Making jerks bearable.

Currently Listening To: Danger Line, by Avenged Sevenfold

Anti-heroes. According to Wikipedia:

In fiction, an antihero (sometimes antiheroine as feminine) is generally considered to be a protagonist whose character is at least in some regards conspicuously contrary to that of the archetypal hero, and is in some instances its antithesis.

One of my favorite anti-heroes?

Dr. Gregory House

Yes, Dr. Gregory House. He saves people’s lives, so people like to root for him. Of course, how he ends up saving people (or at least figuring out what’s wrong with them) isn’t exactly heroic (Google episode guides and you’ll see what I mean). He claims he only saves life to get the thrill of solving a medical puzzle.

Anyway, as I am imagining my characters, one of them is pretty much, for a lack of better words, a jackass. Extremely arrogant and rude, he thinks the world revolves around him. His actions are questionable.

I’m sure you know someone like this. You hate his or her guts. Hell, even I hate these kind of people!

So if I can’t handle these type of characters, how can I expect readers to handle them? Why read a book where a protagonist is the kind of person you never want to be around with?

Here’s some possible answers:

  • Readers like to connect with the human side of characters. We’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. Seeing the protagonists make a questionable decision or take the less ethical path in order to overcome an obstacle appeals to us (sometimes) because we know what it feels like. We all have dark thoughts once in a while.
  • Another point to consider is the character’s past. He or she could be a repulsive jerk because they were forced to kill someone and it haunts their mind every day. Certainly a traumatic experience that can change a person.
  • Sometimes we like to root for an anti-hero because he or she is the lesser of two evils.

Points like these are what are influencing me in designing a character that is far from a saint…but has some character trait that makes you root for the character, or at the very least makes you give the character a chance to connect with you.

2 responses to “Making jerks bearable.

  1. I love an anti-hero. A lot of my characters would fall into this category but there is a very fine line between getting it right and getting it wrong.

    Done well anti-heroes can be some of the best characters because there tends to be so much depth to them.

  2. Agreed. As I mentioned before, if the anti-hero in question is nothing but a complete jerk, why would the readers want to root for him or her? There has to be some trait, event, etc. that connects us to the character and makes us want to root for him or her.

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