CHARACTERS How can I make my characters more likable?


Morality Kitchen Sinker
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Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays
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A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
My Usual Online Time
I work full time, so I'm usually not on until after 6PM EST on weekdays. (Weekends are free game though.)
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, Futanari, Androgynous, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Very passive, but I'm trying to push in the other direction. Concrit welcome!
Favorite Genres
Urban/modern fantasy, psychological horror, fandom using OCs (no canon characters except in mentions!)
Genre You DON'T Like
High fantasy, historical, fan-based using canon characters (OCs only please!), anything involving heavy gun-based combat
A really common criticism I get is that most of my characters are unlikable. Historically I've brushed it off since I know full well that I like writing assholes; I have fun watching my characters get mad over inconsequential things or fire anime-esque quips back and forth at each other or even act really cruel towards people who don't deserve it because dammit, writing suffering is fun sometimes. But after a lengthy break from writing in general, I find myself with some fresh perspective, pondering over characters in my favorite fandoms who I would absolutely describe as insensitive bags of dicks yet still garner oodles of love from their fans, myself included.

I have some ideas for how I can elevate my own characters to this status, but I worry that they won't feel like themselves anymore. I don't want to take the edge off my suave antagonists or hair-trigger-temper bullies. But I also want them to be entertaining, even if it's in a love-to-hate sort of way. So far I haven't heard comments to that effect, so I can only assume that I'm not there yet, at least not in the eyes of others.

Thoughts? Tips?


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fantasy, scifi, horror, magical, drama
After reading some reading help guides, I've come to agree with those that push forward the idea that it's not about having 'likeable' characters, but having understandable characters. Negative feelings and behaviors do have a place. Snape is an excellent example. With the examples you gave, why not have the characters also enjoy getting mad over inconsequential things and getting into arguments?

This is a theme from Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground, where the underground man invites himself to a dinner party, hates it, but refuses to leave because it's fun to piss off others with his presence. He also makes mention of how people howl over having a toothache because annoying others with the howls is pleasurable.
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Anxiously Awkward
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Romance, Scifi, Survival, Fantasy, Magical, Action, and much more
Hmm... I would say start with anaylzing the traits that people find endearing about those kinds of characters.

For the time being, let's use Vegeta as an example: he started off as brash, arrogant, and pridefull. He still kind of this in regard, but... In the end, what people find endearing about him is not just these traits. Development later reveals him to be quite protective of his family and loved ones, and overall... A good father despite his actions at times.

As the the person above said... The deciding factor is probably relateability I suppose. While a character does not have to be nice or likeable all the time, I'd say even the cruelest of characters should at least have some glimmer of humanity in them, or at least something people can understand if you wish for people to like the character despite their flaws and/or quirks.
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The Mood is Write

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11PM to 2AM EST, plus or minus a few hours in either direction.
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Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, Androgynous, Primarily Prefer Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive

My strengths lie more in the direction of emotions and short-term ideas, where my ability to plan out long-term plots is weak. I do best with a partner who helps me cover that weakness.
Favorite Genres
I'm open to a wide range of genres. Obscenely wide. It's harder for me to list all I do like than all I don't like. My absolute favorite is mixed and multiverse, but I'm not limited to those.

• Mixed Genre
• Multiverse
• High Fantasy
• Hard Fantasy
• Low Fantasy
• OP Fantasy
• Science Fantasy
• Modern Fantasy
• Soft Scifi
• Science Fantasy
• Low Scifi
• OP Science Fantasy
• Modern Realistic (Strict)
• Modern Realistic (Loose)
• Urban Fantasy
• Alternate History (Fantasy Preference)
• Post-Apocalyptic Mixed
• Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy
• Post-Apocalyptic Scifi
• Post-Apocalyptic Modern
• Dystopia
• Displacement
• Military
• Dying Earth
• Supernatural
• Drama
• Mystery
• Horror
• Religious
• Crime/Detective
• Parody
• Comedy
• Tragedy
• Romance (Must Include Others)
• Erotic (Must Include Others)
Genre You DON'T Like
The list is short. because it's hard to find genres I don't enjoy.

• Yaoi/Yuri (Gay/Lesbian is fine!)
• Furry
• Fandom
• Historic Non-Fantasy
To make assholes that people love... This can be tricky, but it's also pretty fun!

Motivation is a huge key to making a likeable character, and when it's revealed, it can become a huge "OH" moment for the reader.

For example, let's say that Character A (C-A) is easily hurt. That is their motivation for being a jerk. They think that because they have been hurt in the past, they need to keep others away.

This in mind, they blatantly ignore others and act harshly. They insult, they sneer, they torment, but especially one person (C-B). C-B tried in the past to make friends with C-A, but considers it a failure, and now they think C-A is just bullying them.

However, when C-B is in danger, C-A tries initially to ignore it, but in the end, C-A helps C-B, only to reject their attempts at friendship after due to that fear.

Thus, we have a jerk with a reason for being a jerk.


