How to write likeable characters? Make them vulnerable.
Make them have a lot of problems that are out of their control. Give them insecurities. Ultimately, if you’re really good, make people want to help them.
This assumes, of course that they are likeable in the first place. That’s the part that is sometimes referred to as “a quality.” They have to, well you just don’t want to take your eyes off them.
Another personification would be they have to be cool. They have that magic something that makes you want to follow, or put another way, get sucked-in.
To follow that even further, the worse they treat you the more you like them. No we’re not talking women and gender roles here (yet), but we could.
Some of the other adjectives are cliche’s: smart, funny, attractive, sexy.
It is especially hard for a housewife, for example, to be cool. If you can do it you’ve got a likeable character.
I’m not a film director. In fact, I know almost nothing about the technical aspects of film-making. But I did take a while to study writing and meet some writers, and many of them said writing is about people.
Imagine a woman with a lot of “intractable” (private joke) problems. The most unusual, or perhaps enviable one, is that men fall for her. She has a gift in this respect in that it is so rare–the beauty, or just the look, is something that is probably hard to create and even more difficult to fake. That’s the first part. That’s the part that helps lead to the rest.
Over and over she talks about how vulnerable she is–how everyone is trying to take advantage of her or hurt her. And if or when that happens, one reason is that they continue to love her despite everything. The worse she treats them the more they love her even. They love her through thick or thin. And they continue to love her.
She is also quiet, almost dark. That’s the part that surprises most people. Repressed. Accustom to people not listening to her. The “verbal” is there, it is just latent.
To make her even more likeable, she is quiet for the good of others. If she talks, family will be hurt, she thinks.
Vulnerable, quiet, and hurting. Brooding. Cool but cruel. The last two are something different, something else.
But that’s the P.S. and the reason they’re so likeable. You have to scratch those last two and hope they’ll go away. There has to be a happy ending. So keep coming back–just for them and for no other reason–to see if there is a happy ending.
Vulnerable and quiet. Vulnerable and quiet. Suppose you know it, would you act differently? Is there anything you can do? Would it have turned out differently?
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Over and over you said how you are so vulnerable, how you bleed too. Would it have been different if I had listened?
That is a really good question.
I also remember a woman who said “I have resources and I’m not going to take it” and who can take care of herself.
All because of The Wizard of Lies.