But I hate that

When I write or shall I say revise, I find ways to polish what I’ve written and employ some or all of the things I have found and learned. One thing I have recently been thinking about are our key character differences. Our differences make us unique from one another, this should also be true to characters of a story. I’ve talked about likes and dislikes and how they can bring about interesting conversation and plot turns. But what about hate?

The hate of a certain food, colour, object, task, job, behavior or even another person. I personally only give my good behaving characters one or two hates and they may or may not ever come up in the story unless they are pertinent or it can inject humor, tension, foreshadows or even comradery into a scenario.

I don’t mean the “Ooh I hate that.” Kind of hate, I mean the deep down, loathing-avoid-it-at-all-costs kind of hate. The sort of thing that Antagonists are riddled with.

A hatred of something or someone can be the entire purpose of a characters drive. Not everyone that hates is a bad person.

Anne’s smile faded as she approached the house. The loathsome sound of a small dog barking behind the door made her toes curl. The door opened before she could knock and the vile creature bounded out at her. Taking a step back, she gave herself points for not punting the yappy monster nipping at her shoes and jumping up at her legs.

Valery waited while her date loaded up his vendor hotdog with condiments. He didn’t know it was a test. If he reached for the bottle of vomit, she would bail on him. Petty, but anyone who ate relish was as vile as they come. You could kick a dog and she’d find a way to forgive, but to willingly consume the slimy, chunky, tangy booger-barf was a no go for her. He squeezed the bottle and it oozed out with small fart noises; she grimaced as her stomach lurched. Too bad, he was a great kisser.

Baylor crouched quietly waiting for his quarry. With each passing minute, his body tensed a little more, the grinding of his teeth his only company in the dark yard. The nearby animals sensing his furious presence wouldn’t resume their night-song or dare approach. His nostrils flared as car headlights approached. Nobody has gotten away before, nobody. Let alone have him arrested. She ruined everything, now he had to become someone else to be happy. A tainted happiness all because of some whore tease who tempted too many men falsely. If she lived through his payback, he didn’t care. It would be a first, he liked them to suffer forever, but this one, oh, this one destroyed his control, she who wasn’t even the real target to begin with, would pay dearly.

When I give a protagonist or supporting character a hatred, I try to make it interesting, against the norm or flat out weird. That way the reader will be shocked or taken aback by the hatred. It makes a person more believable it they If I have an antagonist with bundles of hatred, I would let it out slowly or hide it from the world in which they live. Perhaps the reader would be given glimpses, with a show gesture or two. Or, with an action or conversation that starts to elude to their deep seeded hatred. They are after all the one that throws the protagonist challenge after challenge until one of them wins.

My advice about hatred.
Keep it believable. Unique to the character, but not overwhelming if they are not the villain. If possible work the hatred into the plot as a device for conversation, character building or even the whole point of the story. Have fun with hatred, but remember most people keep such powerful emotions tucked away, deep down and loathe even to talk about it.

-Sheryl

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12 thoughts on “But I hate that

  1. I remember once being told the main character of a book can’t be the most hated person in the world. My first novel length piece (written back in 2000) had a boss as a main character but she was the most unlike-able person in the world and she suffered. An editor I was talking to told me at the time that I couldn’t have the main character hated by the reader and eventually killed off because a book can’t be written that way. I realised during the second edit I had to add details like history and reasons for the hatred (originally omitted for word counts) but having a main character hated by the reader can be done. What the editor failed to mention was that it was HIS opinion that such writing couldn’t be done, not a RULE.

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    1. Interesting. I don’t know if I would go so far as to make the main character unlikeable or hated, but there are storylines out there where the main is a bad person but likeable. Its like rooting for the bad guy. Rules are made to be broken 😉

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      1. At the end of the day anything is possible. When an editor or publisher says “this wont sell” or “you can’t write about that” what they mean is “I can’t/don’t want to sell this”

        Too many people actually take editors and publishers comments as if they are gospel and relate to all books, all stories and all authors but it’s simply not true.

        I know one author who swears black and blue that manuscript will not be accepted by ANY publisher unless it’s typed in Courier because she tried to submit in Times and her publisher told her to resubmit. Her one little publisher told her their preference and now as a ‘publisher author’ she tells those trying to break the scene that no publisher will accept anything but Courier.

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        1. That’s interesting I had a consultation with an ex literary agent/new York times best seller and he said the exact opposite. Times new roman for everything. He also said that if they want a font changed it’s not a big deal… and he’s right. It takes four, literally four clicks of the mouse to change the font of an entire document. His advice about this is be flexible. A publisher wont turn down good material because of something easily changed on their end or the writers. He did also say don’t take anyone’s word as gospel, but take it as advice.

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          1. Yep. I agree it’s the words they buy not the pretty font. They don’t want to read some cursive crap but they aren’t going to turn away something that is easily readable. This woman also claimed if it wasn’t in .docx it wouldn’t be accepted either.

            I once had a publisher tell me my sentences were too long, and another read the same story and said they were too short. As long as you don’t get caught up thinking anything anyone says is the only way you should be able to allow yourself to adapt to the preferences of anyone.

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            1. There might be some truth in what she is saying. I know as far as literary agents go, each one has a separate set of rules for submission. I have to follow each to the letter for them to look. But yeah in the end it’s all about doing what is necessary. An unbending author will be passed by over one willing to work with the agent or publisher, that much I know.

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              1. Yeah they have submission rules but the rule of docx is not across the board like she claims. Plenty of publishers accept multiple formats, just hers doesn’t and she takes that to mean none do. But what’s worse is that on a writers forum for hacks she makes her claim about all publishers only wanting docx and people believe her because she’s published.

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