Your characters probably read like cardboard cutouts, doing expected things in expected scenarios. The fix is deliciously mean: Deny them the things they expect! When you shove characters out of their comfort zones, they do unexpected things and grow more complex in the process. Got a cliché girly girl who jumps into her car after school and races to her room for a good cry when someone hurts her feelings? Slash her tires and force her to walk home—in the rain no less . . . and then make sure no one’s home to let her in. How will she respond to being stuck outside after a day like that? Will she find humor in Murphy’s Law, or will she bash her way through a window? Either way, we’ll get a look at her mettle. She won’t be a cardboard cutout just going through the motions. She’ll be going through the emotions—and deepening as a result.
I love your “deliciously mean” comment.
Some of the things we do as writers qualify as “tough love,” that’s for sure.
Haha! Isn’t it awful the way we torture our characters? But at least we get exciting novels out of it. Happy Holidays, Deborah! 😀
I love coming back to this blog time and again to run a search and find gems like this. I was actually looking for something on humor and this deliciously mean scenario – opened up a can of worms of it!!
Glad to help you out, Kim. I’m going to assume that can of worms led to great discoveries. Happy writing!