April 03, 2020, 06:24:53 PM

Author Topic: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.  (Read 1865 times)

Offline Peat

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2019, 12:30:49 PM »
I agree Interesting trumps likeable. There are plenty of Grimdark MC's who have few likeable traits.

This comment has inspired me to clarify: not just interesting... I need a reason to want to see the character succeed/win/survive/whatever. There are a number of MCs (not solely grimdark, but often) where I would cheer if they died in a ditch, and I don't finish those books any more, regardless of how interesting the world or the character or the plot is.

So maybe this is what the original post is about, but honestly, why would I want to spend my time with someone I intensely dislike? I don't do that in real life, I won't do it in fiction either.

Guess that raises a question - for everyone who doesn't put much of a onus on liking the MC, have far have you gone with an MC where you'd cheer if they were found dead in a ditch? Or if you didn't care whether they succeeded or not?

Because I got people being patient for beyond a few chapters, even if I'm not. But how long does patience go? Or is it just that some people don't form such strong negative reactions to characters as others?
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline Matthew

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2019, 12:44:36 PM »
I agree Interesting trumps likeable. There are plenty of Grimdark MC's who have few likeable traits.

This comment has inspired me to clarify: not just interesting... I need a reason to want to see the character succeed/win/survive/whatever. There are a number of MCs (not solely grimdark, but often) where I would cheer if they died in a ditch, and I don't finish those books any more, regardless of how interesting the world or the character or the plot is.

So maybe this is what the original post is about, but honestly, why would I want to spend my time with someone I intensely dislike? I don't do that in real life, I won't do it in fiction either.

Guess that raises a question - for everyone who doesn't put much of a onus on liking the MC, have far have you gone with an MC where you'd cheer if they were found dead in a ditch? Or if you didn't care whether they succeeded or not?

Because I got people being patient for beyond a few chapters, even if I'm not. But how long does patience go? Or is it just that some people don't form such strong negative reactions to characters as others?

The last two books in the Mistborn trilogy. Mostly the secondary lead, but both were just irritating for many reasons.

Offline Peat

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2019, 01:09:45 PM »
I agree Interesting trumps likeable. There are plenty of Grimdark MC's who have few likeable traits.

This comment has inspired me to clarify: not just interesting... I need a reason to want to see the character succeed/win/survive/whatever. There are a number of MCs (not solely grimdark, but often) where I would cheer if they died in a ditch, and I don't finish those books any more, regardless of how interesting the world or the character or the plot is.

So maybe this is what the original post is about, but honestly, why would I want to spend my time with someone I intensely dislike? I don't do that in real life, I won't do it in fiction either.

Guess that raises a question - for everyone who doesn't put much of a onus on liking the MC, have far have you gone with an MC where you'd cheer if they were found dead in a ditch? Or if you didn't care whether they succeeded or not?

Because I got people being patient for beyond a few chapters, even if I'm not. But how long does patience go? Or is it just that some people don't form such strong negative reactions to characters as others?

The last two books in the Mistborn trilogy. Mostly the secondary lead, but both were just irritating for many reasons.

What kept you reading?
This is the blog of Peat - http://peatlong.blogspot.co.uk/

Offline The Sword in the Tome

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2019, 02:26:59 PM »
If a book is highly-acclaimed I'll usually finish it even if I have major issues with the story, for example: not liking the main character.  That way I can at least say I've read the book.  I did that with Gaiman's Neverwhere earlier in the year.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2019, 04:12:42 PM by The Sword in the Tome »
My YouTube fantasy book review channel: The Sword in the Tome

Offline Matthew

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #19 on: December 23, 2019, 06:10:39 PM »
@Peat Mostly the worldbuilding and curiosity. They were easy to read too, so I still enjoyed them, even if I frequently sighed or snarled at the stupidity of various characters.

I also like to finish a series once it's begun, just to get it wrapped up - I can't have more than a handful of trilogies I started but didn't finish, and some of them still nag at me.

Offline Elfy

  • Writing contest regular
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 7271
  • Total likes: 782
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
    • Purple Dove House
Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #20 on: December 23, 2019, 08:36:27 PM »
I agree Interesting trumps likeable. There are plenty of Grimdark MC's who have few likeable traits.

This comment has inspired me to clarify: not just interesting... I need a reason to want to see the character succeed/win/survive/whatever. There are a number of MCs (not solely grimdark, but often) where I would cheer if they died in a ditch, and I don't finish those books any more, regardless of how interesting the world or the character or the plot is.

So maybe this is what the original post is about, but honestly, why would I want to spend my time with someone I intensely dislike? I don't do that in real life, I won't do it in fiction either.

Guess that raises a question - for everyone who doesn't put much of a onus on liking the MC, have far have you gone with an MC where you'd cheer if they were found dead in a ditch? Or if you didn't care whether they succeeded or not?

