I’m an unabashed character lover. I can open a book, hate the plot, and still be attached to a character, reading through to the end just for the sake of seeing them through. I know this is likely a mindset, and one that is somewhat key to literary fiction: the adoration of learning about a character, watching them struggle and grow, and finding where they are at the end of a novel, trumping what the plot might ultimately be.
I find myself surprised by characters. I do not claim a “muse” or some kind of outside force, spirits or whathaveyou: I understand that I created these presences in my stories, and I, in the end, am the one responsible for their responses, their direction, and their ends. That said: they surprise me. I’ve never managed a story, of any length or form, where a character hasn’t thrown a curveball, or destroyed what I was intending, even as loose at it might be.
I’m often surprised, too, by disliking a character I am writing. I do not believe in likeability being the necessary competent to attaching to a character (that, my friends, is sympathy, a whole different beast), but actively disliking someone I created, someone I am controlling, is a bit on the mind-boggling side. Does it point to some kind of self-loathing? I’m not sure.
I adore one of my current characters, and find the other self-absorbed, vapid, and misguided. Yet I write her, and hope she comes off in a sympathetic way– I find her interesting, even as I dislike the way she approaches life’s problems, and how she navigates her troubles: she is interesting, but I’d never want to be friends with her.
My writing companion (the lovely and talented Laila) has told me she finds it strange when I don’t like a character– especially when she finds out it’s one she likes! Even without the mysticism, I do think it’s just like people: not even your closest will always like the same as you. Everyone sees a different side.