I once read a chick lit novel where the main character's primary love interest was someone I didn't like at all. He was rude to customer service employees (although I will admit, after an HOUR of being on hold, I have been tempted to go all Shakespeare on certain customer service employees and shriek, "A PLAGUE on your houses...AND your phone company!") He was obnoxious and never apologized for it, especially because he never seemed to realize that the way he treated people was wrong.
This guy was condescending and dismissive of the main character's interests, as well as her hometown. I'll be the first to complain about some of Chicago's flaws, such as the fact that it is only warm about 1% of the year, and the rest of the year people only communicate through chattering teeth and five layers of clothes. (You may think I'm exaggerating, but I heard someone say recently, "It's supposed to be warm next week! The temperature's going to be in the double digits!") But I will head-butt any outsider who criticizes my beloved hometown, especially if they criticize my favorite deep-dish pizza place (because that just ain't right).
The love interest never really redeemed himself in the novel either, which is one of the reasons that he and the main character break up and she ends up alone by the end (which is unusual compared to most of the chick lit books I've read, where the heroine usually drives off into the sunset with her true love).
However, the author apparently kept trying to convince the reader that this guy was worthy of the main character's love, because the protagonist recognized his flaws but loved him anyway. It's one thing to accept that the one you love isn't perfect (especially because Prince Charming doesn't actually exist, no matter what fairy tales say), but it's another thing altogether to let him treat you and other people like crap over and over again while you insist that deep down he really is a nice guy. And that's exactly what the main character did, which made me like HER a lot less, despite the fact that she was otherwise a lot more likable than her love interest.
That chick lit novel reminded me of one of my favorite TV shows, Blue Bloods (what can I say? I'll take a cop show over a "I'm going to hook up with every doctor, nurse, and patient I encounter (cough, cough, Grey's Anatomy) show" or "I'm only going to be happy with my true love for about two seconds before some horrible villain shows up and distracts us for the next ten episodes where we'll only have time to look longingly at each other/whine about how complicated our relationship is for a few moments per episode (cough, cough, Once Upon a Time). I like all the characters on Blue Bloods, except for one recurring character: the female cop, Eddie Janko. (I DON'T have a problem with the fact that she's a cop.)
She was apparently brought in as a love interest for one of the main characters, Jamie, and they did share a kiss in one episode, though they ended up dating other people. Yet the writers seem to keep implying that eventually they will get together. If THAT happens, I'll stop watching the show, because I REALLY don't like that character. Not only is Eddie too immature and obnoxious, but she and Jamie don't have the same chemistry that he had with his other love interests. They act more like best friends or brother and sister than lovers. Although I like the show otherwise, seeing Eddie and Jamie's scenes with "romantic tension" bothers me, because I think he should be with one of his previous girlfriends.
When I was working on one particular story, I created a love interest for my main character who on paper seemed perfect for her. But the more that I wrote about their relationship, the more dissatisfied and frustrated I became. I liked that love interest; I just didn't like him with my main character. It wasn't just that they weren't right for each other. It was that he wasn't right for the story, and he probably belongs in another one (which at least gives me an excuse to write another story for him).
I found myself making the same mistake that that author did, where I made the main character keep saying that she really did care for him and that he really was a good guy. But I realized that if I wasn't convinced, how could I convince any readers in the future?
So I took that character out of the story, and another guy who had been only a minor character in my first draft became one of my protagonist's love interests (in many chick lit novels I've read, the main character has at least two: the right guy she bickers with but is secretly attracted to and the not-so-right guy who sweeps her off her feet). The new love interest changed the story as a whole, and he changed it for the better. And I, as the writer, felt happier and more satisfied with the story and the characters.
What about you? Do you ever read a story or watch a show that you like but that has a character that you don't like at all? If so, why didn't you like that character, and if you created him/her, what did you do about it?
Choose Words and Make Mayhem - A few years ago, *Rajani LaRocca * and I met at a writing retreat. After realizing we had way too many things in common to be coincidence, we became frie...
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