Another Writing Flaw: How Shall I Make Annoying Characters More Sympathetic?

“You were my very own sympathetic character / I was afraid of verbal daggers” – Alanis Morissette, “Sympathetic Character”

Sandra is “piss-pathetic.” (But only after she joins forces with Damien – the villain.)

Tsunami and Danae are “douchebags.”

Tsunami is “annoying.”

Those are samplings of criticism I got on my writing – more specifically, on my characters. Granted, being annoying is part of Tsunami’s character, especially in earlier parts of the series. Danae is Tsunami’s daughter, so I suppose she would inherit some of those same “douchebag” tendencies. I can understand why readers would think this. (I have had a love-hate relationship with Tsunami myself.)

Problem

Tsunami is one of the main characters in the XIII series. (Danae and Sandra are both minor characters, but they still play important roles in the action of the story.) I have to make them all more sympathetic and less irritating. I want the reader to be able to relate to them and feel sorry for them (when appropriate). I don’t want readers throwing down my book because they’re annoyed by a character (or three).

Possible Solutions

1. I’ve been looking up some helpful articles on how to create more sympathetic characters – tools that will make their personalities less abrasive to the reader.

Deanna Carlyle – Springboard for Creating Sympathetic Characters

Carrie Lewis – Fix Unsympathetic Characters

J. Mark Bertrand – One Way to Make Characters Sympathetic

2. I know that right now I’m in the middle of writing XIII, so I won’t be able to really see how “annoying” the characters are until I take a break from it and read it to myself again.

3. It’s difficult to see flaws in your own work, even after waiting for a while after you’ve written it to read it over, so I’ll have to have another few people read it.

4. I’ll also try giving the characters more sympathetic traits that will make a reader care about them enough to not be frustrated while reading.

Does anyone else have this problem? Are there any solutions that have worked for you? Thanks so much for reading! 🙂

4 thoughts on “Another Writing Flaw: How Shall I Make Annoying Characters More Sympathetic?

    • I’ve already got some really mean characters – and I honestly think they’re the reason my readers are still reading, haha! Thank you for commenting! 🙂

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  1. I can totally relate to #2 and #3. While some time away from my first book now makes me cringe at some parts, other parts are hard to see what’s wrong and how to fix it. As far as making your characters more sympathetic, if you don’t want to change things too much, you could always try adding in some small stuff. They could lose someone they cared about or even be humiliated in front of others. Those are things that just about everyone can relate with and sympathize with. Maybe even showing the reader the reason they are how they are and then it’s an “ah hah!” type moment. Maybe your readers will have some suggestions. Without me knowing your story or characters in detail, it’s hard to be specific. Good luck!

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    • Thanks for the tips! “Maybe even showing the reader the reason they are how they are and then it’s an “ah hah!” type moment.” seems like it would be the best one to try. 🙂 Good luck with your writing, too!

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