Monday, August 16, 2010

Character wants

While revising my manuscript, I went back to check what my characters motives were.  The bad guy wants to rule the world, the good guy wants it back.

That just isn't enough.  Who doesn't want to rule the world and who doesn't want to keep what they have?  This want just doesn't cut it. 

It reminds me of the "why" stage of development.  If you have kids you know exactly what I'm referring to.

Why do I have to wash my hands?

Why do germs get on them?

Why do I sneeze?

Why do I have to use tissue?

This stage is both a blessing and curse because as mommies we have to know everything or at least act as if we know it.

It's the same with our characters. Pushing them to the limit of their emotional plateau. I began searching for the "why" of my MC's actions.  She wants to be normal. Whatever that means. She wants to avoid relationships.  She wants to answer the calling to the sea. But why?  What is it at the heart of her story?

To brainstorm this I actually had another character ask her what she wanted. She had to dig deep to figure it out just as I did.  That search is the heart of the story. Don't wait until your half done with your manuscript to figure it I just did.  The reader needs to know this.  Ask your MC off the bat what is it she wants and keep asking why until she's able to face it and answer truthfully.  Then she needs to accept or fight what it is she already knows. And the reader will follow.


  1. this is a great post. I think I've panned a bunch of stuff for exactly this reason.

  2. I dig outlines now that I've learned how to write one. Thanks for the comment marcy, glad i can help.


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