OK, so we've established that your main character needs to be essentially 'good', and now I might seem to be contradicting myself. Well, I am and I'm not.
Look at it this way, how do you feel about people in your life who are perfect? They never seem to do anything wrong, they're good at everything, and seem to have a boatload of luck. We hate these people, right? Same goes for fictional characters.
If you want a character to be likeable, he or she has to be flawed. How flawed do I mean? Well, that depends on your character and the circumstances you're thrusting her in to. But, think of some of your favorite characters and list their flaws.
- Hamlet's indecision
- Elizabeth's hastiness to cast judgment
- Frankenstein's insatiable curiosity
- Superman's kryptonite
Flaws are often pigeon-holed into one of three categories: minor, major or tragic. Minor flaws are surface imperfections, like Oedipus' club foot.
Major flaws, meanwhile, are larger problems that will cause significant hindrance. An example would be Heathcliff's infatuation with Cathy.
The tragic flaw, or as Aristotle dubbed it harmatia belongs to ...yes, you've guessed it, tragic heroes. It's the aforementioned indecisiveness of Hamlet, its the hubris of Oedipus or the jealousy of Othello - faults in a character that will, inevitably, lead to his downfall.