None of my readers liked the main character in my story. In fact, I don’t even like Wilson.
Here is the feedback I got from Tom.
“I do have these random thoughts.
Wilson reminds me a little of J. Alfred Prufrock in the first half of the story, wondering about himself, introverted and introspective.
I don’t like Wilson and would not want to be friends with him.
Both women are mean to him and he spends his life helping women.
How did he get to this point of desperation in his life where he can neither act, nor not act, and he is vilified for doing either by himself and others.
All in all, I think you had a good time writing this, I hope it wasn’t too painful, and I would be honored to read your next undertaking.”
I thought Tom’s painful comment was funny and ironic, because now it is going to be painful since I’m at a loss as to how to help the story henceforth!
I think it’s ok to have an unlikable character, but the reader must still care about that character. And that’s where I failed. I made Wilson into a caricature rather than a well-rounded character. He’s too persnickety, too prissy, too judging. I went overboard.
I jumped into writing the story without thinking more about it ahead of time. It’s a weakness of mine. I need to back up and write a character sketch about Wilson. Because the more I know about him, the easier it will be to make him seem real and relatable.
Here are some thoughts to help kick-start the sketch.
Where did Wilson grow up? What were his parents like?
Pick two or three childhood events. How does Wilson feel about them?
Go into his young adulthood. Dredge up a few memories.
Write down Wilson’s physical description—his eyes, hair, skin, teeth…
How about Wilson’s style of dress? His way of speech? Does he have a personal motto?
Describe Wilson’s mannerisms, his quirks, his bad habits, his likes and dislikes.
Does Wilson have any redeeming qualities?
I’ll construct Wilson and his life history, and I’ll try to make him more human and then maybe the readers, even if they still don’t like him, will be able to empathize with him. Back to work!