The first of my Crime Shorts features an unlikeable character: a young boy, ‘innocent’ in some senses but, depending on the reader’s assessment, possibly not in all senses.
I wrote this in the third person but from the main character’s (MC) point of view. (Close 3rd person). The narrator is unreliable, which makes for more effort from the reader. S/he doesn’t have to like the MC. A sneaky liking for an unlikeable character makes the reader uneasy. (What sort of person must I be if I feel sympathy for him?) The edginess can derive from the reader’s being in the MC’s head. The reader has to be drawn to him/her in some way – despite even horror or outrage.
Something unnerving, uneasy, something left ambiguous, can make you read on. There’s a question: is this character telling the truth, or will there be a revelation that will make me re-think? Questions precede page-turns. Edginess is by its nature, an unclear signal.
Edginess doesn’t necessarily require extreme sexual or aggressive behaviour. Risk of some form, especially close to home, can cause the uneasiest feelings; an everyday event suddenly appearing to have a different significance.
I hope I’ve achieved this in the first of my Crime Shorts, A Boy with Potential. You can decide for yourself with the FREE kindle ebook 21st-24th November. One Amazon reviewer stated ‘The darkest, most horrible story I’ve ever read.’ (1 star) That wasn’t my intention: I’d aimed to provoke unease and reflection. Have I done this?
Do let me know in a review.