Since I’ve talked a bit about how psychology and appreciation of stories might interact, I thought it’d be interesting to consider something many people mention first when talking about a story: characters. Sometimes a great protagonist or villain can raise up an otherwise mediocre story. Sometimes a plot that sounded fascinating gets bogged down by cardboard characters. And, of course, readers don’t all agree: a character one finds impressive another may find repulsive, and vice versa.
Why is that, and what factors might make a character more or less appealing? Psychologists have suggested that for readers to care about characters, they need to react to them as if they were friends or enemies. So let’s start by examining what makes us like other people in our lives.
Comments welcomed here or there.