This tip may sound like a cheat for character development, but it’s really not. When you have a character who feels flat or one-dimensional, it’s usually because you’re playing him or her too close to an archetype. The gruff, hard-boiled detective, the dumb blonde supermodel. You’re relying on your readers’ understanding of what these types are like to fill in the blanks rather than giving them a full and vibrant interior landscape. By inserting a contradictory interest or hobby, you’ve suddenly created tension. Maybe the detective secretly paints landscapes, because his therapist has recommended it to calm anxiety stemming from his PTSD. Maybe the dumb blonde isn’t so dumb after all and she’s secretly a chess master.
[bctt tweet=”When you have a character who feels flat or one-dimensional, it’s usually because you’re playing him or her too close to an archetype.”]
Once you have that tension, you need to decide how to reconcile it with your character’s surface demeanor. Why does the detective have PTSD and why painting? How did the supermodel become an expert at chess… or even better, how did a bookish childhood chess prodigy become a supermodel? When you’re forced to integrate contradictions in your character, they instantly become more complex and interesting, and it gives you an opportunity to create backstory that your readers can discover throughout the course of the book.