March 19, 2019

Tell Me Something Tuesday: What Personality Traits Do You Love/Hate in a Character?

Tell Me Something Tuesday is a weekly discussion post on Rainy Day Ramblings, where the blog's owner Heidi discusses a wide range of topics from books to blogging. Weigh in and join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the comments. If you want to do your own post, grab the question and answer it on your blog.
Here is what is on deck this week:


First off...I proposed this question to Heidi, and she gladly accepted to incorporate it into her list. Thank you!

Overall, I'm not awfully picky with my characters - I have been known to like a few unlikeable ones (at least based on the general consensus, or lack of it...but heck, even "I" could see those characters were a little - or a lot - off the track, so to speak), as long as they were interesting to read about, or the story they featured in was interesting as a whole. But the key word, to me, are "depth" and "growth". Even characters with a questionable history can provide both. Also, let's face it, not a single one of us is a saint - why shouldn't we be equally lenient with book characters? Maybe we would never be best friend with them IRL, but that doesn't mean they can't provide an interesting perspective book-wise.

The truth is, I like my characters sassy. Wait, I like them loyal. Wait, I like them brave but aware of the risk, and afraid if need be. And as I mentioned above, I even like them faulty, but with enough depth and growth to justify their being protagonists (or supporting players) in their own book. The one thing I can't stand is characters who don't learn anything from their mistakes, or are cut slack for no reason.

On a side note, I typically don't read romance, but in case one of my books have one, I sure as hell don't want to see one of the lovers depending on the other, or accepting things that should be frowned upon. Independence and self-respect rank very high in my book (pun not intended). Young love doesn't justify your life revolving around the other person, nor letting them call the shots.

It's easy to empathise with characters that are a lot like us, but I find myself falling in love with all kinds of long as they provide great story material. Sometimes I like to see myself mirrored in them, but most of the time, I want them to go where I'd never go, or never will be able to. I want them to be different without having to be special snowflakes. As long as they're leaving a mark, they're my people 😉.

Well, that's it for now. And if you're interested in participating, here is the TMST prompt list for the rest of March and the month of April:
  • March 26th: What are things that make you steer clear of a book?
  • April 2nd: How do you feel about authors throwing big, obscure words into their books?
  • April 9th: What are some of your favorite series you would like to see revisited or a spin off of?
  • April 16th: Where do you get your review books? 
  • April 23: Do you like getting unsolicited books in the mail?
  • April 30: Waiting on Wednesday: do you participate? Do you read the books you highlight?
I'll be back for the meme on April 2nd, and I'm looking forward to reading your replies! Maybe with some examples of those "big, obscure words" if you found them particularly odd LOL.

Now tell me something...what makes you like/dislike a character? and are you fine with unlikeable characters as long as they're interesting to read about, or keep the story in motion?


  1. I agree, that I expect my characters to grow over the course of the book, and that holds true for my MG, YA, and adult characters. I seem to be drawn to quirky characters. Maybe because I am a little odd. But, like you, they need to be interesting in some way, but I can honestly say, I have yet to read a book featuring boring characters.

    1. Growth is the key! For adult characters too, of course. You should never stop learning and growing in your life. And now I'm wondering if I ever read a book where the characters are boring? Maybe more like a book (or books) where the characters don't have that special spark...Characters can make or break a book, though of course the plot is important - but without quirky/deep/interesting/coming-of-age characters, it sort of fizzles out for me...

  2. I think this question is too hard for me. 😂 As you say, I like just about any character that develops over the course of the novel. That's so vague though, and not really a "trait", so I guess more specifically, I'm always drawn to characters who are unapologetic monsters. I love a good redemption arc, but I also love characters who know they're bad people and don't care (e.g. Edward Forrester from Anita Blake, Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows). It lets me see some of their darker aspects without excuses or justifications for bad behavior. That can go poorly in the opposite direction into flatly evil villains though, and that's one of my least favorite qualities. "That's just what evil things do" isn't very interesting. I'm getting the sense that I'm hard to please...

    1. Quote: "I'm always drawn to characters who are unapologetic monsters".
      😂 😂 😂
      Seriously though - I get what you're saying. Of course this doesn't mean we have to set them as examples or anything - they're just well-developed characters who are complex and believable and set the plot in motion.

    2. "Of course this doesn't mean we have to set them as examples or anything"

      Not at all, and I think there are many things wrong with drawing a straight line between fiction and life. Reading about monsters (or even enjoying them as characters or plot devices) doesn't equal condoning their actions, but there's a lot of gatekeeping about it, particularly in the YA community.

