Still, I think that readers of MG fiction usually want the book's hero or point of view character to have at least some likable qualities. Eight- to twelve-year-olds have a fairly “black and white” view of the world. They notice when friends or their parents aren’t following the rules. And they appreciate knowing who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
Kids also have a lot competing for their attention. They’re likely to give up on a book if there’s something about it they don’t like. And that includes the characters. So, it’s okay, and even preferable if the villain is or becomes highly unlikable. (That follows the rules.) But the hero? If you’re trying to create a main character your readers connect with, they need to be able to see a little bit of themselves in the character…and would you see yourself in character you don’t even like?That doesn’t mean your main character can’t be the playground bully. But even if your heroine has some traits most people would say are unlikable, such as bossiness or a bad temper, there have to be reasons why the reader should care about her.
Have you read any MG books with an unlikable main character? Any tips on making your own main character more likable?
Jody Hedlund began a great discussion on whether the maincharacter needs to be likable, and some ways to create likable characters.
Over at Adventures in Children’s Publishing, Martina talks about the issue of character likability, with examples from The Hunger Games.
Juliette Wade writes on whether we need to like characters or just relate to them.At the Blood Red Pencil, Janet Fitch uses examples to show how to help readers connect to a character that seems unlikable.
Roni Loren gives practical tips for helping readers connect to unlikable characters.And more tips from L.B. Schulman, writing about creating likeable characters we love.