Writing 101: Love to Hate?

Many books are written with a hero, or protagonist, and a villain, an antagonist. But somewhere in the middle, there is a special kind of character: the one you love to hate. Now, try writing it.

Same Coin

In the comic book world, lines are clearly drawn between good guys and bad guys. Both types of guys are powerful, and you can easily tell which one you’re supposed to be rooting for. But even in the comic book world of clear distinctions, there are characters that you almost start rooting for -- even though they really want to kill the hero of the story. Catwoman is supposed to be a villain, but it’s so easy to hope that things will work out for her anyway. This is a villain you love to hate, or hate to hate. They say that hate and love are two sides of the same coin. So how do you write about them both at once?

Most people are not completely good or completely bad, and so it makes sense to write villains that have some good qualities -- and heroes that have some bad. This is how you get readers to feel both love and hate for a villain, or a hero. A villain who does bad things because they have no other choice, a hero who does wrong to commit good, a character who is both good and bad can inspire both love and hate.

Make characters likable by making them relatable. It helps if characters are funny or clever or good at something -- give them something for readers to admire. This makes it possible to feel love, even for a character who’s doing a lot of bad. When you write a character that readers love to hate, you’re creating characters that feel more like real people...and that’s what all authors want to do.

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