Check out this article from K.M. Weiland, readers!
8 Ways to Avoid Cardboard Characters (and Plot Contrivances While You’re At It)
“The plot was contrived, and the characters were cardboard.” Ouch. That’s about as bad as it can get when it comes to negative story reviews. It’s also perhaps one of the most common complaints audiences have about stories. Certainly, it’s one that irritates me the most! Here’s the thing though: cardboard characters often cause plot contrivances—and vice versa. Once you realize this, it can become a little easier to figure out how to identify and avoid cardboard characters (and plot contrivances) in your own fiction.
This post was inspired by two different western romance novelists I read recently. Neither was perfect, but one I really enjoyed and the other, although better than many, almost invariably compromised her stories with this dreaded tandem of cardboard characters and plot contrivances. What I recognized was that her characters weren’t cardboard until the plot grew contrived—and vice versa, the plot didn’t feel contrived until the characters stopped exhibiting dimensionality in their choices and actions.