We are looking to find our character's goals, desires, and motivations that will propel the story forward and help it find meaning. We are looking for the internal forces drive them, and we have to figure out what they are. Sometimes these can be invisible too. Often, as people, we may think we want something, but later realize we actually were seeking something else. Your character might be avoiding their goals, not realize what their ultimate goals are, or think their goals are something else entirely.
This is a difficult submersion into the subconscious. You have to get to the root of it all. This is diving into the subtext , the themes, the core of what your story is about. To figure this out, determine their conscious goal, and then constantly and consistently ask why until the true answer reveals itself.
This should pull out backstory, history, internal beliefs, future hopes and dreams, and much much more. This will give your character depth and make them more well-rounded. It ultimately makes them feel much more believable and human. It can be rewarding in life, and in fiction, to have that epiphany moment, the crisis, the climax, the turning point.
When you think everything exists in one certain light, and then to discover it as existing totally differently gives us satisfaction. It helps us grow and change and find meaning. This epiphany moment is your plot. And see how it's directly tied to your character's desires?
See what we did there?
What were their ultimate goals? What steps did they take to move toward those goals? How did the external events conflict with the internal events? You could write this story, and many people have. Consider all possible conflicts both externally and internally. What would it mean for the story if the character succeeded or failed in reaching their desires?
Here we are searching for the highest impact. What ultimately happens will determine that. Ask: What does the character gain from reaching their goals? What does the character lose by reaching their goals?
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On the opposite side, what does the character lose from not reaching their goals? What does the character gain by not reaching their goals? In our love example, if our protagonist wants to find true love, what does he gain by finding it? Eternal happiness and confirmation of the belief that true love exists. What does he lose by finding it?
Freedom of independent living. What does he lose by NOT finding true love? Perhaps a disruption of the long-held belief that true love exists. What does he gain by NOT finding true love? To me, the story that is arising from these considerations is what he loses by not finding it. That is much more interesting than if he finds it and gets it and lives happily ever after.
MASTER YOUR NOVEL'S PLOT
That is where the story lives. If you do, it will most likely take the joy of discovery out of the writing for you. Give your characters some room to breathe, to speak, to grow and change on their own times. Let them live in your story. This will keep you surprised and motivated to keep going, which in turn will happen to your reader too. Consider how your character evolves over the course of the story—How did they get from here to there?
Consider how the external events force the character to confront internal conflicts. Pay attention to causality, and how an event must cause the character to react in a certain way. I told you we'd get to it just a minute, now we're here—woohoo! Do it for your own story so you know roughly where you're going. Please remember though, this is supposed to be rough. This is supposed to be an outline. This is a starting point, your headlights per se. Let your character's desires be the driver. I'm working on expanding it into a premium-level workbook that dives even deeper.
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Get your copy now by clicking the button below while it's free! The biggest thing that you want to retain when writing is your character's desires. You're throwing conflict in their way to prohibit them from reaching them, but their wants and needs are what's truly keeping the story going.
Writer's Block happens because plot stops.
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And plot stops because desires stop. When faced with writer's block, go back to your character's desires. Infuse character with your plot for a strong, amazing story. What do you find most difficult about creating a character-driven plot, or plots in general? Why do you think we avoid thinking about plot? What are your favorite character-driven plots?
Who does a good job at writing like this? Cart 0.
Home for writers Blog Contact. Plot is tension, plot is drama, plot IS story. The time sequence is preserved, but the sense of causality overshadows it.
Consider the death of the queen. So, uh, how do we do that? Then write a brief summary Write this summary as if you were writing to a friend, of what happens. But this is obviously not true. I put characters under stress until something rises to the surface. This turns her story into a daisy-chain of personal dilemmas - and dilemmas really hook our attention.
Make the character want something - badly enough to step outside their comfort zone and go on an adventure. Make them motivated - they must keep looking for it or trying to achieve it, even when the situation goes from bad to worse. Where will these desires and motivations come from? From their distinct natures, urges, fears and ambitions. I refer you to the gallery of individuals in paragraph 1. While their supporting characters are realistic and relatable, their central characters are saintly paragons, who everyone likes. They never do even one bad thing. This usually makes the reader loathe them.
Actually, readers have a high tolerance for imperfection. Plus, of course, his intriguing psychology. But what do you do if your protagonist is outright nice? I recommend writers take them out of their comfort zone. What worked for Tom Ripley will also humanise your goody two-shoes. Put them in a situation they are not at ease or in control - I call it the discomfort zone. Show them getting irritable or worried. Everybody does, and it can show who they really are.
When writers are showing us what matters to a protagonist, they often leave out a crucial step. So the writer shows troublesome and frustrating events - perhaps the character fights with his best friend or the car breaks down. But they forget to show us how the character feels about them. The character does not seem to react at all. Usually when I talk to the writer, they confirm that they want the character to be wound to snapping point. But they assumed the reader would fill that in.