Thought I’d put that in the title. That way, if you want to see the movie you don’t read any further. Unless you want to, of course.
So for today’s prompt, I’d like to explore the idea of creating sympathy for an unlikeable (or potentially unlikeable) character.
Black Swan is a great example of how this can be done. The movie starts with a wide point of view. We are introduced to Nina, played by Natalie Portman. We see a painfully shy girl with a domineering mother. As I watched the early scenes, I saw a beautiful young girl who needed to come out of her shell and stand up for herself. And the director gave me a glimmer of potential for that to occur–something to root for.
Further along, the point of view shifts. We go closer and closer to Nina’s perspective until we are deep inside her head. And man, is it ever dark and fucked up in there. Very fucked up. And if I’d seen that at the beginning, I’m not so sure I would have cared what happened to her in the end. But instead, because I had sympathy for her at the beginning, by the end, I so wanted her to become what she could be, to overcome the paranoia and fear inside herself. I wanted her to become the brilliant and beautiful girl I thought she might be.
So for today’s prompt, come up with ways to create sympathy for an unlikeable character. Do you start from a distance and hook the reader before you show their darker side? Do you give them a weakness that almost anyone could relate to? How about a friend that sticks with them no matter what?
What ideas do you have for building sympathy for those dark characters?