I've been thinking a lot lately about little nuances in the development of characters and why they do what they do. One of my favorite parts about reading is knowing that, most often, if a character is behaving a certain way, if they are having an off day, it is because it's pertinent to the story in some way. I know this isn't the case in real life. In fact, for most of us, an off day is just an off day. We aren't always going to have some huge life lesson or have the course of our existences suddenly changed because of that day. But in writing, we can' t just throw in an off day for our characters just because we want to. It has to mean something for the story. I'm not saying an off day can't happen for a character. What I AM saying is that, if we're hearing about it from the audiences point of view, it better be because that day means something to somebody in the story.
For example: Let's say our MC is trying to solve X murder mystery by process of elimination, Sherlock Holmes style. What happens when he thinks he has all the information, but in reality one of his main suspects chose to spend the day in bed and the real killer is still out there somewhere. The pieces of that story are going to fall in a very different pattern than if the suspect had gone about his day like normal.
It's a cookie cutter example, but you get the idea. I like my stories, both what I write and what I read, to reflect real life at least a little bit, but it's also extremely important that the time a reader spends on my story isn't wasted time. If information is presented, I want it to mean something.
So, there you go. I hope this inspires us to keep our writing tight. Yay for Writing Group next week!