What does your character want?

Writerly Debz

It seems a simple enough question but you’d be surprised how many manuscripts I read where I don’t know the answer. Since most writers are focussed determined beings who know what they want, I wonder why they sometimes forget what motivates their key characters.

I have talked about this before, but for good reason — it’s important. Characters need more than it might seem ‘real’ people need to drive their actions. In real life where we see it only from the outside, we often get only glimpses of behaviour and ponder the reason that motivates it. In fiction we can get right inside a character, we are privy to the most private thoughts and fears — and as such we should be able to work out what drives the need. Why a character never sleeps, has scars on their wrist, can’t go near even the cutest dog, avoids a certain…

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