With tough-love characters, it’s difficult for those at the receiving end of their treatment to see that their way of doing things might stem from affection. Here are some tips on how to show their more caring side:
We’re not all the type to openly show affection, but you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody incapable of showing any at all.
For some characters, it’s much more discreet. They may only give into their more affectionate side when they believe they’re alone or away from those who might judge them for their softer qualities.
Things like stroking a child’s hair once - and only when - its asleep, singing to a baby if they think they’re the only ones who can hear, petting or spoiling animals/pets in secret, or being unable to leave someone in need, no matter how much of a struggle it is for them to swallow their pride and show that glimmer of emotion that they perceive as weakness.
Taking the Fall
Some characters struggle under difficult circumstances for specific reasons and, as such, are unable to allow the main character to see anything but their cruelest side.
Or maybe they’re just unable to hide years of pain and hardship, and take it all out on the wrong people.
One thing is for sure though: your character can commit at least one totally unselfish act, proving that their heart was in the right place after all.
When you’ve been through a difficult situation, it can be hard to watch somebody else go through exactly the same thing. If they’re in a position to control it, your character might try to actively bend the fate of those they care about, to prevent them from making similar mistakes.
Of course, it all comes out one way or another, and we see all along that they were merely trying to help and weren’t controlling for the fun of it.
Your character holds a lot of responsibility and they may have had to learn the hard way that leadership is not always sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes you have to say no every once in a while and crack down on the discipline, or everything falls apart.
It doesn’t mean they’re always strict, however. Maybe on a rare occasion, your character loosens up and either explains (verbally, or through a gesture/flashback) their tough-love approach, or shows a side in secret to just one or two others, that they usually keep well under wraps.
For the record, it’s perfectly okay for your main character to misjudge another’s character only to later amend their view. It’s good character development for everything to unravel. If everything is clear from the beginning, then there’s not much for us to learn, so don’t be afraid to show your leader’s harsher side and share all of the good at a later date.
I hope this helps, Anon.