My protagonist is immensely unsympathetic. That’s the point


First of all, know that I am very capable of accepting comments and criticisms. I can take a note if the note is worth it. And while I appreciate your comments, it seems like you’re missing the point to an almost comical degree. The fact that my main character is “wretchedly arrogant and unsympathetic to the point of being unreadable” is an intentional choice on my part.

She’s supposed to be a conceited, narcissistic hypocrite who doesn’t have the self-awareness to apologize to the myriad people she offends and is content to believe that she’s the only person of value in her entire group. of friends. This is called “good writing”. And please note that I said “myriad” and not “a myriad of” since myriad is an adjective that means “many”. Not a name. You can’t have “many” things. Isn’t it, Carl?

My hero, Angela Devlin, is so much more than just a “random amalgamation of character flaws in hopes of creating a borderline captivating character.” (Thanks for that one, Tricia. Why don’t we see that kind of reflection on your own pages?) She’s the well-rendered embodiment of an entire lost generation. Maybe that’s why you stopped reading on page seven. Maybe you don’t like being confronted with a character that reflects all of your worst qualities.

Some of you have described her as “insufferable, lazy, authoritative and delusional”. Would you level the same criticism at missing girl? Sharp objects? Flea bag? I wouldn’t, because I’m not a misogynist. Hell, I made my hero female, which is exactly what a misogynist would never do. By the way, “unbearable” is a term that only applies to female characters, so stop saying it, because it makes you hysterical.

When we first meet Angela, she records an Instagram Live rant about how she was late for work because the person in front of her on the exit gave money to a homeless vet, causing her to miss the light and making an illegal left turn into a parked van. Tell me this isn’t the kind of superbly flawed, real-life Don Draper/Walter White/Lena Dunham antihero that’s destined to become a staple of the zeitgeist.

Uninvited, Angela reminds you that she studied with Joyce Carol Oates when she got her MFA of Yale. She cuts people off in the middle of the conversation to correct their grammar. When she feels criticized, she lashes out with ad hominem attacks while portraying herself as the victim. I want to take those flaws and increase them to eleven. It’s a Spinal Tap reference, FOR YOUR INFORMATIONfor those of you who willfully ignore the iconic comedy.

At a playwright’s conference in Iowa, David Mamet once told me that the trick to writing compelling characters is to make them as irredeemable as possible. Any hack can write an endearing hero that you can search for on the front page. Real artistry comes from forcing the reader to care about someone not worth caring about. He then followed up with a rather apt talk about cancel culture that has stuck with me ever since.

Last month, you said my draft was too bland and my hero, Logan Studwell, got off too easily. No one called him out on his perceived “bullshit”. And even though I never described his appearance, you said he had a punchy face. Despite disagreements on all fronts, I displayed tremendous literary dexterity, and this time I wrote a complex and damaged protagonist who is layered and textured, but somehow I am always hit with “unreadable”. Say what you want, but at least my writing makes you feel something. Even if it makes you want to close the book and never read it again, it’s the sign of a real great fiction.

OK. Who wants to go to the writers group next? Claudia, your story is a real wreck, but I think I know how to save her. Let me grab my notepad since I have four pages of killer suggestions for you.

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