Contradictions Make the World (and Your Story) More Interesting

People are full of contradictions. We want things that we don’t have, and we get tired of things that we fought so hard to get. We say we’re going to do one thing, but we end up doing something entirely different. And it’s not just people who behave this way. Contradictions happen everywhere. Just when we think we have a clear understanding of how the world works, it does something entirely different. Drugs developed to cure one ailment cause unexpected side-effects that trigger another. Hurricanes that are projected to head in one direction take an entirely different path.

People Like to See Patterns, But…

People prefer to see patterns over contradictions because they can analyze them and develop rules, which they think can be used to predict the future. Unfortunately, nobody can really predict the future because there’s always an exception to the rule. Contradictions arise and unexpected events turn up all the time. When this happens, our reaction is to take a closer look. People are fascinated by contradictions and want to dissect them for answers, even when there aren’t any answers to be found.

Contradictions Make Your Story More Interesting

Contradictions are just as strong in fiction as they are in the real world. Not only does a contradiction trigger the part of the brain that wants to know why things aren’t happening the way they’re supposed to, but it also makes the character that’s stuck in the middle much more relatable. If you can find the contradictions in your characters and their adventures and show them to the reader, it can help the reader build a quicker connection (and bond) with that character.

We all know people who are both shy and rude, cruel and funny, opinionated and protective. This contradictory mixture of traits, which seems to come out during times of stress or conflict, is what makes a person inherently unpredictable. Contradiction sets the stage for surprises that keep readers enthralled in your story and wondering what might happen next.

Stefan Jaskiel

Hello! I began his writing career way back in 1993, when I stumbled upon my first job as a Technical Writer. I never imagined myself writing user guides and programming manuals (technical how-to books), but my interest in technology coupled with my diverse college experience made me a natural fit for that kind of work.

About a quarter of a century later (in 2016), I finally cut his corporate ties (literally, with a pair of scissors), stepped out of the cubicle, and followed my heart back to the world of fiction…. kind of. Now, I writes how-to books about fiction as I make my transition from technical writer to full-time novelist.