Character Likeability and Reflection of Self


Last week we talked about selecting your story’s main character. There were a couple exercises offered to help you identify who would stand out in your story. Did you try these? And did either of them help you in identifying your main character? This weeks topic ties into selecting your main character, but also into a topic brought up in the ProWritingAid’s Sci-Fi week conference.


The Character’s depth and likeability aren’t always the same thing. Finding the balance gives your readers the connection and depth without pushing them from your characters.

Likeability and Reflection of Self:

This week I took part in ProWritingAid’s Science Fiction Week. They’ve brought together various science fiction authors for interviews, created workshops, and included networking events. I’ve never done this before, so it’s a learning experience for me. Today one of the key speakers was Andy Weir, for those who don’t know he’s the author of The Martian, Artemis, and Project Hail Mary. All outstanding books, and during his interview, Andy and others brought up the character development for each novel.

The Martian

Andy Weir described Mark Watney as all his best traits without and of the flaws. He’s a funny, smart ass, that’s also extremely intelligent. And that’s about as deep as Mark Watney gets. You know he’s an astronaut, which is no minor achievement but there’s minimal background information. This works for this story because it’s a man versus nature tale. We aren’t worried about how his past led to the type of person he is; we want to know if he survives or not. When readers, and viewers of the film adaptation, voiced their desire for a character with more depth, Andy agreed and tried his best in the next novel.


Andy described the book as the one people forget he wrote. I don’t know if that was just a poor release advertisement or what, because it caught me by surprise when I saw he had another book out. The main character in Artemis is Jasmine Bashara. Andy felt Jazz reflected his true self and few people liked the character. I thought she was great for the story, but everyone has their own opinions. The complaints came that the character was too flawed and unlikeable. I think this brings up a good point that people, like events, in reality sometime exceed what we’ll accept in fiction. Not everyone is ready to see an actual reflection of a person in writing. And after that feedback, Andy Weir came in with another magnificent novel.

Project Hail Mary

I think Andy Weir really found his balance needed for the character Ryland Grace. A middle school teacher turned astronaut wakes up with amnesia. I think the reason Ryland Grace works as a character is that he’s relearning about himself as the readers learn about him. The high tension maintained by Andy Weir throughout the book helps develop the character further and shows how the balance in character is essential.


Today’s practice is simple, but can be scary. If you have a character you’ve been working on for a while, share them with someone. You don’t have to share your novel or short story, if you’re already there, but write a scene that sums up the characters’ characterizing points and see how a reader might view them. Remember that others can give their opinions, but you don’t have to take everyone. It’s your story, character, and world, so don’t let others dictate what’s right or wrong.


Finding the balance between a character’s likeability and their reality isn’t learned in one sitting. Continue to develop your characters respective to their stories. Sometimes you’ll need a Mark Watney, and other times you’ll need a Jazz or Ryland. Learn from the authors of today to help you become an author of tomorrow.

Thank you for reading, and if you haven’t read Andy Weir’s books, I’d highly recommend them to and hard science fiction fans. Next week I’ll do a character wrap-up post to touch on all the highlights we’ve covered so far. Thank you for your continued support. Keep reading, keep writing, and stay fresh, my nugs!

Previous: Selecting Your Story’s Main Character

Next: Character Creation Closeout

One thought on “Character Likeability and Reflection of Self

  1. Pingback: Selecting Your Story’s Main Character – Myers Fiction

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