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  1. #1
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    Is their a way I can make my main character more sympathetic and root-able?

    For my story, it's a cop who is tracking a serial rapist/killer type of villain and ends up becoming one of the rape victims of the villain as a result. The cop then wants revenge and uses his police power and resources to get it.

    However, other readers and writers have not been responding positively to the main character.

    They said that him trying to avenge his rape to the point where he completely snaps because of it, makes him look bad. One writer said that it makes him look like a "whiny little bitch", as he phrased it. A lot of the other comments said it looked bad, but were not as specific.

    Is their a way to make the main character not look like that and more root-able given his premise and his goal?

    Thanks for the input. I really appreciate it.

  2. #2
    Rogue Mutt
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    It's THERE not THEIR. How are you not getting that? That's like third grade grammar right THERE. How can you expect Hollywood producers to take you seriously if you can't master something as simple as that?

    Since you only share discombobulated tidbits here and there (Usually in response to why suggestions given to you won't work) I don't know why anyone here would have any opinion on how root-able or not your character is or how to make him more so.

  3. #3
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    I believe likeable characters are those that have flaws your audience can relate to or see in themselves. As for your character seeking vengeance: maybe he needs a more noble or higher purpose rather than he own personal vendetta. Just my thoughts. Thanks and good luck.

  4. #4
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    Well I talked to some more readers and here is what they said.

    They felt the main character didn't have anything unique about him that sucked them into the story.

    He is just your average everyman cop character. Even though he is seeking revenge for what happened to him, it doesn't happen to him till about halfway through the story, and he is not interesting before that they said.

    I see their point. I wrote it so that he was the opposite of the villain, which sparks the villain's jealousy, as the villain gets to find out more about him as he closes in on the case.

    Unlike the villain, the MC is mr. popular with the opposite sex, and has it all going for him. But I was told that any character can be mr. have it all, and getting married is so common, that that is exactly why the character is not interesting, because he's too common, and wants what everyone else wants.

    The readers said the characters have be interesting before they enter the main plot, which I can understand. Since I am writing a screenplay, I tend to use movies as examples. One movie that comes to mind with a common everyman character, is The Fugitive (1993).

    In that movie Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford), has things going for him before his wife is murdered and he is blamed for it. So what was it that made his character interesting and unique that the audience liked about him before the murder happened?

    I guess I just need to come up with some sort of unique drive for the character, prior to the rape, or prior to him getting the case, even. What do you think?

  5. #5
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    I guess I just need to come up with some sort of unique drive for the character, prior to the rape, or prior to him getting the case, even.
    You're approaching it as if you're a camera following him around as he lives. But listen to your readers, who have already identified the problem: everything that happens before the case that set him on seeking revenge is trivia, as boring as what he had for breakfast to a reader for the last week. Story isn't the procession of events. It doesn't lay in "getting to know the character." That's history, not story. It's a chronicle, a report, where you're informing the reader, not entertaining them. And since the reader is with you only to be entertained, you have no story before the sequence of events that resulted in his rape. And trying to generate story by making him "interesting," and following him with a camera, is a waste of time—or perhaps another story.

    In essense, any story is about solving a problem. The character has a predictable life, even if it sucks. And s/he's accepted it, for bad or good. But then, something happens that kicks him/her out of the rut. It tests them and forces them to grow, change, and do things that would have been unthinkable in the past. That's interesting. What went before is only history. The events of the story center on a series of "Oh ****!" events where everything the protagonist tries, as s/he tries to resolve the "problem" fails in a way that raises the stakes and the danger, over and over, until it's all or nothing—the moment we call the climax.

    But more than that, your reader isn't interested in learning about the character's problem. They want you to make them feel as if they're living it in real-time as they read. They want to know the situation as the protagonist does. They want to participate in the decisions, so they have an interest in seeing if they work. They want to be made to care, to mirror the protagonist's actions. And I mean that literally. We have brain cells called mirror cells that allow us to watch someone doing something and mentally do it along with them as a means of learning. An example of that ability is demonstrated when you see someone else be hurt and feel real pain, yourself.

    And if the writing is vivid and real we can evoke mirroring in our reader, to make them feel the same emotion the protagonist does. But no way in hell can we do that with the report writing skills we learned in our school days. As proof I offer the fact that you weren't aware of the basic structure of what we call a story, and wrote a chronicle, as pretty much everyone does when our only writing skills are the ones we learned in our school days and use on the job.

    If you want to write exciting prose you first need to know the elements that make it up, from a publisher—and a reader's viewpoint. If you aren't aware of how a scene on the page differs from those on stage and film can you write one that will excite a reader?

    So while you think over the story, put some time aside for mastering the elements that make up a scene; for understanding the nuance of placing the reader into the character's viewpoint; for knowing how to end the beginning and begin the ending, and all the little tricks-of-the-trade.

    It won't be a matter of read something, say, "Aha," and then do it "right" from then on. It took you more than a decade to fully master the nonfiction skills the schools teach us. As Larry Brown observed, “There’s no such thing as a born writer. It’s a skill you’ve got to learn, just like learning how to be a bricklayer or a carpenter.”

    For a sampling of the issues you might browse the articles in my blog. But for the real answers go to the pros. Your local library's fiction writing section will have a selection available, so you can get a variety of opinions. But my suggestion, as always, is to seek the names Dwight Swain, Jack Bickham, or Debra Dixon on the cover.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
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    Okay thanks. The first half though, is very plot driven more than character driven, and in order for the rape to happen, a lot of things need to happen before it. The woman who rapes him does not know him or have motivation to rape him right off the bat.

    The story first starts out with a subplot, involving not only the MC, or the villain, but some other supporting characters who start off the subplot. This subplot leads to consequences, and out of those consequences come the main plot. But quite a few things happen in the first half, that still build up to that rape for it to happen, under the circumstances that it does. And if I change the first half, then that means I have to change the ending, which I do not want to do.

    So the first half cannot be changed, without most of the rest of the story falling apart, since it all builds towards a certain ending, not just with the MC and the villain, but with the supporting characters as well.

    As for reading about how to write fiction, I have read the book The Anatomy of Story by John Truby and could read others. Thanks for the suggestions.

    But you say I have no story before the rape. I was told by readers that's not the plot before the rape that is necessarily the problem, it's the characters who are not interesting until the rape happens. So since the first half is more plot driven, than character driven, what can I do to make the MC interesting, before his life changing event?

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