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Characters who Hate Each Other

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Anonymous asked: “I was wondering how you show two characters hating each other for no real reason? Can it be believable that a character just dislikes someone without any real reason to? No harsh backstory and no prejudice?”

Yes and no. Let me explain myself. Yes, characters can hate each other for no real reason. And no, they may hate each other, but there is still a reason why. 

So even if neither character has done anything to the other to harm them or bother them, for there to be hate, there’s got to be a reason. Sometimes the reason is that they assume that the other person is a kind of person or personality that has angered them in the past or reminds them of someone that they want nothing to do with. 

You might have the goth girl beneath the football field bleachers hating the cheerleader practicing on the field. The cheerleader too might hate the goth girl, but why? We can get into issues of jealousy – maybe the goth girl and the cheerleader take the same English class and the cheerleader excels while the goth girl can’t keep up. Maybe it has to do with parental expectations – maybe the cheerleader represents the kind of daughter the goth girl thinks her mother wanted instead. Maybe the cheerleader wishes she could cut loose and express herself more freely like the goth girl but that doesn’t vibe with the strict routine of her life. 

So, simple, stupid example, but you get the point. There might not be a reason. Maybe the two girls have never even spoken directly too each other, but they can still hate each other. And if they do, there’s a reason why. Maybe not something that the other did, but their existence, their presence points out a wrong in their own life that they are still struggling with. 

If your characters hate each other for no reason, there is still a reason. Dig deep and see what’s lurking beneath that. It doesn’t need to relate back to prejudice or anything so direct. It can be smaller, more personal reasons that have led to them hating that other person. 

Understand too, first impressions are a big deal. If one says something that rubs the other the wrong way, they may never get past that. They will always be “the airhead who’d made a thoughtless comment” or “the overcritical jerk” or whatever label you want each character to stick on the other. That’s a reason, a small one that may not actually reflect on the character as a whole at all, but still a believable one. 

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