mainly the term photography is associated with painting with light. If managed to get how to make use of ambient light and camera's flash would let you to get improved photo. If you are doing everything correct but you are not having correct light then you will not get the best photograph.
You should diffuse the light source as much as possible
It is basic principle to get the best photo. You can have shoot into an overcast situation. you can also wait till sun goes behind of the cloud. I think you are aware of that you will be able to get the better result when you are supposed to bounce the camera flash or you can make use of adapter which would diffuse the light. If you are able to get broader light source which would create software and attractive light on the subject of yours.
If you use a arrow light beam which is coming from the flash or Sun then it would create sharp shadows and high contrast. If you had diffused the light over big area then you will be able to soften the light as well as reduce the contrast. It would give you more pleasing experience on your light. Now you are concluded that diffusing or broadening the narrow light source would de-harshen the photography of yours, also after using them subject would become more attractive.
Keep the light source away to get less effect on the subject.
There are couple of things are associated which I would like to discuss over here.
As per the Laws of Physics, ‘brightness diminishes as the square of the distance.’ For eg if your light 5 feet away from the subject then you have to move your subject to 10feet. Your subject would get the quarter of the light from where it was started. With respect to Photography terms it has been known as two-stop change in exposure.
Another thing is that moving light wont make any effect on the back ground. The above mentioned thing is only applicable when the background sufficient enough away from your subject. If you are supposed to taking the photograph at the outdoor location. You will be able to move your light quite closer to make changes in the relative exposure on the subject of yours. Background supposed to expose in the same manner until and unless you have kept the camera settings.