Protecting Your Whiny Characters Likable


How do you deal with a whiny character? No one likes a whiner, however the reality is that actual folks whine every so often. Typically they’ve a cause to whine. In case your character is whiny, how do you retain from making readers sick of him?

Derek posted this query on my “Ask A Query For My Weblog” web page:

Character query: how do you write some intense character drama (each internally and externally) with out the protagonist coming off as mopey or unlikable?

Extra context: I’m writing a YA Science Fiction e-book for NaNoWriMo. I actually get pleasure from YA as a result of I actually just like the interpersonal relationships, character development, and many others. that appear to actually thrive in books for that viewers.

So the characters in my e-book are presently coping with a whole lot of drama. I really feel like I’ve made the protagonist sufficiently proactive, proficient, and likeable. Nevertheless, he’s presently mourning the lack of his dad and mom and he additionally grew to become estranged from his finest good friend after the inciting incident. Yay for battle, proper?

So my query is, how can I permit my character to grieve and develop, experiencing the very actual ache that accompanies his life circumstances with out him coming off whiny? I actually hate major characters who mope.

On this case, my protagonist remains to be being proactive and pushing the plot ahead, however he’s carrying a whole lot of disgrace and self-hatred that may accompany intense emotional wounds. This may make his inner dialogue fairly, properly, miserable.

Proper now, the protagonist and his finest good friend are each harm and treating one another considerably cruelly, therefore making choices which can be very plausible however might flip off the reader.

I’m loving the battle that each one of this has delivered to my novel. Nevertheless, I additionally know I’ve learn books with interpersonal conflicts which have actually irritated me as a result of extended nature of them. And the novel was much more enjoyable to write down when the protagonist and his finest good friend have been on good phrases. So the temptation is to simply go make all the things all higher actual quick, though I do know that will in all probability not be clever.

Randy sez: This can be a good query. I feel it’s vital to at all times ask why your reader reads.

Why Your Reader Reads

Your reader reads to have a Highly effective Emotional Expertise. Subsequently, you write to offer your reader with a Highly effective Emotional Expertise. However which expertise are you going to offer?

Completely different readers learn for various emotive experiences. You get to determine what readers you wish to enchantment to (your “Goal Viewers”), which suggests you get to determine what emotive expertise you’re promoting. When you determine that, then your solely job is to do an excellent job offering that emotive expertise.

If you happen to determine that you just’re promoting an emotive expertise that features recovering from deep emotional wounds, then write that form of story and don’t fear about annoying your Goal Viewers. Your Goal Viewers, by definition, needs to learn your form of story. Folks exterior your Goal Viewers, by definition, don’t wish to learn your form of story, however you don’t care.

That’s proper, you don’t care about folks exterior your Goal Viewers. As a result of you may’t. You may’t make everybody completely happy. A choice to make your Goal Viewers completely happy is a choice to not even take into consideration folks exterior your Goal Viewers.

I hope that provides you slightly freedom to write down the story you wish to write.

Steadiness, Steadiness, Steadiness

Now, having stated that, there’s such a factor as an unbalanced story. You clearly aren’t writing ONLY about deep emotional wounds. You’re making an attempt to create some distinctive mix of emotional experiences. You get to determine what that mix is. Then you could concentrate on giving precisely that mix to your readers.

Take into consideration The Starvation Video games. Is Katniss generally whiny and even unlikable? Positive she is. Typically. However she’s not ONLY whiny and unlikable. She’s not even MOSTLY whiny and unlikely. She’s simply sometimes whiny and unlikable. She has loads of good in her that overrides these. She’s robust sufficient to defy the foundations and hunt meals for her household. She’s bought a smooth spot in her coronary heart for her sister Prim—she volunteers to face virtually sure loss of life in Prim’s place. She’s bought a powerful survival intuition and she or he’s powerful and resourceful and she or he has a sure angle. The world is treating her grossly unfairly. She has a cause to whine. So she whines—for a bit.

Then she fights again. She fights again onerous, and generally lashes out at people who find themselves making an attempt to assist her. However the reader is OK together with her whining and her misplaced anger, as a result of it’s plausible and it’s in steadiness and she or he a minimum of acknowledges she has flaws and feels responsible about it. That’s the mix Suzanne Collins selected to offer. That’s the mix a whole lot of readers needed. It labored out fairly properly.

Derek, your query was a tactical one—how do you write that drama with out scaring away readers? The reply is that you just salt it in with out letting it get out of proportion. Early in your story, it is best to set up the mix of emotive experiences that you just’re going to provide your reader. As soon as your reader will get previous the primary few scenes, she ought to know what that mix is. You now have a contract with the reader to proceed with that mix for the remainder of the story. Maintain it in steadiness. If one scene goes a bit whiny, then the subsequent scene must go gentle on the drama and convey within the different emotive experiences you’re promoting.

Steadiness doesn’t imply that each scene should really feel the identical, emotively. It signifies that you alternate by the assorted emotive experiences that make up your distinctive mix.

Do this and your reader wins. When your reader wins, you win.

If you happen to’ve bought a query you’d like me to reply in public on this weblog, hop on over to my “Ask A Query For My Weblog” web page and submit your query. I’ll reply those I can, however no ensures. There are solely so many hours within the day.