Author Topic: Hate the main character, hate the book?  (Read 2441 times)  

Offline Doglover

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Re: Hate the main character, hate the book?
« Reply #75 on: June 13, 2018, 12:26:29 AM »
I recently got a review where the reader said she "didn't like the heroine at all!" because she (the heroine) was an immature user. (I'm paraphrasing).

She made no comment about whether or not she thought the novel was engaging and well written. She gave it a star rating lower than the couple of others received so far.

On balance, having reflected, I find it kind of amusing and am glad that the characters evoked such strong feelings in her. But now I am considering whether it would be better to create more likable heroines in the future.

To the more experienced writers - does this often happen? Do readers tend to judge your novels on whether or not they like the hero / heroine? If so, do you think that's unfair? Or do you just accept it and write more likable heroes/heroines?

As a reader, do you enjoy a novel less and/or give it lower ratings when you don't like the main character?

Is it possible to *love* a book although you think that the main character sucks as a person?
My second book had a review which said the heroine was difficult to like. Since it was written in first person and more or less me, I found it quite amusing! Mind you, it was still five star so I didn't mind too much.

As to not liking a book if the heroine is unlikable, well I for one could not stand Scarlett O'Hara. She was a totally spoilt little brat and probably deserved the miserable ending she got, but it didn't stop the book from being one of the major bestsellers of all time.


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Offline My Dog's Servant

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Re: Hate the main character, hate the book?
« Reply #76 on: June 13, 2018, 04:40:02 AM »
See, I wrote that heroine the way I did because the heroine in my first novel was kind of a goodie-two-shoes, and it was a fun change to write someone who was a bit more flawed and rash and not at all like me. I don't think she's irredeemable (in fact the novel is kind of about her redemption through love), and I thought she would be interesting and more complex to read about, which would be the trade-off for the character flaws.

Although you've already gotten a ton of answers, I couldn't resist. This made me flash on a Laura Kinsale book years ago--don't remember the title, but medieval with the hero called the Green Knight or something similar. I hated the book because the heroin was so horrible.....and then, almost at the very end, Kinsale revealed why she had behaved the way she did. Totally changed my perspective on the character and made her deeply sympathetic but, for me, Kinsale had put it way too late. Had she given me even a few hints much earlier in the story I would have been intrigued, wanting to know more. As it was...just way too late. And that was disappointing because there was so much about that book I could have loved.

Haven't read Catcher in the Rye since high school, but I still have a visceral loathing for Holden .

I have loved difficult, imperfect characters, but there has always been some central key I understood early on that made them sympathetic even if I did want to slap them around. (Though they do have to change and grow. My sympathies extend only so far!)

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Re: Hate the main character, hate the book?
« Reply #77 on: June 13, 2018, 04:58:27 AM »

Early in Stephen Donaldson, Lord Foul's Bane, the MC Thomas Covenant rapes a teenage girl. I stopped reading at that point. I hated Covenant and I hated Donaldson. Was the novel 'engaging and well written'? I did not and do not care. I will never read Donaldson again.


Yes! I mentioned the same book/character earlier in the thread. I don't care how good the books are supposed to be, Covenant is irredeemable to me.

Yet others were totally cool with that and loved the series.

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Offline Puddleduck

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Re: Hate the main character, hate the book?
« Reply #78 on: June 13, 2018, 06:28:36 AM »
I have read a lot of novels and a lot of reviews. I stand by my opinion that a huge number of readers judge female characters more harshly than male.

None of my characters have ever committed rape OR violence against women. (I don't consider the mercy killing 'violence against women') People who don't like violence, don't like my novels. I am fine with that, but war is violent and brutal. Making it otherwise is a form of dishonesty that I find repellent.

I guess what I'm wondering is what your point is re: "a huge number of readers judge female characters more harshly than male". I've pointed out that it's not universal, and I've suggested that it's not desirable to use that opinion to suggest authors change the way they write to accommodate it. So are you simply making an observation, or were you trying to get at a larger point?

I think it's a bit disingenuous to leap from "rape" to "war violence" unless you're implying that writing about war must include writing about war rape in order to be not be "repellent dishonesty". The "but it's realistic" defense of rape and such doesn't really do anything for me because it's totally irrelevant. I know that rape in many situations is realistic. That doesn't mean I want it to be part of my leisure reading--which I do for escapism--unless there's a serious payoff afterward (which, as I've said, I rarely find there is). Not from the MC or any character we're supposed to get attached to, anyway. And I generally hate seeing it done against any female MCs or secondary characters, either. Basically, an MC raping or participating in/condoning rape = unlikable (to get back to the main point of the thread), and in a way that, unless there's a surprising payoff later, is something that's probably going to contribute to me hating the book. (I say contribute because if the MC is the kind of person to commit rape without some really serious remorse afterward, and the author is the type of person to write such events without including adequately balancing payoff, there are probably other things I will hate about the book.)

Offline Nick Marsden

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Re: Hate the main character, hate the book?
« Reply #79 on: June 13, 2018, 07:17:07 AM »
There was a fantasy series called "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant". The main character was a leper who, when transported to a fantasy world, becomes a "hero". But he's pretty much a dick through the whole book. But the series is rather popular, even though Thomas Covenant as a character is pretty much universally reviled. There was even a second series written for the character.

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Re: Hate the main character, hate the book?
« Reply #80 on: June 13, 2018, 08:03:55 AM »
A certain very popular author at the mo defends rape in their novels as it is realistic for the war setting. So is defecating, but that is seldom made a major plot point. I could cope with an MC who defecates, but not one who rapes. Indeed I don't want to have to deal with a minor character who rapes.


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