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When you hate your characters!

Emma_Clare at 12:00AM, Aug. 31, 2018

You’ve gone through the arduous process of fleshing out your world, the themes and the lore and you’re standing back looking at your shining new playground; but there is a blight standing right in the centre that you can no longer ignore. You hate your characters. Maybe it is the secondary characters, your central villain or, heaven forbid, the protagonist! Lucky for you the realm of fiction is infinite!

Most problems revolving around characters has to do with how well they have been explored and fleshed out. If you’re hating your players have a look at what it is about them that annoys you. Are they lacking complexity or flaws? Do they have little motivation to work towards enhancing the theme or plot? What is there stake in the story? Take the time to understand where it is they are coming from. It might be that the character can be used in a different story altogether or, alternatively, you can always rework the plot slightly to give them time to grow.

Your character, regardless of their part, has to want something. It is not character traits that drive a plot but desires. It could be that the player in question is lacking any drive to move the plot forward. From here there are two choices. You either redesign them to have desires (also referred to motivations) or you create a scenario where they are forced to act upon a desire. This could be as simple as revenge, anger or even the simple task of delivering a parcel. They need a reason to want to move.

Of course, the situation could be a reflection of what is going on with you. At times we hit roadblocks with our characters because we feel like, “it has been done before,”. The drive to constantly be unique handicaps many creators. Just remember that people are always looking for similar themes and tropes, so much so they become genres. So if you’re struggling with the idea that it’s been done before, put that aside for a moment and looking at your own desire as to why you want to explore that aspect of a character or story. It might reveal some interesting results.

Have you had characters you hated? How did you deal with them? Let us know in the comments below! And join us on Sunday evening for our Quackchat at 5:30PM(EST) where we’ll be talking about this topic!



AmeliaP at 7:15PM, Sept. 6, 2018

@bravo:"Don't let the door hit you on the butt on your way out." This!

AmeliaP at 7:13PM, Sept. 6, 2018

Great article! if I hate my characters? It depends on the kind of hate that we're talking about. I use a parameter to add a character in a story. If the character is an antagonist, I MUST love to hate him or her. It hast to be. If I don't hate them enough to like to hate (confusing, eh?), I dismiss or overhaul the character. As for the protagonist, I don't need to like her or him, but this character has to have a relationship with cool characters and create opportunities to keep a dynamic and organic story flow/pace, or I'll kill the character's idea and find another one. I'm pretty much with McFarlane when he says he needs to like his characters, because he was the person who spent the most part of time, drawing and writing about them.

usedbooks at 8:38AM, Aug. 31, 2018

(I was originally going to kill her off, but that was just too terrible. Certainly would have had impact... I don't know if I made the right choice.)

usedbooks at 8:36AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I sent one character away because she was a love interest for a more major character who I didn't want having a love interest any more. I managed to get her out of the story without breaking hearts. (Opportunity abroad, "let's stay friends" kind of thing.) She wasn't a disliked character, just no place for her in the story any more.

bravo1102 at 8:03AM, Aug. 31, 2018

Most of the time characters I don't really like don't make it through rewrite process. If they do and I sour on them; they die. I gave one a very meaningful passing but I moved up her death because I just didn't like how the character was developing.

usedbooks at 7:37AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I had two cases of peripheral characters I basically created to kill off but changed my mind, so they existed purposeless in the world. I always resented their surviving and tried to make them interesting characters and give them purpose. One has become a character I enjoy. The other one got the ax (or the garrotte), but she served some purpose in the meantime.

Banes at 7:25AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I've had the passive protagonist problem, and the bland protagonist problem...sometimes both! I've had sort of a Mary Sue issue, with a character seeming a bit too savvy, witty or whatever-y. If im in the planning stage I dig in and try to adjust with flaws, wants and stuff. If it's an existing character in an existing series I try and nudge it back on course on the next page or next chapter. If it's happening and I don't notice...then it's bad. Great article!

bravo1102 at 6:56AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I kill characters. I create ones to be hated and I will kill them. If there is one I can't stand she won't get a lot of screen time and will get sacrificed quickly. Don't let the door hit you on the butt on your way out.

IronHorseComics at 6:31AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I had not made one that I hate unintentionally, any character I hate it's one I wrote specifically to be hated. Not to say it won't happen, it just hasn't yet.

KAM at 5:20AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I had him stuffed in a trunk and shipped to Abu Dhabi. ;-)

KimLuster at 4:58AM, Aug. 31, 2018

With the Good Walker, I didn't exactly hate Rhiaan, but some about her just didn't work for me! I dunno if it was because she was too young, too boy-crazy, and I couldn't relate... or something else! But I had to give up on the story completely! Should I revisit that world, I'll certainly modify a few things!

usedbooks at 4:04AM, Aug. 31, 2018

I was really bad at writing antagonists when I was starting out. So my early bad guys had no depth or interest. Luckily, it was pretty easy to get rid of them entirely.

PaulEberhardt at 1:47AM, Aug. 31, 2018

In one story draft I disliked a character so much I discarded the whole thing altogether. That guy was so flat and pedestrian, that the other characters started to catch the same disease. The thing is that a character that annoys you isn't necessarily annoying enough to the readers that you can just drop a piano on him and be done with it. Also, you can do this only ever so often and in any case pianos should not be dropped lightly, as discussed in a newspost a few weeks ago. And I'm a guitarist and guitars just don't have enough stopping power anyway. ;)

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