Characters are interesting when they’re made up of contradictions. It’s those contradictions and the writers who recognize them that create the most memorable characters in works of fiction and nonfiction. If we give our characters’ free will—if we don’t fully know them too soon—they can take us to some interesting places that can either illuminate…

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I was back in my native southeastern Illinois last week, and I happened to have a little dust-up with a stranger at the local fitness center. Let’s say we should have agreed to disagree and left it at that, but we didn’t. She, a very nice elderly lady, broached a subject she shouldn’t have brought…

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