My main antagonist in THE FAKE MCCOY is a guy named Carr who has a thing for Seth's love interest Rosetta. Seth can't stand Carr. What I've been trying to do is show that Carr is a phony jackass and Seth knows it, but most of the other characters are fooled by Carr's act. Sometimes I wonder if having Seth be so aware undermines what I'm doing here. Like, readers see how much Seth dislikes Carr and take Seth's side and see Carr as he really is, too. Then they wonder, Why does Rosetta even hang out with Carr? He's a jerk!
He is a jerk, but not to her. Or at least, she doesn't see his behavior as such. Not yet.
If Seth wasn't so suspicious of Carr's motives, I don't think readers would be either. They might see what Rosetta sees - a nice guy who sometimes takes things too far. But Seth disliking Carr so strongly adds a lot more tension than if he was as clueless as everyone else. And this is why I set it up that way.
Now I am caught. Is it more important to keep the Love Interest from looking stupid or keeping the tension high?
Ah, writing! Such a balancing act it requires.