY DUNNE), Flynn writes characters that you don’t necessarily like on page one. But the story is still compelling, so you wade through the prose to find the plot and watch the story progress and the characters ARC. Either they get better or worse, but there is a change in each character. And either you like the character more……. or less when the story is over.

I recommended Flynn’s books to a lot of people. And a lot of people said, I hate these people! How can you read this? I hate them!

My answer? I don’t have to like the characters to enjoy the book. Liking the characters doesn’t even really come into play for me. Terrible people have a story. There’s a reason they are terrible. I want to know that reason. Even the villain in a book has a backstory. I’m nosy. I want to know what that story is.

Maybe I just like drama, but an unlikable character is not a show stopper. In fact, if I hate a character on page one, I’m probably more apt to read the book just to find out if they get better or worse.  I love to hate a villain, strive to understand a complicated character, really try to dig deep into a complex protagonist. I don’t want to sweat while I read, but I don’t mind a little bit of work to understand a full story.

How about you?

Do you need to like the characters in a story? If you don’t like a character, what are the major reasons why– personality, life choices, language, not developed enough?


#WritingWednesday- Same Time Next Week: The Meeting

#WritingWednesday- Same Time Next Week: The Meeting

Hi folks! I picked a fun snippet for today from my first #NaNoWriMo project, Same Time Next Week. There’s a bit of language in this one so… read at your own risk!  Also please note that this story is fanfiction so if that doesn’t float your boat, it won’t hurt my feelin’s none! Read the full story at the NF archive HERE or my personal archive HERE.

Writing Wednesday- On Writing & Tools of the Trade

Writing Wednesday- On Writing & Tools of the Trade

Hi, friends! I have a tiny update on the progress of the book and I want to talk about the tools we writers use to stay on task and write our writes. On Writing Writing last week was a bit lackluster, but I made up for it on Sunday with about 4,000 words. Monday night I didn’t write and yesterday I got in about 1,500 words over the course of the day, including one session of 1K1H (one K one hour, where we commit to writing 1,000 words or one hour, which ever comes first). I am up to 27,000 words and have reached nearly the end of chapter 5, when the pot is just beginning to stir on the scandal that is beginning to tear my friends apart. This is the point where I really like the story and can’t seem to get the words out of my head fast enough. It’s a great feeling. Tools of the Trade Last night, as I was using my iPhone to record myself reading a portion of chapter 5, I started to think about all the nifty gadgets I use to make this writing thing possible. There’s:

Writing Wednesdays: That “All Is Lost” Moment + Progress!

Writing Wednesdays: That “All Is Lost” Moment + Progress!

It’s Wednesday! We’ve made it to mid-week and we’re still here and kicking! Congratulations! Today, for Writing Wednesday, I will update (in generalities) on how writing my novel is going, but first I wanted to encourage my readers to please check out a meaningful, applicable post at StevenPressfield.com. It’s all about that “All Is Lost” moment, when the shiny, brilliant glow of writing something new wears off and you read back on the (possibly) hundred or so pages you’ve written, declare it crap and want to hurl yourself off of a cliff, because you suck and you’ll never be a good writer, and other such temper-tantrum utterings. Not that I know what that’s like, or anything. In fact, I’d venture to say that the All Is Lost moment is where I have stopped in the past. It’s where I give up, because why would I waste my time writing a bad book that will go nowhere and not be sold and I’ll be embarrassed to bring it up? You know why? BECAUSE. That’s the only reason we need. When it’s finished, it might still be garbage, as the subject of Steve’s post claims. But it will be finished, and so will my novel. It will be the single most important thing I’ve completed in my writing career and even if it goes nowhere, I can say I did it. And then do it again. On Writing Writing is going really, really well. Mind you, today is day 8, so I’m still pretty shiny and brilliant. I have a loose plot structure and an end point in mind, and I am going a few chapters at a time, drilling down to the minutiae and what I want to cover, what has to happen now in order for certain things to occur later on. I’m a little shocked at how one of my characters came out. I had a hard time forming her, because some of her behaviors don’t paint a pretty picture of her. However, when […]

Writing Wednesday: Fat Guy in a Little Coat

That has nothing to do with anything, it’s just funny to me and it came to mind this morning when I woke up. It’s February 1, and today I start writing my new project. Well, to be clear it is my new OLD Project and I am REstarting it. I tried to be one of those hip, cool writers that just write scenes and then put them together later and I had about 4 scenes written that were just directionless blather and I was lost and gave up. And then I took a month off from reading and writing because I was so frustrated. Six months later, I’m going at it again with something that resembles a plot and, knowing that I am a linear writer, I am starting at the beginning and writing my way through. I’m nervous about it, if I’m honest. I have a history of getting to the end of Chapter 1 and then thinking…….well, now what? Hopefully that’s where the plot comes in. It’s like knowing what a book is about but not what happens in it. I can’t plan every page, but I know my major beats… it’s getting TO them that’s the challenge. And if you need something to laugh at, watch Chris Farley bust out of a too-small wool coat. It eases the tension! Anyone starting something new, digging up something old to bang on, working on something today? Please share in my excitement!

Writing Wednesdays: Inspiration

Writing Wednesdays: Inspiration

Well, it’s another Wednesday, the hump that represents mid-week. By this point in the week I like to be knee deep in my weekly goals and challenges to myself. I have been reading and writing like a fool, so good going so far.  I’m hitting a bit of a hurdle in my current story but I am making an effort to overcome it. I’m also doing a lot of reading for research on the topic of Schizophrenia. The stories are just… larger than life, you know? I’ve also been keeping up on the blogs. The theme among the blogosphere lately seems to be inspiration. How do you get it? What sort of thing brings you the most inspiration? What person/place/thing/idea sends you flying to your writing corner and makes you bang on your WIP or scribble in your notebook? I like talking about things that inspire me, so I’ll list some of mine here. GOOD WRITING The number one, numero uno, primero point of inspiration for me is excellent writing. I love getting lost in another writer’s words, whether it be a published book or an online story or a great blog post. Writers who share their craft with others help me feel like I, TOO, CAN BE A WRITER! LIFE Life imitates art and art imitates life and it’s all such a never ending cycle.  When people I know talk about situations they’ve dealt with, some of those stories stick with me. I tuck them away in my mental list of plot points and twists that I might want to use later. A witty conversation overheard in the elevator, or the way someone says something might get written down or emailed to myself as soon as I get to my desk. I take pieces of people and places and things and jobs and attitudes and store it all away in my head where an ever-growing monster builds and eventually must claw its way out, onto paper. Or computer screen. […]