9 Ways To Make Readers Care For An Amoral Protagonist


Writers Write is your one-stop resource for writers. This post will help you to make your amoral protagonist more likeable.

Sometimes there’s a hero who is even darker than an anti-hero. This character is amoral or morally challenged. In fact, he or she is usually a psychopath.

It is fascinating to read a book with this type of protagonist. When the author gets it right, you will find yourself rooting for a criminal.

We found this article on io9.com  and we thought they came up with some great ideas to get your readers on this type of character’s side.

Nine ways to make readers care:

  1. Make their ends noble even if their means are evil.
  2. Ensure there is a line even they won’t cross.
  3. Give them someone or something they care about.
  4. Show us how they lost their moral compass.
  5. Make everyone else worse than they are.
  6. Give them a sense of humour.
  7. Make them lose.
  8. Falsely accuse them of worse crimes.
  9. Make everyone hate them.

Examples of books with amoral protagonist:

  1. The Dexter series by Jeff Lindsay. Dexter is a serial killer, but he is different because he only kills other killers.
  2. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. Tom Ripley wants to be wealthy and he kills a rich friend to gain access to his monthly trust fund cheques. There is something charming about him and we root for him as he evades capture. The rich friends are often worse than Tom himself.
  3. The Book of Evidence by John Banville. Freddie Montgomery’s wife and child are held as collateral when a debt comes due. He returns to Ireland to steal a painting and accidentally kills a girl in the process. He goes on the run, but he truly believes he has done nothing wrong.

Read the full article here: 10 Ways to Make Everyone Root for Your Amoral Protagonist

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg or sign up for our online course.

by Amanda Patterson

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This article has 6 comments

  1. Christina North

    These are some great tips.

  2. S.M. Stirling

    It’s actually technically easier to write people who are worse than you are; you just have to get down with your bad self. Memorable villains are much more common than memorable saints. That’s like trying to write the poetry of a character who’s a great poet… when you aren’t, yourself.

  3. S.M. Stirling

    Also, of course, evil can just be a hell of a lot of fun, if you’re not a Puritan about your imagination. Most people fantasize doing things they’d never do in reality — so why not do so in other people’s fantasies?

  4. Tsandi Crew

    Sounds like Batman and the Green Arrow characters of comic books. Comic book stories are just as interesting and as good to read as other literary stories. Even when written without the illustrations.

  5. Steph LJ

    I’ve found that writing the evil protagonist can be a lot of fun! My evil mean girl says and thinks things that a lot of us think, but would never say out loud, or even admit to. I feel like I’ve funneled my frustrations into her, and I love the thoughts of redeeming her later on.

  6. Susan Wingate

    This is great writing advice.

Comments are now closed.