The Phoenix
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Several Posts a Day, A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
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My times are pretty erratic, but it's only really rare to see me PST 3-11am. I'm on most of the time.
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Fine doing both! Sometimes I end up aggressive, if no one else is contributing to plot, or if there's one person I feel like is taking over, but if everyone's contributing equally to the pool of ideas, I just let them go ahead and do it.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
Genre You DON'T Like
Horror, Psychedelic, Gory (gore I can handle as long as it's not gore for gore's sake).
Amusing jerks are also easier to enjoy both for your own writing and for people reading. It's not quite the same thing as what you're describing, but the kind of assholes who are insulting and annoying, but more rude pranksters with quick wit than straight up evil tend to go over well. Very specific jerks are like that, too. Like people who are only jerks under specific circumstances. Hibari Kyoya from Hitman Reborn is a good example - an asshole who really only cares about his school, his animals, and his personal space, but will basically leave you alone if you don't aggravate him.

One Who Tames

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Well hum.

Most of my characters have been pretty well liked even though they are clearly flawed. I can try to examine some of them out loud and see if that helps. Talking about theories is fun but debating over how to build a bridge isn't always as useful as actually building that bridge - even if you fuck it up in the process.


My flagship character is undeniably a bad person. I won't go into all of the reasons he is a bad person here. You'll just have to take my word for it. Although, I should probably say he is unabashedly a bad person. Might makes right sort of guy. Yet most people who play with him love him, like him or love to hate him.

He is arrogant, confident and smug, which usually sets people off on the wrong foot when they meet him. He is also quite clever and witty, which seems to make people think there is "something more to him". Confidence, in general, draws attention and his antagonistic personality provokes a reaction from those around him. He is the kind of character that, when he is around, people know something is going to happen and end up going on their guard.

He does not complain, boast or really offer insult to anybody. He isn't petty. He also doesn't hesitate to make an example out of somebody who challenges him. Curiously, however, he also doesn't tend to kill people when he fights and prefers instead to leave them in debt to him or leave them alive to fight again later. One of his greatest joys in life is getting into a person's head and peeling back the layers to see what makes them tick. So his goal is to provoke a response and to constantly test those around him.

I think people enjoy this guy mostly because he is interesting, entertaining and makes things happen so that others can join in with the fun.

Another character I briefly played was a Drow. His name was Nolan.

Nolan was a dick.

Nolan was also quite arrogant. He was petty, racist, quick to fight, a liar and often detrimental to his team. People would yell, "Nolan, why?" while laughing at his antics. He was also a bit of a badass and constantly pulled the wool over the eyes of the GM's bad guys. "I don't want to do what he says... but I'm pretty sure he could kill all of us on his own."

A couple examples...

The party saw a house they wanted to get to on the other side of a lake. One of the elves made a magical boat to cross it. Nolan opted to walk around the lake instead of trusting the dirty elven magic. He got there late. When he walked into the house, he saw nobody was there, however, there was a trap door open in the corner. So he walked over to it and yelled down, "Hey! What's going on down there?"

The dwarf of the party wasn't that, ah, aware of himself. His player was fun, though. He yelled back up, "Oh, you know. Just sneaking up on a dozen devil dogs."

"Oh," Nolan said. "Well, have fun with that." Then he shut the trap door.

Another moment was when they were trying to disrupt the bad guy's evil plan. The bad guys were also drow so Nolan had... pretty well just walked into their camp a couple times to perform some casual sabotage and to order their underlings around like the boss he was (I put a lot of points into bluff). They were digging a big hole for some reason and he recognized it was below the water level on an island. So he went down there and directed the dig crew to dig through a wall into the ocean - which they did.

On the way out he hooked up with a couple succubi at the camp's pleasure tent and walked off with them for some fun.

Later, he came back to that camp with an ally of his (who was also a drow). They casually strolled up and released one of the important NPC captives, then teleported out.

Finally, during the lead up to the dramatic final battle, Nolan went in to pave the way for them. There was a bridge built over the now flooded pit. Nolan got into a yelling match over the guard because he wouldn't let him see the bad guy. Finally, he got tired of that and whipped out his sword. When the guard only fought defensively, Nolan complained about being bored and just walked around him. He made it about halfway before the balrog looking motherfucker (some giant demon. I don't know) guarding the bad guy walked out to him and compelled him to jump off the bridge.

Nolan did, with glee, and swam back to shore. This pulled the demon far enough away so that the party could slip in behind him, surprise him and fight the boss. Meanwhile, Nolan made it back to shore and went back to the bridge. He was on his way to help when he noticed that the whole army was following him. So he stopped and faced them. He was a great fighter and never took a single hit. However, one of the demons did something that he described as, "Hocking a giant loogie at you."

Nolan was horrified at this. He stopped fighting then casually jumped back off the bridge, avoiding the attacks of opportunity that were directed at him. The other players were a little upset. "Come on, man," said my best friend, while laughing. I yelled back at him, "You don't understand! It's in my hair!" Nolan was also quite vain.

One of the things I always thought about with my characters was; if you want them to be likable without being all gooey on the inside, make them a dick first and nice second. Complaining and whining tend to just annoy people. Always having something to say is also annoying. When you burn somebody, make it a fun burn even if your character is trying to be petty.

The best advice I can offer is; play to the players instead of the characters. People aren't good at completely removing their egos from their characters. They are also not that good at considering their characters instead of themselves. They don't always enjoy the same thing that their characters might enjoy. At the end of the day, the goal is to entertain the player. I know this might not be the best "Puritan" look at it, but this has always helped me. So... know your audience.

Sorry if this was more than a little wordy.