Unlikeable Heroines

16 03 2012

This is the final post in C-Summers Week, a weeklong celebration of Courtney Summers and her titles.

When people read books, they want to relate and engage to the main character, feel with them, understand their emotions and feelings. But sometimes an author cleverly switches around that feeling, that expectation. Two of Courtney Summers’s books deal with this unlikeable heroine: Cracked up to Be and Some Girls Are.

Most readers of these two books acknowledge that they did not particularly identify with the heroines at at times, hated them. But somehow, they continued on with the story and started to understand the character more.

Is it easy to make this work?

Oh, absolutely not.

Let’s break the word “unlikable” down into its parts, as we did earlier in the week with the word edgy.



definition from dictionary.com

(of characters in literature or drama) tending to evokeantipathetic feelings; “all the characters werepeculiarly unsympathetic” [syn: unsympathetic[ant:appealing]

difficult or impossible to like

So, yeah. That’s not easy to do: create an unlikeable protagonist who people begin to care for.

HOWEVER, the word “unliekable” also brings on other questions. Like: do characters need to be likeable? Do we need to relate to them? Does fiction suffer when we have unlikeable characters?

Hard questions, folks.

And it’s harder to create unsympathetic characters, but more authors are beginning to create them.

What do you think?

Do characters need to be likeable?




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