Who wants cardboard characters? Not the author and certainly not the reader. Have you heard the old but always good advice? Show, don't tell. This is best done if it flows out of a situation the author has set up. A situation that simmers.
Below is a short scene where one of my characters gets an unexpected surprise. We are at a Mennonite summer camp for missionaries in the Colorado mountains. Beth is the main character in the novel.
Charles gave a slight wave and watched someone approach our table.
I turned to see who he greeted and froze. My heart began a frenzied pounding in my chest.
It couldn’t be, but it was. Her face paled as she recognized me. The “Oh Shit!” moment.
No one had said a word. Charles looked from me to the other woman. “You two know each other?”
“Yes,” I said, speaking quickly. “We were journalism majors at the University of Missouri. I guess you already know Lauren."
If Lauren’s looks could kill, I would be a dead woman walking. She and I had been rivals for men and grades and then the job interviews at the university. I got the better grades and the better men, too, and had aced my job interviews. We had begun as friends until she black-balled me from her sorority. I joined another one, but she hated something about me. Maybe everything. I hadn’t thought about her for years.
The eleven years between graduation and now hadn't been kind to Lauren. Her blonde hair was dry from over-coloring. She had put on at least twenty pounds, and her face was pale. Lauren had always sported a tan. Not this year. Finally she spoke.
“Hello Beth. What brings you to the mountains?’ She was trying, but not succeeding to keep the bitterness out of her voice.
Before I could answer, Charles, who must have felt the tension, said, “Oh, I asked Beth to come out here and do the one-on-one interviews. She has eight solid years of newspaper work on her resumé.” He gave me a smiling look of admiration. “Not to mention that she has a contract with a university to write a book.”
He had no idea he was hammering metaphorical nails into my coffin,
In my most sincere voice, I said, “I’m sure Lauren has reams of accomplishments she’s too modest to mention.”
“Yeah, a wedding, two kids a year apart, a divorce, and some dead-end jobs. And now the kids and I are living in my parent’s duplex.” Lauren's emotionless monotone recitation shocked me. I had expected her at least to marry Mr. Success.
I said,“Oh, kids! I bet they’re as good-looking and smart as their mom.”
She squared her shoulders and produced a hint of a smile. They’re okay . I’ve got some photos I’ll show you.”
I hope the reader wants to see these two women interacting again. Do they have life? I think so.
Anne Stenhouse http://annestenhousenovelist.
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Diane Bator https://dbator.blogspot.com/
Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-2TY
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Victoria Chatham http://www.victoriachatham.com
A.J. Maguire http://ajmaguire.wordpress.
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/