(Disclaimer – this post has nothing to do with yesterday’s.)
It’s only natural for people to complain. Of course, the validity of your complaint is something else entirely. I’m sure a few people are looking at the title of this post with a raised brow: go take a look at White Whine and you’ll begin to see where I’m going with this. Note that just because the site is called “white whine”, that doesn’t mean that only white people complain. No racism here folks, just trying to keep the alphabet theme going.
The whole White Whine/#firstworldproblems phenomenon does have some merit to it – if you take a look at the suffering that people endure in third world countries, having the cashier at McDonalds forget to put ketchup on your burger seems a little less complainworthy in comparison. How does this relate to writing fiction though?
If your character does nothing but complain, people will get irritated. If they actually have a reason to complain, then people will grow more attached to them. Did they lose their arm in the war? People will feel sympathetic, even if most of your readership won’t have lost an arm in the war. Did they drop their ice cream? You might have dropped an ice cream or enjoy it yourself, to an extent you might feel sympathy. Did a relative of theirs buy store brand sugar instead of the real stuff? Lost interest.
I’m not saying that a character can’t be a whiner at the start of the story and evolve over time – in fact, that’s the best way to do it. Just make sure that if they’re opening their mouth to complain, it’s about an actual trial in their life and that complaining suits their character.