Monday, January 24, 2011

How much of a prick can the Main Character be?

I've been writing a YA/Sci-Fi thriller for a while, a long while. I knocked out the first 35,000 words in less than a month, back in July of 2010. Six months later I'm at the 45,000 word mark. Two things have been dragging me down.

First I'm really liking my characters and I've got to have them be really, really mean and hurt each other really bad. That way they show their true emotions to each other. It's something I'm dreading but I can plow through it knowing that it will get better after.

Second, In order to have my main character be realistic, I'm drawing from my experience in college. I've learned a bit about myself; I was a total prick. Sometimes adding bad character traits helps a character be more likable. In THE PIZZA DIARIES I started only having Brain have a good characteristic of mine, being totally unfazed by weird stuff going on around him. That was good but made him a little boring. I added a not so good characteristic of mine and that is drawing a line in my head as to exactly how far I will go, but not sharing that until the line is crossed then being stubborn as a mule about it. I can see now why some people think I have mood swings, but also why people like me.

With my main character in this novel the main character is sort of a dick to this one girl and although he apologizes to her he isn't in the least bit regretful. Throughout the book he is interesting and likable enough, but when it comes to how he acts with her he is pretty despicable.

So I was wondering what everyone thinks, if you're reading a novel and the main character has a really bad side to him, even though he's likable enough the rest of the time would that turn you off from the book? And how bad would a character have to act in one situation to turn you off from his being likable in the rest of the novel?

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts


Stephanie Barr said...

I have main characters that kill people with no remorse. I have mean characters, sarcastic characters, characters that use others, but there's always a line I don't cross.
I've gone into this on my blog. No rapists. No child abusers. No true sadists.

Almost anything else goes as long as they LEARN something. The no rapists/no child abusers/no true sadists apply to side characters are the side of good, too, but their reformation is optional.

Project Savior said...

In this book it's even more complicated as the true bad guy (worked with the Nazis, killed JFK and Lady Di, authorized human experimentations on hundreds of victims) is moving into his mind so occasionally his body does really evil things.
I suppose it helps the side characters are less trustworthy than the ones in "Three Days of the Condor."

Chudex's said...

Nice read, thanks for shared.