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Emotional MC

tendres

Does a main character need to be emotionally well developed, caring person for the reader to connect with them? What about if they have little or no feelings? Perhaps a story where they really don't like others. Like they would feed their own grandmother to monster and not feel anything. Or maybe they change over the story...

Replies:   Grant  Daydreamz  Ross at Play  REP  madnige
Grant
Updated:

@tendres

Does a main character need to be emotionally well developed, caring person for the reader to connect with them?


I deal with arseholes, retards, dickheads & oxygen thieves on a daily basis. I read for entertainment & enjoyment and to get a break from real life.

Why would I choose to subject myself to more frustration & annoyance when I don't have to?

Daydreamz

@tendres

What about if they have little or no feelings?

You're talking a psychopath. If they really are I don't think it would work, that's just too fundamentally unattractive. Someone who discovers feelings during the story could work, but you'd have to be a very good writer to carry the reader through the early parts of the story.
Or someone who's damaged, vulnerable, shut down etc, could work.

Slutsinger

As a reader I've given up on the idea that there's anything that can "never work." I've read novellas without plot. I've read novels told from the point of view of a buggy not-actually-self-aware computer program, and while that didn't quite work, I did make it through the novel and it did receive good reviews.
As an author, I've found that the answer to such questions is to go try it and see how it works for you. If you succeed, you know the answer is yes. If you don't, you know you couldn't do it then.
That said, what you propose sounds difficult.
There are definitely crime procedurals with a mostly sociopathic main character (Consider the Richard Stark Parker novels as an example).

Ross at Play

@tendres

Does a main character need to be emotionally well developed, caring person for the reader to connect with them?

No. Definitely not ... but I'd want to know how to create believable sane characters before trying my hand at any psychopaths.
A lot of the best drama on TV features truly despicable MCs. For starters there's The Sopranos, The Shield, Dexter, Hannibal, House of Cards.

Crumbly Writer

It's a tricky prospect. While few are interested in reading about self-centered psychopaths, there is room for novels about curmudgeons who eventually reveal their 'inner humanity' over time. "The Man Called Ove" is a prime example.

The key, generally, is to have them seen as 'unlikable' by outsiders, but reflect their inner suffering while by themselves (all without showing their thoughts directly, only showing their actions). That's why this is tricky to get just right.

REP
Updated:

@tendres

About two years ago, I posted The Actress and the Mudder. It is basically what you are describing, except the MC expresses lots of feelings and doesn't change during the story.

I realized that I was developing all of my MCs as Good Guys. I decide to create a story in which the MC was the most despicable, self-centered, egotistical, selfish person that I could imagine without the MC committing criminal acts. The result was The Actress and the Mudder.

I like to think that the story scored so much lower than my other stories because I was successful in creating that type of MC and my readers hated him.

Replies:   StarFleetCarl
StarFleetCarl

@REP

I decide to create a story in which the MC was the most despicable, self-centered, egotistical, selfish person that I could imagine without the MC committing criminal acts.


I'll have to find that one. I'm working on the reverse of a superhero story along those lines. Got it plotted out already, so I'll be curious as to my scores as well, because I don't think people will like the main character, either.

Replies:   REP
REP

@StarFleetCarl

I'll have to find that one.


After you read it send me some feedback. I would be interested in your opinion. Did you hate the character? If you score were to score it low, would your score be due to your reaction to the MC or the story itself?

richardshagrin

As a reader and in picking stories to review, it can be difficult to separate the story from the main character. It is hard to like the story when you don't like the protagonist. I was going to say hero but that didn't seem to fit. Protagonist is a nice wishy-washy name for the main character without requiring any heroic actions on his or her part. Its sexually neutral, too as both men and women can be protagonists. I wonder if there are any amateur tagonists?

madnige

@tendres

Wes Boyd did it in Out of the Cage, where he takes Frenchy LeDroit from the self-centered bully he was established as in Bird in the Hand, to a respected and productive member of his community. Come to think of it, Lazlo Zalezac also did this with Ed Biggers

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