How to Make A Character Likable

I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose. – Stephen King

Sometimes it can be difficult to know if a character is likable or not, or sometimes we know our character is unlikable, but we want him or her to be likable. However, as we are about to see making a character likable does not always mean making a character nice, although it can. So today I have a list of ways to make characters more likable.

Certain Characteristics

There are nine characteristics that have been identified as helping to make characters more likable. Usually a character has to have at least five of these characteristics to be considered likable.

  1. Courage
    The character saving others and being willing to face dangerous situations always helps to make a character more likable or at least respected.
  2. Unfair Injury
    If the character has been injured unfairly it immediately makes readers want to do something about it. It causes sympathy which is often ends in making them like the character.
  3. Skill
    If the character is skillful in what he or she it makes the reader respect their talent.
  4. Funny
    If a character can make a reader smile, or better yet laugh, that is really going to help to make a character likable.
  5. Just Plain Nice
    It is hard not to like a character who is just nice, of course, if all the characters are like that it can get a bit boring.
  6. In Danger
    If a character is in danger it is hard to not feel sorry for them unless the character is super annoying.
  7. Loved By Friends And Family
    If the people in the story like the character there has to be something in them even if they are really annoying that makes them likable. This one can make the reader look more closely for why the character is likable and will often begin to like that character themselves.
  8. Hard Working
    This one is fairly obvious (although most of them have been). We are more likely to respect a character that is hard working versus one that is lazy.
  9. Obsessed
    If the character is really into what they are doing their attitude is likely to pull the reader along with them.

So those are some characteristics in characters that tend to make them more likable.

Saving the cat

This basically means just making your character do something to help someone else, just a small thing, but something that not everyone would do.

Give your hero a really evil villain so that the hero looks better

If the hero is not very nice, but the villain is even worse, the hero will look much better in comparison. The thing with this one is though that the hero can’t be all bad because then we might not even be sure who is really the hero and who is the villain, although if the villain is really, really bad and the hero is just bad, it would probably work.

Make us love to hate the character

There are some characters that are just so annoying that we actually enjoy hating them. An example of this would be Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes is annoying, arrogant, frustratingly clever, and unfeeling, and yet he is a character that lots of people enjoy reading about even though we would never want to meet him in real life. This advice is probably not the easiest to follow, but it is certainly possible. Also make sure that the character has some good traits however annoying he or she may be.

Try to make your character someone you would want to spend time with

If you make the character someone that you would want to spend time with it is likely that they will be likable. If you use this one just try to make sure that the character still has some faults.

Making characters likable can be a difficult undertaking, hopefully this has given you some new ideas about how to go about doing that!

If you have any tips on making characters likable, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

3 thoughts on “How to Make A Character Likable

  1. I’ll take you up on your last sentence; I thought of two more.

    1) Intelligence. The ability to outwit others or maneuver skillfully on the “chessboard” contained in the plot. Also: wisdom (which is distinct from intelligence — but nonetheless –) passed from the lips of the character-supposed-to-be-liked to another character. It makes you wonder what more genius one-liners or philosophical quips the character might bless everyone with.

    2) Martyrdom. This is perhaps the most powerful one. When a character dies for what he or she believes in, you can’t help but sympathize with the character for sacrificing their ultimate offering.

    Hope this helps!

    Liked by 1 person

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