"No shit, Rick. I came all the way to your blog to hear you tell me this. Next you're going to recommend clean drinking water and breathable air."
Hear me out!
One of the things that separates great stories from the mediocre is the depth of the character Nothing shows character depth more than contradictory personality traits. The reason for that is that people are contradictory in real life. We don't act the same way all the time and we change our personalities to suit the situation.
Think about a classic television show - M*A*S*H. The antagonist is Frank Burns, a military disciplinarian whose unwavering patriotism often gets in the way of common sense. Episode after episode have Pierce and McIntyre infuriating Frank with their laid back approach and unprofessionalism despite the fact that both of those surgeons are gifted in the operating room. But this cardboard characterization only takes the viewer so far - and it's offset by character traits that are contradictory, but endearing. For example, he trusts Radar O'Reilly despite showing on many occasions that he doesn't respect enlisted men. Some of the best scenes are of him and Radar in unguarded moments where he talks about his affair with Margaret (Hot Lips) and his dependency on his wealthy wife back home. Another seemingly contradictory trait centers on his religious beliefs. Normally he claims to only rely on the Army and its regulations, but when faced with real danger he is shown to pray, sometimes sincerely rather than desperately.
Here's today's exercise: