As I’ve been working on revising my fairy tale (yet again) I’ve been thinking about something my agent said in her comments about one of my two main characters: You need to make us fall in love with him. Easy task, right? Um. Yeah.
One of the things that makes characters relatable is when we see what they care about. So I decided to really go with that. My character’s young nephew had been in the picture before, but in this round of revision I’m making my MC’s relationship with him more prominent. After all, who doesn’t love a guy who’s good with kids?
But amping up the relationship with the nephew isn’t just a cheap trick to make my protagonist more likable. It’s a way of showing us a different side of his personality, and it’s also setting up more for him to lose. This wasn’t in previous drafts of the story, but now I’m realizing that the nephew might have to be put in harm’s way a bit more since he is so important to my MC. Sorry, kid!
Something else I’ve been thinking about that often makes a character likable is his/her sense of humor. But here’s where things get tricky. My MC is a bit glum (rightfully so after all he’s been through) and he’s not exactly the joking type. Once he meets the other MC, he lightens up a bit, but his sense of humor remains in the background. I’ve been thinking of ways to bring it in more, but it doesn’t quite feel natural. Now I’m thinking maybe his lack of a sense humor is something I can play up more, make it more of a quirk.
It’s a slow process, making a character lovable. Ultimately, I think it’s about making him sympathetic but also complex. You want that character to feel like a real person, since his faults can be just as endearing as his strengths.
What makes you fall in love with a character? Are there techniques you’ve used to make your characters more lovable?
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