One thing every writer and reader knows is that it’s the characters we hate, the loathsome, unforgiveable, narcissistic and annoying characters, that help advance the plot along. And most writers and critics will tell you that in order to have a good story, you need interesting characters, and rarely are perfect characters as interesting as the ones we can’t stand.
When I was in college one of my professors told me that in order to make a truly amazing story you have to give the antagonist the best lines. What does this mean? It means that no interesting story can be birthed from having a protagonist that is too good to be true. If the hero always wins, no one will be invested in the story because they already know the outcome. But a villain? Villains are always interesting, they have back stories, they laugh maniacally, they rant…who doesn’t want a good villain?
But it doesn’t have to be a villain. Any obnoxious, annoying character or a character with ulterior motives are also good. These black sheep characters add to the plot by being the interesting counter to the protagonist, they make conversations exciting and sometimes you hate them enough that you keep reading just to see them die. No? Well, maybe that’s just me. This includes those irrational characters who make horrible decisions with the best intentions. We as readers want to know why they make the decisions they do and why every other character keeps them around. Our curiosity is what keeps us reading and only an interesting or spiteful or aggravating character can keep us curious for long periods of time. True, we may love the main character and the quirky best friend but what would that relationship be like without a little conflict.
If you need more evidence, who do you like reading about or seeing more, the Joker or Batman? Most people will say the Joker and that is because he is an elusive, intelligent and psychotic maniac with a sick sense of humor while Batman is just the alter-ego of a rich and depressed orphan who never moved on from the murder of his parents.
So, are you working on a novel or screenplay? Have you taken a good look at your work? Is it too much of a walk in the park? And if you have a villain or antagonist, are they interesting or do they fall flat, like cartoon villains? If so, I suggest taking a look at the dialogue and the dialogue tags that you use. Changing a phrase or the way a character says something alters the entire scene. With just a word a scene can go from campy to mysterious to diabolical. It is important to have characters that confuse your audience, people that intrigue your readers and idiots that we really just want to watch die because those are the characters that make the story interesting.
Thanks so much for coming back to my blog and being a part of my bookish family! And if you aren’t we can change that. Just follow this blog, friend me on Goodreads and follow me on Instagram to stay in the loop of my crazy bookish excursions!
Thank you to all the authors who have allowed me to review their work! If you are a writer and would like me to review your story, just shoot me an email via my Contact page.
Lastly, if you happen to be a woman of color who writes or hopes to be a writer, consider joining my Women of Color Writing Circle!