It Happens to the Best of Us

Happy Sunday, Everyone!  I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

This week I’d like to talk about how I almost decided not to include an argument in my current project. Why? Because I thought it would make the characters unlikable.

That got me to thinking about two things:

The first was that this is taking place in chapter 32. If my characters weren’t likable by this point, they weren’t going to be.

The second was the question of whether or not they should be likable all the time.

Think about your best friend for a moment. Ever had an argument with them? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that you have. And that’s ok. You’re both people. You’re bound to have a difference of opinion sooner or later.

Add to that tension, the usual day to day stresses, or even a bad day, and you may end up being briefly unlikable.

And that’s ok. We’re human that way. Your characters (yes, even the non-human ones) should be that way too. It happens to the best of us.

Now that doesn’t mean that you’ve got license to fly way off the rails. Fiction needs to make sense. But you know your characters, so you know what would would be an appropriate, or inappropriate response.

Want an example? Ok, let’s talk about this guy:

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Anakin Skywalker. Attack of the Clones Anakin Skywalker no less, but hear me out.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll recognize this picture. He’s on his way to a monumental emotional gut punch.  And he reacts badly.

But not out of character.

According to Canon, during Attack of the Clones, Anakin is nineteen going on twenty. I kinda remember that time – not the vanguard of good decision making.

So he breaks. Understandably so. Did he go too far? Certainly.

But by the end of the movie, you’re still rooting for him. He admits to slaughtering children, and you’re still rooting for him.

I think there’s a couple of reasons for that.

The first is that said slaughtering happened off screen.  If the filmmakers had shown it, I don’t think there would have been any way to come back from that.

The second is that we *Know* what’s going to happen eventually to this character. He is destined to become the most recognizable villain in the world, so we’re willing to swallow some things that we otherwise wouldn’t stand for.

The third is the scene right after he gets back, with Padme, where he admits to what he’s done. Say what you want about the movie, but that scene where he asks “Why couldn’t I save her?” shows a ton of raw emotion, and pain.

We can relate to that.

That relating to the character is key.

We all have bad days, we all make bad decision under the influence of anger, frustration, pain. So too will your characters.

So don’t shy away from showing some of the shady underside of your character’s personalities. If we care about them, we’ll get why they do what they do, we might even do the same thing under the same circumstances.

Not killing baby Sandpeople. That’s a step too far.

 

Until next time,

Be Safe Y’All.

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