As a reader, I've always had difficulty rooting for a "bad guy" protagonist in fiction; very rarely do I find one I can stand - Westlake's Dortmunder character, mainly because he's a just a likeable/unlucky schlub; maybe Doc in Thompson's The Getaway, though offhand I can't think of why.

I'm currently stuck on this problem with a character in my latest short story. He's an interesting guy, a pretty intense fellow, but I can't find a reason for readers to really connect and agree to follow him through the story... Anybody have any advice?

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The "bad guy" doesn't have to be especially sympathetic, just interesting enough for readers to want to know what will happen to him. You can do whatever you want in terms of motivations for his behavior - it's your book, right? Also, I've read plenty of books where the baddie just gave me the shivers, I had no sympathy, but maybe a wee bit of empathy and it's been enough. Good luck!
See Barry Eisler's assassin series. He also answered that question on a thriller panel at Bouchercon once. As long as the antihero eliminates even more horrible villains and never harms the innocent, you're pretty much okay. And there are some other ways also, such as not having any choice in the matter.
The "not having any choice" thing really made me think about retooling a section of the story. In doing so, I believe I have "fixed" the character. Thanks, I.J. and everybody!


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