Because I got people being patient for beyond a few chapters, even if I'm not. But how long does patience go? Or is it just that some people don't form such strong negative reactions to characters as others?
The not caring about the character is an interesting one for me. That's largely why I gave up on Malazan in the 3rd book. I'd read 2 and a half books and I really didn't care what happened to anyone in it.
Unlikeable, but interesting MC's are a different case. I love George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman books, but Harry is a horrible person, yet weirdly enough I find myself invested in him enough to actually want him to come out on top.
I will expand your TBR pile.

http://purpledovehouse.blogspot.com

Offline Neveesandeh

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #21 on: December 23, 2019, 09:08:40 PM »
I agree Interesting trumps likeable. There are plenty of Grimdark MC's who have few likeable traits.

This comment has inspired me to clarify: not just interesting... I need a reason to want to see the character succeed/win/survive/whatever. There are a number of MCs (not solely grimdark, but often) where I would cheer if they died in a ditch, and I don't finish those books any more, regardless of how interesting the world or the character or the plot is.

So maybe this is what the original post is about, but honestly, why would I want to spend my time with someone I intensely dislike? I don't do that in real life, I won't do it in fiction either.

I once had an idea for a book where the MC was deliberately unlikeable, based on a variety of protagonists from different books that for some reason or another I hated, and at the end of the book he actually does end up dead in a ditch.

I haven't found many stories that actually do that though. I think it's quite a difficult thing to pull off, keeping a reader invested in a story where they actively want the protagonist to lose. Especially if for most of the story it looks like they won't.

Online Eclipse

  • Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4758
  • Total likes: 2359
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2020, 07:52:31 AM »
Saw a post in Facebook today about Jorg.

I won’t touch the broken empire series because I’ve heard Jorg is not a nice guy

Is this the end of grimdark  and unlikable but fascinating characters  😀 I’m seeing more and more of this  sort of comments.

To turn it around which characters do you find likeable with lots of fascinating layers on top of them?
« Last Edit: February 22, 2020, 09:08:40 AM by Eclipse »
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 11737
  • Total likes: 6766
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2020, 08:14:37 AM »
Saw a post in Facebook today about Jorg.

I won’t touch the broken empire series because I’ve heard Jorg is not a nice guy

Is this the end of grimdark 😀
To this I say "good riddance", leave him to those who appreciate him.

There are many series "I won't touch", for different reasons.

There will always be different genres.

(sorry, not in a good mood after reading that and the 'escapism' thread, but I'll still keep this post)
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

I'm "She Who Reigns Over Us All In Crimson Cheer", according to Peat!

Online Eclipse

  • Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 120 days.
  • Dragonrider
  • ***
  • Posts: 4758
  • Total likes: 2359
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2020, 08:51:16 AM »
I was wondering if Mark Lawrence released Prince of Thorns today would it sell?
According to some,* heroic deaths are admirable things

* Generally those who don't have to do it.Politicians and writers spring to mind

Jonathan Stroud:Ptolmy's Gate

Offline isos81

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #25 on: February 22, 2020, 09:09:52 AM »
There were many times that my opinion about characters changed throughout the series (I gave the example of Mat and Perrin couple of times here). So, I really try hard to not be prejudiced before even starting reading a book.
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Online ScarletBea

  • Welcome party and bringer of Cake. 2nd-in-Command of the Writing Contest
  • Powers That Be
  • Big Wee Hag
  • *
  • Posts: 11737
  • Total likes: 6766
  • Gender: Female
  • Geeky Reading Introvert
    • View Profile
    • LibraryThing profile
Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #26 on: February 22, 2020, 02:15:12 PM »
I thought I had replied originally - my example of "changing my opinion about a character who I started by hating and ended up loving" is Malta Vestritt from Robin Hobb's books :)

As for your question, Eclipse, I think so: you can see this by the fact it continues to sell (I assume to people who still haven't read it) and it's always being 'rediscovered', like other series have done to me.
At home in the Fantasy Faction forum!

I'm "She Who Reigns Over Us All In Crimson Cheer", according to Peat!

Offline Peat

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #27 on: February 22, 2020, 05:09:53 PM »
I was wondering if Mark Lawrence released Prince of Thorns today would it sell?

Probably yes. Maybe not quite as well for being one of a herd rather than mould breaking, but it would sell. Grimdark continues to sell and there continues to be new Grimdark. Maybe it has less of a grip on the market than it once did but I think it's still got a substantial one and that's not going anywhere. Don't measure a genre by those who dislike it, measure by those who love it.

Offline Rostum

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #28 on: February 22, 2020, 07:48:47 PM »
Yeah I think cuts would be made To Prince of Thorns before it was picked up.

I hate to go on, but a very serious attack is being made on freedom of speech and expression at the moment and it is being dressed up as virtuous behaviour. You don’t have a free society without free speech. It's one of the tennets of a democratic society.

Offline cupiscent

Re: Do main characters have to be likeable straightaway in this day and age.
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2020, 05:15:29 AM »
Yeah I think cuts would be made To Prince of Thorns before it was picked up.

I hate to go on, but a very serious attack is being made on freedom of speech and expression at the moment and it is being dressed up as virtuous behaviour. You don’t have a free society without free speech. It's one of the tennets of a democratic society.

I don't see any signs of grimdark in fantasy slowing down just because some people don't want to read it.

And free speech prevents the government from locking you up. It doesn't--and shouldn't--stop people refusing to pay money to hear what you have to say.