People are not perfect. I apologize if this comes as a shock to you, but I rather doubt it does. Because of humanity’s lack of perfection I find my favorite book protagonists are the ones that are deeply flawed and for the most part down-right unlikable. A great example of this is Dark Places: A Novel by Gillian Flynn. The protagonist, Libby Day, describes herself (most accurately) with the following: I have a meanness inside of me, real as an organ. Slit me at the belly and it might slide out, meaty and dark.
So what is it about these deeply flawed individuals that I find so compelling? Is it because I find them more realistic based on my skewed views of humanity? Is it because I hope they will find redemption or some king of happy ending? Or am I just a psychopath that wants some company? More than likely a mix of all three.
In the main story I am writing right now one of the main characters is a very dark character and is not very likable. When you have a character that is unlikable and does some very dark deeds how do you get the reader to feel for him? It is something I am struggling with and am hoping to accomplish. Dark Places and other stories with flawed characters help give me an idea of what can be done, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit I am interested to see how far I can push the unlikable-ness meter and still get readers to care about my protagonist.
What about you all, how do you like your protagonist?