Creating an unlikeable character is often a necessary “evil” in fiction writing. After all, bad behavior by some can serve as the needed foil to the likeable characters in your story. But how do we avoid crafting the one-dimensional villain (assuming this isn’t your objective)? And what are the keys to writing an unlikeable protagonist—in realistic fiction—that won’t turn off readers? These points and others will be examined with the use of literary examples and exploring writing process techniques that help to avoid the pitfalls of the cliché.
Dr. Alexis Pride is the Interim Director of Graduate Programs at Columbia College Chicago and a professor of creative writing in the English and Creative Writing department. Pride also works as a contracted writer for Level 4 Press, Inc., where she co-authors novels that are optimized for film/television adaptation. Among her works are All I Want for Christmas (published in August 2022, Level 4 Press), which hit #1 for new releases on Amazon during its first week, and Satchel Paige, a forthcoming novel. Her other publications include Where the River Ends (Tanksley-Simpson Publishing), and short stories in TriQuarterly, F Magazine, and elsewhere. Pride also served as the Fiction Editor for the inaugural issue of Allium, A Journal of Poetry & Prose, the multi-genre literary magazine published by Columbia College Chicago.