On the blog chain this round, Michelle chose the topic, and Kate will follow me. Michelle asked
In your reading and writing, which do you prefer – a main character that is intriguing, or one that is likeable? Who are the characters that you love the most? And who are the ones that you love to hate?
This is easy. Give me intriguing.
As a general rule, I adore villains, and I adore antiheroes. The very same characters many people find unlikeable.
Unless they're one-dimensional and cliched, of course. And one-dimensional and cliched are far too common. You know these villains--they're brilliant but twisted and completely unsympathetic. And each one could stand in for the next. Dean Koontz kicks these guys out at an impressive rate; so do most other thriller writers. (Dan Brown's albino monk, anyone?) Don't get me wrong, they can carry the story forward, but they're just filler. They're not intriguing.
No, I like multidimensional villains--the kind that make you squirm because you can totally see why they're doing what they're doing. Berg Katse, the villain in an old anime called Gatchaman, is one of my all-time favorite villains. Sometimes he's smooth, sometimes he's savage, and sometimes he's played for laughs, but he's always interesting. And he just gets more interesting as you learn more about him, until the quest to understand him is actually pulling the entire show along.
I also like heroes who have a dark side. Who make awful mistakes, have ugly urges, and who might, under the right circumstances, be the villains themselves.
I'm in love with Supernatural, which definitely fits that bill. The show is about a pair of brothers who hunt supernatural monsters. They kill off ghouls, save people from vampires, lay uneasy spirits to rest, and all around kick ass. Both of the brothers are heroic, but they also have dark sides. Serious dark sides. From time to time one or the other comes dangerously close to being as wicked as the monsters they hunt. That always leaves the brother still on the straight and narrow with an awful predicament. What do you do when the person you love most is also your worst enemy? (If it's Supernatural, you try to save him, even if that means killing him. At least he'll die human... I find that kind of dilemma fascinating.)
In an ideal story, for me, both the villains and the heroes are charismatic, intriguing, and compelling. They're like real people, with good and bad sides. You don't have to love my characters, but if they keep you reading, I've done a good job. Me...I usually love them all -- even the ones my readers love to hate!
So dear readers...how would you answer the question?