Do you like Miss Snark?

Do you think the protagonist has to always be "likeable" and "sympathetic"?
if I could take those words out of existence. . .
this is regarding women's lit, by the way

Do you like Miss Snark?
Is she likeable?
Is she sympathetic?
(Correct answers listed below)

I think protagonists have to be compelling.
In chick lit, and romance and women's fiction you probably can't get away with a Jack Reacher (Lee Child's hero) or a John Rain (Barry Eisler's hero) .

I mostly want to smack Sophie Kinsella's protagonist Becky but I like reading about her.

Is Scarlett O'Hara likeable? Sympathetic? Maybe. One thing I know --she's compelling.

And the second Mrs. DeWinter in Rebecca....she's pitiable.
How about Jane Eyre?

You have to be compelling if you're not going to be likeable and sympathetic.

(Correct answers : yes, no and no.)


Ira Rosofsky said...

As Lou Grant might say, Jane Eyre got spunk. I read somewhere that Jane Eyre was the number one bestselling book in the 19th century.

And who gets the best lines in Paradise Lost? Could it be Satan?

occasional_anonymous said...

I love Jane Eyre. I can't stand Fanny in Mansfield Park. I want to reach in through the pages and strangle the little wimp. Ditto Esther in Bleak House. Gimme Jane Eyre, Betsey Trotwood and Elizabeth Bennett any day.


Elektra said...

Ah, Elizabeth Bennet...one of the most likable creatures in all of literature.
Despite the fact that I hate everything Becky stands for (i.e. shopping), I still think she's very likable, simply because her heart's always in the right place, even if her brain isn't

Remodeling Repartee said...

I thank Miss Snark for keeping me company in wanting to choke the life out of Becky Bloomwood, but nevertheless devouring the books. Haven't read Sister, yet, the fourth; was wondering if she gets over her material self or what? Guess that's what's on board for next Friday's fluff.

I had this problem in my critque group. I began writing a chick lit and my Fearless Leader and groupies (all women over 50 btw)said my protag was "unlikable" if she was 35 and doing the things she was doing. I hadn't read Bridget Jones yet, so I wasn't able to snap back that BJ does all sorts of silly things as a thirty-something singleton and millions of women found her, if not "likeable," then "compelling."

This criticism messed me up for months. Although the group is responsible for my being able to craft a good scene, if I do say so myself, on the novel, I began doubting myself and writing in circles. I live in not a rural area, but a culturally depressed one, so writers groups are hard to come by. My attendence of late has been spotty, with a corresponding jump in confidence in my work.

Does Miss Snark have any thoughts on critique groups? As in the thoughtful post of 10.2 regarding agents, is a bad one or the wrong one more harm than good?

occasional_anonymous said...

Any critique group can seriously mess a writer around, especially if they lack confidence, or they're just starting out, or they have no handy system of checks and balances. The amount of bad and downright inaccurate advice that's handed out is phenomenal. Mostly it's the blind leading the blind over a cliff. Sorry, a towering precipice. Sorry, no, adjectives are out this week. A cliff.

Any environment that saps your will to write should be treated as hostile. Walk away.

Kitty said...

Correction: You really are likeable, Miss Snark.

Remodeling Repartee said...

Thank you, occassional_anonymous. I conform to those three characteristics. For some reason, I needed permission to walk; now I have it.

Adjectives are appropriate at times; it felt like a towering precipice.

Miss Snark is likeable (pail o'gin-swallowing) and sympathetic (clooney-pining), and utterly compelling (cannot get her voice out of my head and have developed serious addiction to this blog).

brainlesionssuck said...

Likable? If you like honesty more than flimflamery...

kathie at housewifecafe.com