Straight from the magic of www.dictionary.com, the definition of a paradox is: “any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.”
Authors generally intend for their character’s dialogue, mannerisms, etc. to remain consistent. A good writer, however, often works in a few quirks. These come in the form of a paradox, a nifty trick of the trade to spice up an otherwise dull character.
Literature, as well as life, is full of individuals with a contradictory nature. In BATTLEFIELD EARTH, the book I finished yesterday, the hero (Johnny) is basically a caveman who questions things. Later, we meet a bad guy alien thief (Ker) who has a sense of humor. The book’s true villain, Terl, is a security chief who lies and cheats. Little, unassuming gray men that drink yarb tea turn out to be the universe’s most dangerous enemy.
Every good book makes use of paradoxical elements in its characters. I’m making a note to do the same. Can you think of an example of a character paradox in something you recently read?