Definition: A contradiction is something about a person that piques our interest because it betrays what we expect, given what else we know about a character. It expresses a paradox of human nature: people do one thing and exactly the opposite. They're this, but they're also that.
Contradictions basically serve two key dramatic purposes:
1. Defy expectation and thus pique our interest.
2. Provide a straightforward method for depicting complexity and depth.
Specifically, they provide a means to portray:
- Subtext (the tension between the expressed and the unexpressed, the visible and the concealed)
- The situational subtleties of social life (I must be many things to many people)
- The conflict between conscious and unconscious behavior
- Suspense (we want to know what the conflict means; why it's there)
"The great challenge of fiction is creating characters who feel logically, emotionally and psychologically consistent - who make sense - but retain the enigmatic power to surprise." ~ Brian Klems ~