Desire – what he/she wants – drives your character. The thing your character wants most in the world is going to drive them. So you need to know what he/she wants and you need to make it clear throughout the short story, the novel or the trilogy.

What your character wants can change, but you need to show that, too.

Today, take a few minutes to observe people. Describe them on a notebook or piece of paper. Watch as they interact and then, determine what he/she wants most in the world.

How can you tell what that person wants? Is it from the way he leans towards a girl? Or maybe she only orders fries? Did he fall asleep during his lunch break?

The same way you can identify what people might want from the way they talk or how they act, your readers should know what your characters want without you telling them.

The advantage is that you can share your characters thoughts. But what they’re doing should complement what they’re thinking. Can they:

  • Develop nervous habits, like biting fingers
  • Lean toward the person he/she has a crush on?
  • Throw dishes when he leaves without kissing her goodbye?
  • Take an energy drink when his lunch break is cut short?

Making your characters’ desires complement their behaviors can make you a stronger writer. What have you noticed about how people act when they want something and don’t have it yet? When something they want is almost in reach, but not quite?

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  1. This is perfect, Robin! I’m thinking about what my characters want today, what stands in their way, and what they do when they can’t get what they want. How far will they go to win? Will they give up or sacrifice themselves or others? What they do will show their true character. And then, just when they go for their gold, their greatest fear will get in their way. I love making them suffer. I’m sick, I know. But it makes for a good story.

  2. Robin says:

    Suffering’s a part of life – and our characters need it to grow. (But we don’t… Right?)

Please share your random thoughts.


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