A few weeks ago I was in a hurry to catch my train. I had my umbrella all set in my tote bag, but at the last minute took it out to grab my cap. The umbrella disappeared. With no moments to spare, I did without. Wouldn't you know, it started raining. Fortunately, my hood was enough to protect me.
That was an unusual circumstance. I own at least six umbrellas scattered in various locations in my house, plus another in my work desk drawer. When the forecast calls for rain, I'm not one to leave the house empty-handed. From this description of my behavior, you might guess I'm a cautious person, not one to take chances. On the whole, I am.
Then again, I absolutely love playing slots. I have to tear myself away from a machine, whether or not I'm winning or losing. Since I'm aware of this weakness, I practice some restraint by limiting my slot playing to vacation.
Another example of risk taking is the fact I self-published Killer Career. Many authors would be loath to take on such a project, but I enjoyed the challenge. That doesn't mean I didn't have qualms, wondering if people would like my book. Fortunately, I must have done something right since Killer Career is highly recommended by The Midwest Book Review, among other reviewers.
Taking the focus away from myself, here's another example for you to consider.
What's your conception of a motorcyclist? Does the image of a wild, unkempt, sex-crazed person with no respect for society's rules spring to mind?
There are probably cyclists like that. Then again, I've heard there are many respectable, white collar, large bankrolled individuals who enjoy riding motorcycles. Some of their machines are quite expensive.
Also, I've seen videos on the news about the Toys for Tots Parade, where motorcyclists gather up toys for children for Christmas. The parade even has a Facebook page. How mainstream is that?
So, people are not as easy to read as you may think. It's something to think about when you're writing. To add dimension to your character, consider adding a quirk, pastime, or weakness that may seem contradictory to expectations. Just don't overdo it, or your good guy could turn into the bad guy, or vice versa. Of course, if that's what you want, go for it.
Can you think of an example in your book or another's where the character says or does something unexpected? Please share with us.