While writing short stories, I’ve often been told how important it is for readers to empathise with my characters, to root for them or hate them.
Here’s an interesting article in the NYT about Zoe Heller’s (the writer of Notes on a Scandal) characters in her new novel “The Believers.”
Heller says: “I don’t write books for people to be friends with the characters. If you want to find friends, go to a cocktail party. The point of fiction is not to offer up moral avatars but to engage with people whose politics or points of view are unpleasant or contradictory.”
I’m intrigued by a writer who prefers “prefers insight to amiability.”
As a reader, I know I’m partial towards characters who engage me, who’re layered, and I have to admit, those who are likable. Maybe it is time to change gears as a writer, and play a little with the unpleasant sort of characters.