The first of my crime shorts features an unlikeable character: a young boy, ‘innocent’ in some senses and, depending on the reader’s assessment, possibly 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 today One Amazon reviewer stated ‘The darkest, most horrible story I’ve ever read.’ (1 star) That wasn’t my intention: more to provoke unease and reflection. Have I done this?
Do let me know in a review.