When we watch tv shows and films we naturally want to see the good guy or girl win. When we think of a likable character they almost always are nice people that possesses strong values are have a good character. The challenge is getting your readers and viewers to root for the bad guy.. you know the character that’s violent, mean and lacks good moral character. The best way to do this is by making the character relatable.
To execute this you have to put your character in situations that can allow your readers and viewers to relate to them or empathize with them in some way. For example let’s take a character who works as a doorman by day but moonlights as a hitman. Most readers and viewers aren’t going to like this type of character very much because they are killing people for money. However, if your hitman volunteers at a homeless shelter once a week or suffers from a debilitating disease your viewer or reader will start to like them and will secretly begin to root for them because you have humanized the character or given them an endearing quality. Now go create some truly memorable characters that are so screwed up your readers and viewers will remember them for years to come!
About the Author:
Isis Djata is the owner of Write Like the Pros which offers a series of instructional workshops on screenwriting. Isis, is also a filmmaker and she uses her independent film production company Locked & Loaded Films to produce and market her Pilot and Feature Film scripts. Isis, is a seasoned screenwriter with over seven years of experience crafting memorable stories. Isis has a B.S. in Journalism from Mercy College and a J.D. from Southern University Law Center. Isis has written numerous screenplays spanning various genres with eight projects currently in pre-production. Through her unique ability to create complex characters set amidst the backdrop of the ever changing worlds she creates for them Isis has mastered the art of compelling storytelling.
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2 thoughts on “How to Make Your Readers & Viewers Like An Unlikable Character”
I agree with the part about the hitman volunteering at a homeless shelter, when you give the viewer a way to resonate with a perceived “bad” character, it allows them to see that character in a more positive light.
Norman Bates is a excellent example of a character that evolved from likable to O.M.gosh this guy is a complete PSYCHO… Bloch’s novel to Stephano’s screenplay to Hitchock’s film and finally to Perkin’s acting all did this character justice — making Bates the most memorable villian in cinematic history (at least in my opinion). Thanks again for sharing. Post more, please.