Some of my favorite characters are the most sarcastic ones. They’re witty, loud, and sometimes, downright rude. They’re the kind of characters that, if they were real-life people, you’d typically want to punch them in the face.
So why do we like them? How do we create characters that, realistically, would be so annoying, but are still an interesting character that readers can enjoy?
- Redemption: Make their good characteristics outweigh the bad. Maybe this character seems to only care about himself, but in the end, has a heart of gold. Or maybe they just care about one person, but it’s such a deep love that the reader can’t help but be emotionally attached.A good example of this is Bartimaeus in the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. This
djinn is so witty and lackadaisical that it seems for the majority of the books, he cares only for himself. But, in the end, there are moments where he shows how caring he actually is, though he tries vehemently to deny it.
- Tragic Backstory: Sometimes, sarcastic characters have a tragic backstory that somewhat explains why the character acts the way they do. Typically, it’s a way to protect their emotions; it’s a facade they put on.Others have a tragic backstory, but they’re only sarcastic because that’s how they are. Still, the tragic backstory makes the sarcastic character more relatable, or gives the reader an opportunity to feel sympathetic towards them.
Most sarcastic superheros fall into this niche. Batman can be pretty witty towards his foes, but everyone knows his tragic backstory with his parents. Iron Man is a sarcastic diva, but his daddy issues and deep-ridden guilt makes him lovable–or, at least, sympathetic.
- Give Them Cause: All characters should have something to drive them, but to make a sarcastic character likable writers may want to lift the stakes a little.Such as in the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer, Artemis’s hunt for his father and keeping up his father’s business is what drives the first few books.
While Artemis isn’t an outstanding person and doesn’t exactly have a heart of gold, the risks he takes just to find his father again are enough to keep the reader intrigued.
- Undeniably Funny: Of course, with those who are comedic by nature, you may be able to write a character that’s so funny that people won’t mind that he or she’s a little bit of a jerk.If you’re like me, who couldn’t be funny in a book without giving tons of people second-hand embarrassment, then you might want to turn down the attempts at funny and use one of the other tips.