Likability

Storytelling

Understanding Character Karma

Lady Justice sits with her sword, holding up her scales

Character karma is a useful concept that helps us understand how to craft stories that are engaging and satisfying. While I’ve mentioned the concept in many other places, it’s overdue for a full article on the ways it affects our stories. First, what is character … read more »

Writing

Giving Your Hero Sympathetic Problems

Frodo stares at the one ring in the glow of mount doom

Making your protagonist a relatable underdog is a great way to encourage your audience to bond with them. Unfortunately, it’s easy for this effort to go wrong. Instead of feeling sympathy for your hero, the audience might think your character is whiny and unpleasant. The narration … read more »

Analysis

Five Stories Hurt by Unlikable Protagonists

Likability is a critical aspect of storytelling.* If the audience doesn’t like a character, they won’t become invested in what happens. This investment is especially important for the protagonist. If the story has an unlikable protagonist, many people won’t finish it. Let’s look at some blatant offenders. A “likable” character … read more »

Storytelling

Twelve Traits for a Lovable Hero

A hero the audience loves is a critical ingredient in our stories. Unfortunately, liking the character yourself is no guarantee of audience attachment. To help a diverse array of people love your hero, give your protagonist some traits that are widely likable. Starting your story by demonstrating … read more »

Storytelling

Devising Conflict Between Protagonists

Conflicts within Team Good allow us to develop characters while adding excitement to scenes. However, most good guys have every reason to stay on good terms. Without a villain, it can be tricky to get them fighting. As a result, many protagonist conflicts rely on good guys that act out of character or manifest glaring new flaws. … read more »

Analysis

Five Failed Animal Companions

Animal companions come in all shapes and sizes, but they do share similar characteristics. First, they’re all animals of some kind, though not always animals we’d recognize. Second, they exist primarily to support another character and rarely have an arc of their own. Third, they rarely … read more »