Star Wars: The Force Awakens has just opened to sold out audiences, and everyone loves the original trilogy’s villain, Darth Vader. But he is a favourite of many fans’. What about characters that are absolutely hated by readers? But what if those characters are hated by their creators?
Question 59 – Have you ever written a character so offensive that you hated or strongly disliked them?
Tracey Lynn Tobin
Yessir! But don’t worry, she’s evolved. She’s the main character from the four-part YA-fantasy series I’m writing right now, but she (and the story itself) have changed a massive amount since I first started writing it. Originally I started writing this particular story back in college, and I was using it as a form of cathartic therapy after my boyfriend of five years broke up with me. Because of a combination of little experience in professional story-writing and the wave of hormones that you can imagine would be sweeping through a 20-year-old who’d just been dumped, the story and the main character were just GOD AWFUL. My MC was basically the whiniest little brat you can imagine, who wouldn’t stop sobbing over the fact that the guy she’d loved had left her. My intention was for the character to grow and become strong and powerful and ultimately save an entire world, but my FOCUS was on making this character as pitiful as I felt. As a result, when I re-read what I’d written a few years later I almost threw up at how horrible it was. It was the kind of crap you actually see on bookshelves sometimes and think, “No wonder teenagers are idiots with crap like this to read.”
Yes. In a novel I wrote called Swan Queen, there is an evil uncle, who I intended to make a good antagonist by being evil with the best intentions. However, he crossed over to extra evil when he jokes about molesting his niece and kills his son’s puppy. Not only did I hate him, readers hated him, which works I suppose, but I’ll have to revisit him once I iron out that stories whole plot and see if he needs that level of evil to be truly effective.
S. R. Carrillo
Oh, yeah. Variety is the spice of life, after all. I can’t love every single one of my characters because then that’d likely mean they were all one-dimensional – or, at the very least, too similar to one another. Think of all those characters you “love to hate” – the author had to have felt the same at one point or another.
Back in high school I would write role-plays with friends of mine and a character named Jenna surfaced. She was a teenage drunk with a horrible personality who loved to pick on my friend’s gay male character. I played her as a villain, and I hated her. She was actually the result of personal issues I was struggling with at the time and a means for me to vent my anger toward substance abuse. Looking back, I regret creating her.
I have. His name was Johnny and he was an ignorant, abusive man. It was far from the genre of children’s lit that I was accustomed to writing in. I really despised this guy. But he got what was coming to him in the end. That’s the beauty of being the author.
H. Anthe Davis
So far in my entire series, I’ve only had one character whom I truly dislike. Of course, since I wrote him, I’m the one who made him unlikable and reprehensible, so I can’t really say that I hate him — more that he’s serving his purpose in the story. Everyone is supposed to hate him. It’s also my job to humanize him, and to understand how and why he took such a wrong turn in his life; I don’t like writing flat villains, and unlike the readers I can see how he could have turned out better. So really, there’s only distaste and pity and my plans for his demise.
Great question. This is much harder than it sounds, it seems to me. To really make a dislikable character that is not a caricature is tough. But yes, I’ve create a few that I have not liked. I did so by thinking about the people in my life that I most disliked. Not just disagreed with, but really hated because of their behaviors and what they have done to other people. Then I had some humanity to them, and hope the mix makes a despicable, realistic character.
Yes, I just did for NaNoWriMo. He’s such a detestable character that I wrote two endings to the novel. This character is murdered early on in the book, the rest of the book you find out how awful he really was. In one ending the killer is caught by authorities and in the other the killer gets away with it. He really deserved to die! Mystery readers can be very particular about how a book ends, but I really like the second ending.
Paul B. Spence
I don’t find all of my antagonists to be loathsome, but there’s bad, and then there’s evil, and most of the bad guys in my books are really, really evil.
The big bads in my stories are like Hitler and Stalin if they’d been given unlimited power and access to infinite worlds. They are literally older than time itself, at least in our galaxy, and HATE on a level that humans can’t even comprehend. So, yes, I hate them. Anybody who doesn’t, I would seriously worry about.
Gregory S. Close
I really hope so. There are a couple of villains that I’ve written that are pretty twisted and sick, and if I liked them I’d be worried about myself. Also, there are a few protagonists that are right on the line, sometimes!
D. T. Nova
Intentionally so, but I wound up disliking him so much that I’ve put more emphasis on another antagonist’s dislike of him than I had in mind at the start.
Jay Dee Archer
There’s one I’ve created that I would find a horrible person if he really existed. I don’t see much in the way of good in him, but he believes he’s doing the right thing. He’s a jerk, prejudiced, and won’t hesitate to kill to get what he wants. I do have another character I wouldn’t like, but her future is a lot more positive, eventually.
How about you?
If you are a writer, have you created a character you hate? If you are a reader, is there a character you hate? Let us know in the comments below.