Am I the Butt Face? How to Make (and be) a Likeable Character

October 22, 2019 00:27:05
Am I the Butt Face? How to Make (and be) a Likeable Character
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Am I the Butt Face? How to Make (and be) a Likeable Character

Hosted By

Carrie Jones Shaun Farrar

Show Notes

Why Do People Suck So Much?


One of the biggest things you hear in the world of writing is to make your character likeable, which is great and all but gives you two questions: 


  1. How. How do you make your characters likable?
  2. How do you make your characters likable when in real life people suck so much? There’s an entire Reddit thread called “Am I the A-Hole?” 


We talk about the second question in our RANDOM THOUGHT in the podcast, so the writer-helpful stuff is here, now. Ready? 


What Do the Bad Guys Care About?


Usually they are propelled by greed or power. In our society those things are usually indicative of a bad guy. Although, some segments of our society seem to laud those traits now. 


What Do We Have to Do to Make Our Characters (or our selves) Not the Bad Guy?


People want to care about the character. You automatically think that means the character is nice, right? No. 


Think about those Marvel movies. Iron Man’s kind of a jerk. Sherlock Holmes? Jerk. But we still like and care about them. Why? 


Here is What You Need To Do To Make Your Character Not an Butt Face


The character has a big want and/or need.


Iron Man wants to save the world. 


Sherlock Holmes needs to catch a murderer. 


We connect with that because we all have wants or needs. 


I want to make $5,000 a month. This possibly make me a bad guy because that seems to be about money BUT if I want to make $5,000 a month so that I can pay for my child with autism’s medicines? Not quite so awful, right? It’s all in the presentation and the reason. 


Conflicting Wants are What Really Makes It Pop


When our character wants to save the world, but saving the world mean that he must sacrifice his entire business that he’s worked so hard to build up? That’s when our interest is super EXCITED. We’re all – Oh. Snap. What will he choose? What would I choose? 


Caring About Others Who Are More Vulnerable


This is the big one, really.


In the Star Wars movies, Rey is super snarky with the little droid when we first meet her, but then she refuses to sell that little droid baby for scrap money and protects it. Bing. We love this resilient go-getter named Rey who now has conflicting wants of her own survival (needs money) and protecting the droid (probably going to cost her money and her life). 


So, we care about Rey because she cares. She has empathy. 


What are the characteristics people admire in others? 
















Give your character one of those if you can. 


Give them a Wicked Sad, Sob-Story Life Before the Story


Harry Potter? Orphan. 


Rey? Orphan. 


Captain America? Orphan. 


Iron Man? Orphan.


Luke Skywalker? Orphan. 


Captain Kirk? Orphan. 


James in James and the Giant Peach? Orphan. 


Do you see a pattern? Characters WHO HAVE HAD a background full of grief or pain or sadness, we’re more likely to love them. You grieve for them. You want to feed them. You root for them.


Write in the First Person or the Close Third Person Point of View. 


When we see what the characters do and why they do it, how they think, what they feel, then it’s easier to feel, think, relate and be like them.




Make your character a lovable orphan who cares about others, basically. 



Move beyond your sad story. Realize that someone out there is going to make you the villain in their story and try not to care about that. Just do little moment of goodness. Do them over and over again. 


Random Thought:


In the audio of the podcast, we talk about





The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.







Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 


Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 



Learn With Me at the Writing Barn!


The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!


“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”


“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”




My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!




It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 


You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?


In the Woods
In the Woods




You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 





You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 


Check it out here. 




A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Other Episodes


April 03, 2018 00:15:10
Episode Cover

Brainstorming - Five Ways To Get Story Ideas

Brainstorming? Even the word sounds a little creepy. Like there is a storm inside your brain. It sounds… It sounds sort of violent and hazardous and windy. In this podcast, we talk about the storms inside our brain and how those storms can become story ideas. Five Ways To Get Story Ideas Some authors have a really hard time just getting an idea for a new story. They burn out. They can’t find anything that they think is ‘good enough.’ They just don’t know where to start and that lack of a start makes them blocked. This is so sad! There are ways to fight it. One way To Storm is BY admiring other’s work Think about ways that other people’s stories influence you. If you’re an Outlander fan, think about why. If you were to write your own kind of time travel story would it be like that? With a lot of spanking and stuff? Or something totally different. How would it be different? Another Way to Incite a Hailstorm of Questions Ask your self questions. It’s all about ‘What if?’ What if Trump wasn’t president in 2018? What if everyone had blue hair? What if the earth had two ...



August 09, 2022 00:17:14
Episode Cover

Brad Pitt in a Skirt and Mixing Things Up in Your Relationships To Make Them Last

One of the key components of happiness and living a good life is having a good close relationship with someone else and for a lot of us, our closest relationship is with our spouse. Cough. Shaun and Carrie are spouses. Is this the key to our happiness? It’s a good question. Eli Finkel, a professor of psychology of Northwestern University, wrote a book “The All-Or-Nothing Marriage” and he also wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times where he spoke about how much we expect of our spouses. Those expectations can make things better or um . . . worse. “At the heart of the American ideal of marriage lurks a potential conflict. We expect our spouse to make us feel loved and valued, while also expecting him or her to help us discover and actualize our best self — to spur us to become, as Tom Cruise’s titular character in “Jerry Maguire” puts it, “the me I’d always wanted to be.” “The problem is that what helps us achieve one of these goals is often incompatible with what helps us achieve the other. To make us feel loved and valued, our spouse must convey appreciation for the person we currently are. To help us grow, he or she must emphasize the discrepancy between that person and the person we can ideally become, typically by casting a sober, critical eye on our faults.” Cough. This seems like a pretty good out in any argument. “It wasn’t that I was criticizing you for not installing the bidet I bought you for our anniversary for six months honey when I said you were a procrastinator, it was that I was trying to help you be the person ...



February 26, 2019 00:23:22
Episode Cover

Zombie Deer, Carrie at 2:30 a.m. and Emotions Are Contagious

When you're in a business or nonprofit or just in your house, you'll often notice that emotions are kind of like the flu. They can be easy to catch. When your friend is angry because someone is being a punk on Facebook, you often get angry, too. When your kid is sad, you can get sad. Emotions from others often seep into us, especially in a workplace. Let's say everyone is super excited at a writing conference. Are you going to get super excited, too? Probably. It's all about mirror neurons, emotional intelligence, and biomimicry. Put simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and control our own emotions and the emotions of other people. Matt Hunckler for Forbes Part of emotional intelligence is understanding that we often adopt or mimic the expressions, behavior and emotion of those we spend a great deal of time with. Those bonds can help us or hurt us. Research from University of Oklahoma and University of Texas at Austin shows that when individuals dislike the same people or find a common dislike of something in general, all of a sudden those individuals have a bond that easily turns into a friendship because it’s a connection.What’s the life lesson in this? Take a minute and reflect, asking yourself:What types of emotion do I give off and how does that affect others I interact with such as my family, roommates, team ...