Making a Character Likeable

Wikimedia Commons

I had my writing group on Monday and it went well as always. Everyone seemed to enjoy my Chapter 4. I even got a “this is the most exciting chapter so far”, which was nice. It was the most fun chapter to write.

There were a few suggestions, one of which I need to fix right now before I continue writing. It turns out my main protagonist, Art, is proving to be not too likeable. I need my audience to want my main character to succeed rather than want him to be captured by the villains of the story. My audience needs to care about Art.

Part of the problem, I’m hearing, is that they don’t like some of the choices Art makes. For example, he is told not to go somewhere and goes there anyhow. One of the members of my writing group has sons in my target audience and they were both turned off by this. I really need this plot point, so I’m not going to abandon it. However, I could soften it a bit.

Also, when confronted with a very arrogant manner. Should I soften this with some internal doubts?

My question is this: How do you make a character likeable? How do you get the audience to care whether or not your character succeeds. I don’t want him to be flat. I want him to have flaws and act in ways I or the audience does not. However, I don’t want them to wish harm on the guy.

Any help would be very much appreciated.

Unrelated, my weekly children’s review is up at This week I review a book by Eric Carle.