Boors, boobs, and b******s. Writing the Obnoxious.

How do you deal with difficult people? People who are just plain rude, or who see the world as they want to see it, not as it is? People who say one ugly thing after another, pretending it's funny and you should laugh with them?  People who just don't care and aren't about to go to any lengths at all to be part of the human race?

In my real life, I run as far and as fast as I can from people like this, if I can. I don't want to waste a second of my life falling into their tar pits, just on the off chance I'll never be able to pull myself back out. Sometimes, though, you're stuck. An insensitive, boorish boss. A jerk of a sales clerk who keeps mucking up your sale, and acts as if you've committed a crime when you point out they rang the items up incorrectly. A driver who goes out of the way to stay on your bumper with his high beams on.

The hard part is to write these people so they're real. They turn into caricatures so easily, but like pepper in a dish, a story needs them to add the reality factor. Pepper keeps it real. Everyone expects salt. I read a small, throwaway scene in a YA recently, where a hospital docent is not only unsympathetic to the hero's plight, but rude as well. The character never reappears, but she added to the scene's intensity like a good dose of pepper should. Her obnoxiousness was spot-on and ratcheted up the hero's anxiety to the next level. Good characters do that.

Next time you're outlining your characters, add a boor. Someone your hero doesn't want to encounter, but must. See how they interact, and above all, keep it real. Don't let the passive-aggressive character become a cartoon. I think you'll be pleased with how it helps add to the tension in your story.