    3. Is there? I guess I don't know the "right" people then LOL. I can't remember my friends doing something along those lines...unless I don't understand the full implications of "gatekeeping". What I'm on board with is, certain authorial choices can't seem to be healthy. For instance, I'm watching Buffy for the first time (I only have 4 episodes left), and the whole Buffy/Spike relationship is the most unhealthy thing I've ever seen (take the vampire away and you're still left with a psycho stalker and attempted raper, and yet...she likes him? forgives him? pities him? ultimately loves him again because he's got a soul now?). So, what I mean is, certain things should at least be called out, instead of getting romanticised. And I know what I'm talking about because I can't help liking Spike too - I guess part of it is because of James' charisma, but still...sometimes I have to remind myself we're not supposed to "like" Spike, despite his soul/redemption arc. So we're definitely entitled to have baddies in fiction/TV/movies, and we're definitely entitled to like them, as long as we call a spade a spade.

    4. There is on Tumblr, and I hear it's worse on Twitter YA. I don't usually get involved in "discourse" though. I read/blog for fun, not additional stress. I absolutely agree that it's useful to point out things (like the Spike/Buffy relationship) that are problematic or potentially harmful, and we should be critical of the media we consume. Where it becomes an issue is when people start demonizing Spike/Buffy shippers (the fans, not the ship) and saying they CAN'T ship Spike/Buffy because it is WRONG or that they are BAD people because they ship them. Or, even further, that we shouldn't watch Buffy at all because it has problematic things in it. It turns into attacks on the fans or the show or the characters without any nuance. We're reasonable humans. We can admit that there are things that are very wrong with Spike and Buffy's relationship and still enjoy it and their character arcs. I don't always love things because they're pure and perfect. In fact, I love some fiction/shows that are pretty messed up. 😂 That doesn't mean I don't see how messed up it is or want/condone that stuff in real life.

    5. I think the main problem is that some things don't get called out (or at least they didn't until a few years ago). We're all human, and sometimes we do the same mistakes IRL that our favourite (or even not favourite) characters do...but some other character in the book/show/movie should balance that kind of narrative with a critical opinion. Of course, I like a few messed up things myself, and I can't say I'm holier-than-thou or anything LOL. I don't know if I could ever be friends with Sita, but I enjoy reading about her even when she wreaks havoc - heck, precisely because of that haha.

  3. I'm the same -t hey can be flawed but they need to be working towards something so they grow as a character over the book.

    Karen @ For What It's Worth

    1. And this is different from becoming good when they started out as bad, isn't it? It's something much more realistic...they learn some kind of lesson and evolve. Most good books seem to move along these lines.

  4. I wouldn't say that there is one characteristic that will make me fall in love with a character, but I do highly value depth and complexity. I don't just want a villain for the sake of having a villain; I want a villain with a story that I could (to some extent) understand. No one is just a villain and no one is just a hero. There has to be something more to the story.

    That being said, I do tend to like sassy and sarcastic characters as well as ones who aren't afraid to stand up for themselves (within reason).
    On the other hand, there are definitely some traits that can make me hate a character, especially overwhelming arrogance. It kind of ties into your point about characters who never think that they have to change.

    Falling in love shouldn't be a character trait either, even though a lot of authors treat it like one. I can appreciate a good romance story, but I don't want the characters to be reduced to only their romantic feelings. Romance is not personality.

    That rant went in a different direction than I thought it would, but I am sticking with it. Thanks for starting such a great conversation!

    Tessa @ Crazy for YA

    1. Quote: "No one is just a villain and no one is just a hero."
      I absolutely second that!

      Quote: "I don't want the characters to be reduced to only their romantic feelings. Romance is not personality."
      Ha! I try to stay clear from books with romance (or too much of it), so I can't recall having met such characters personally, but this sounds like a good point. If falling in love is the main thing that defines certain characters, they're weak. Not because of the love itself of course, but because they have to be "something" besides people capable of romantic feelings.

      I love your rants, you know that. So stick with them to your heart's content! 😉

  5. Aww look at you go, Roberta! I'm also not picky either as long as they're interesting. Of course, sometimes it's too much, and well... that doesn't end well. I hate damsels in distress though - I've always been attracted to characters that are badasses and can get out of a sticky situation or having a major disadvantage but still going with it, even if it's not a good idea. I also hate extreme whiners despite being a bit of a whiner myself according to my mom, but sometimes even characters whine more than I do. (Of course, if it's a series, well, that's another story. Depends on my mood then.)

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE a good sassy character, and honestly, now that I have this in mind, you should definitely check out Three Mages and a Margarita. The main character is sassy and also brave and also learns from her mistakes, which despite being conveniently advantaged as a human being, I still like her and the books.

    1. The damsel-in-distress trope has to go go go. It's perfectly OK for a female character to be afraid or find herself in need of saving occasionally - but so is for a male one. And it shouldn't be the norm, and she shouldn't need a big, strong, handsome hero to save her ass.

      I tend to cut some slack to whiny characters, because sometimes it's OK to whine too - and as you said, we do that in real life (yes, even old ladies like yours truly), so it's just realistic. But of course, we want more from our fictional people 😉.

      I see you breezing through The Guild Codex series on GR 😉. It's NA and (urban) fantasy though...two things I tend to stay away from, except on special occasions...I don't know. I got my fingers burned by a handful of my new books lately, so I'm being even more cautious than my usual self LOL.


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