I was reminded of the subject of writing a likable character by a book I didn’t read, or at least, didn’t finish reading. The book is The Geographer’s Library, by Jon Fasman, and here’s why I only read about a quarter of it.
The author has a galloping imagination, enabling him to write a long and involved story, all of which I would have had to spend in the company of a protagonist I didn’t like. In a previous post I expressed my opinion that an unassuming modesty is a good way to make a hero likable. The young man who is the hero of the book I didn’t read narrates most of the plot with commendable modesty, but made me realize that I left out an important qualification; the character has to have something to be modest about. And if the protagonist is interesting in any way, the reader should be given a hint of it in the first hundred pages.
Writing about characters who are good company isn’t only pleasanter for the reader who is looking for light entertainment – it’s also much more fun for the writer.