The Unlikeable Good Guy

So this week the results for the first round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award came through and unfortunately my pitch for Through the Black didn’t cut the mustard. Obviously I’m disappointed but I am trying too keep positive about things. After all, anyone who is serious about writing has to be prepared to face the fact that rejection is just something that you are going to have to deal with, end of story. I think possibly every single writing resource I’ve looked at has stated this loud and clear and a common figure I see popping up is that most authors see one acceptance for every ninety nine rejections. Ouch. Thick skin must be earned, I guess, and that began here.

In a way it is good that I can now go back to my manuscript and look at it again. As I rushed the last edit of the draft for the contest there were still one or two things that I would have liked to alter or change which now I have the opportunity to do. Also, the blog post of one of the nice folks I follow on Twitter has gotten me thinking – is my main character likeable enough early on in the story? This post makes a good point, that if you want people to keep reading then they need to have some sort of connection with the character.

So take Michael Poole. He’s a middle-aged, failing journalist. He’s grouchy and cantankerous. He is sarcastic and snide as well as being flat broke and apparently extremely reluctant to do anything about it. He is also a borderline alcoholic. Throughout the course of the story more of him is revealed as well as a whole lot of development but right at the start, what is going to make people care about this washout? He certainly doesn’t care, so why should the reader?  Hmm. I think this is something I will have to consider carefully. I know who Michael Poole really is and who he will turn into throughout the story. As such, I care for him greatly and I always have done, as when he was first conceived as an idea in my head I always knew what was to become of him but the reader doesn’t so why would they care about him now? I’ll need to go back and look at my opening carefully.

As usual, a disappointment gives opportunity for improvement. Remember, there’s always an upside.

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