Generally speaking, in my fiction I tend to create characters—protagonists, that is—whom I like, or whom I at least sympathize with. Not just understand, mind you, but also feel a certain compassion for. My guess is that this is pretty typical among writers.
But my new central character has got me thinking. I like her, because I know and understand her, even though I’m still figuring her out. I’m not so sure, however, that the great and discerning “reader” we all imagine will like her as much. Is this a problem?
My concern is that in order for the kind of novel I’m envisioning here to succeed, I think protagonist buy-in is necessary. There are famous stories with protagonists whom many readers find reprehensible, but they read on to find out what happens and how it happens. Case in point:
I’m struggling now to refine my understanding of the boundaries between “liking” a character versus “identifying with” him/her versus “reading to find out what the hell is going to happen.” Every story is different, I know. The elements shake out differently. But are there stories where a certain affinity for the star player is crucial?
Advice and insights are most welcome. Please share.