Saturday, December 20, 2014

Quoted: Margaret Atwood on creating "likeable" characters

I myself have been idiotically told that I write “awful” books because the people in them are unpleasant. Intelligent readers do not confuse the quality of a book with the moral rectitude of the characters. For those who want goodigoodiness, there are some Victorian good-girl religious novels that would suit them fine. -- Margaret Atwood
The full quote is at the link.

I've written about "likability" and "relatability" more than a few times. It still baffles me that it's still looked upon as a defining characteristic of literature. What doesn't surprise me is that the onus to write likable characters is almost always on female writers.

I like flawed characters. No, that isn't exactly correct. All good characters have flaws, even likable "plucky" ones. I like bad characters. And truly bad female characters who don't fall prey to stereotypes are a rarity. Whether I relate to them or not is immaterial. Is this written well? Yes? Proceed. No? Close book.

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