We all love a good hero. There’s something about the kind of character we can get behind, root for, and maybe even imagine ourselves in his shoes. We like that sort of thing. A protagonist can be flawed, he can be morally bankrupt, he can be straight-laced, or he can be an anti-hero, but as long as he’s relatable and, more importantly, likeable, the reader is going to enjoy reading about him.
This is no secret of the trade; everyone knows. Likeable protagonists = a reason to keep reading. That’s why it’s strange that we see such a preponderance of a different sort of main character: the hero who has an inordinate amount of angst, who always seems to be complaining, who always falls short, and honestly… We aren’t even sure if we want him to succeed.
I’m speaking, of course, of a character I like to call “Whiney Mopey Man.”
Have you ever read a book and found yourself completely unsympathetic to the main character? It was probably a story about Whiney Mopey Man. I read a manuscript recently about someone trying to get out of the dreaded “friend-zone” and win the heart of the girl who always had his heart. The problem? She’s with another man. The much more pressing problem is that when I read the script, I liked “the other guy” way more than I liked the main character. Other readers said the same thing.
Nobody likes Whiney Mopey Man. So why do we see him so often?