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I had a friend of mine read through my rough draft of Wandering Days. He pointed out many valid criticisms, but there was one that bothered me a bit. Namely, that I had too many unsympathetic characters. He didn't say that they were poorly written or poorly realized characters, his only complaint was that they were unsympathetic.
This is actually an issue I see often in film and game criticism as well. The character (more specifically the protagonist) was well written, but had unsympathetic motives and no sort of allure to them whatsoever. Many people see that as a bad thing; that it's poor storytelling that we aren't given anyone to root for or identify with.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
I feel that too many writers are afraid to have their protagonists unsympathetic in anyway because they'll feel like they'll let the audience down. Characters can have flaws, but the protagonists or major supporting characters can't be unrelatable or unlikeable. Their fears aren't unprecedented, it's considered taboo by many to have a hero whom they can't identify with. We've seen this with "A Clockwork Orange" among many others. I do however think it can make for a great story, as my example of "A Clockwork Orange" suggests.
Being alienated from the story can be just as engaging to the reader as being immersed. As for my story, Clementine, the main character, is very much a sympathetic protagonist surrounded by arrogance and corruption as the rats discover their place in the world. Main characters (again, specifically protagonists) can be annoying, stupid, arrogant, and selfish as long as the story compliments them well and we see them grow for better or worse.
Anyway, that's my rant for today.
Yes, I know the correct term for an unsympathetic protagonist is antihero. And I guess I shouldn't just use the word 'unsympathetic', but rather alienating. But you guys get my point...