One of my goals when I write is to take my characters on a journey, through which they emerge as better people in some way. To do this, they need to gain understanding, wisdom or otherwise grow in one or more areas and overcome a character defect. The character defect part is easy; fortunately I have enough to lend to my characters. Holly, for example, in Grief Inc., is an introvert who has let her some perfectionist-driven fears allow her to withdraw from participating as fully as possible in her life. Yeah, got that one. The real trick is making Holly still likable enough for the reader to care if and how she does this. It’s easy to write one-dimensional villains who are so evil we hate them and know we will be rooting for their demise. It’s harder to write a protagonist who we know we’ll be rooting for and who has some character issues that are not self-apparent. There are some authors who do this so well – Amy Hatvany is one of my favorites, as well as Jennifer Weiner and Jody Piccoult. Reading their work inspires me to keep adding layers onto my characters because it makes them so much more interesting, even if it is more frustrating as a writer. Sometimes even just the turn of one phrase, or the lifting of an eyebrow at the right moment can turn a character from a complete jerk to a somewhat likable jerk. And after all, isn’t that a bit more true to life? A journey from being a somewhat to mostly likeable jerk?