QOTD: Writing Bad Characters

As a writer and a person who has struggle with likability — being likable, wanting to be liked, wanting to belong — I have spent a great deal of time thinking about likability in the stories I read and those I write. I am often drawn to unlikable characters, to those who behave in socially unacceptable ways, say whatever is on their mind, and do what they want with varying levels of regard for the consequences. I want characters to do bad things and get away with their misdeeds. I want characters to think ugly thoughts and make ugly decisions. I want characters to make mistakes and put themselves first without apologizing for it.

Bad Feminist // Roxane Gay

I’ve been deeply enjoying this book by Roxane Gay. The idea of being a bad feminist is one that resonates with me. At the beginning of the book she explores the idea of feminism and how we put feminist women on pedestals, often to later be knocked down when they do something not feminist. Who defines what is feminist and what isn’t feminist? The idea of a bad feminist reminds me of the both/and concept. You can be both a feminist and something that others consider “not feminist” because you are human. Being a feminist does not mean being a perfect idealized femi-bot. This excerpt reminds me a lot of how I feel when I am writing. I want to say things that are dark or rude simply because as a writer you often have to feed these things out in order to maintain some level of likability. Whatever I say on my blog, or on my twitter, becomes an impacted part of my persona. My words are not me, but they become me. And that in itself is a both powerful and terrifying sentiment that, I suppose, drives some mad women to fiction.