Fluffing up a Boring Secondary Character:
How many times have we read through a story and found one or two secondary characters that just seem flat? There's something missing there. Well, friends, there's a simple technique that's guaranteed to instantly fluff up a secondary character. Here's the basic formula:
Interesting perspective = Interesting character.
Okay, so what's that mean? Perspective boils down to a specific like or dislike and why. And the most interesting perspective is one that opposes our hero or society in general.
Let's say our hero loves puppies. She works at a dog shelter and her life is about helping puppies. Now imagine in your story that a friend of her love interest needs a character fluff. Simply add an opposite perspective: he hates puppies. But that's not enough. He needs an elaborate reason why he hates puppies: they're messy, they're needy, they poo all over the place... This instantly adds character dimension to his character and it can be done in one scene. It adds insight to his character (why does he hate puppies) and conflict with the hero. And it's wicked easy. Try it.
Now this technique generally works best when you need to spruce up a secondary character and the key is aligning this perspective against the hero and/or society in general. By that I mean heroes usually represent the good in a society or culture and this character would oppose this. However, there are heroes who oppose what society feels and this secondary character would suddenly become more important--representing a culture's beliefs. The point is to choose a perspective in opposition to the hero because he or she will have most of the screen or page time in the story.
The technique also works, to a lesser degree, to help dimensionalize a main character. Usually this takes the form of exhibiting an interesting perspective on something not directly in the story. We may find out that our wonderful hero hates puppies. The reasons why can add layers to an already interesting character. Be careful, though; this kind of thing can backfire on you. If you expose one of these dimensionalizing characteristics too early in a story, you could alienate the audience.
The key to this technique is to define an opposite perspective to what our hero or society believes and then coming up with reasons why this could be. It's the recipe to an instant and easy character fluff.