Reasons I Hate Your Characters
1. I don’t know anything meaningful about them. This is mostly a problem with side characters. The reader learns a few key facts about the main character’s “friends,” and that’s all we get. If the characters are friends, the author needs to show us more than just surface-level stuff. Why are these people friends? It’s probably not because Debbie has green eyes and likes chicken sandwiches.
2. They whine too much. I know that being a fictional person is tough, but there’s only so much complaining I can take. Eventually the character needs to move past whining about a problem and fix the problem.
3. They’re too stupid to live. Once upon a time, I read a novel about a couple who were escaping from a serial killer. The couple spends a few days derping frantically through the forest with the killer on their trail. Then they find an abandoned cabin. As a reader, my thoughts were: Now one of them can keep watch while the other sleeps. Except, that’s not what happens. Our heroes barge into the cabin, start a fire in the fireplace, and have sex on the floor. No! What if the killer had stormed in while they were naked and flailing? After that, I was rooting for the killer.
4. You’re trying too hard to make me love them. I’m a rebellious creature. If you want me to do something, I’ll probably do the opposite. This is why an author should never try too hard to make me love a character. I once read a novel where all the characters were endlessly praising this dead girl. She was so sweet, and so perfect, and had such a tragic death, and blah, blah, blah. By the end of the book, I wanted everybody to shut up about her. I’m a cold-hearted witch. No sympathy for a beautiful dead girl. The author tried so hard to make me love this girl that I just felt manipulated and annoyed.
5. You’re confusing love with abuse. I don’t like it when abuse is presented as love, especially in children’s books. (Think: Twilight.) Here is a brief list of things that are not sexy: stalking, destroying property, non-consensual touching, locking people in rooms, withholding important information, overprotectiveness. If you want me to like your characters, they better not do any of these things.
6. I don’t understand why this character exists. I usually don’t like books with big casts. They confuse me. I want every character to play an important role in the story. Every character needs a clear reason for existing. I hate when characters are just . . . there. I don’t need extra names to remember! *Glares angrily at George R.R. Martin*
7. They have no agency. What’s the point of having a character if they’re not going to do anything? The characters need to make the plot happen. They can’t just sit around while the plot happens to them. I want to see action, not just reaction.
8. They’re a stereotype. It’s 2018, people! We should be past this.
9. Their lives stop when they get into a relationship. I know that relationships are a big deal, and they have an impact on people’s lives, but you don’t stop living when you meet a boy. Some fictional characters get into a relationship and suddenly forget about their friends, their job, their hobbies, their goals, their homework, their chronic illnesses. Cute boys are wonderful things, but they don’t cause amnesia. Calm down, people.
10. I’ve seen this before. Do you know about the Brooding YA Hero Twitter account? If you don’t, you should check it out. There are some types of characters that have been overdone in fiction. Personally, I’m sick of the gorgeous, snarky badboy with a tragic past. We’ve had enough of those. I like characters who are individuals, not copies.
What makes you hate a character?