Telling a story in parts that lay out what happens next will only get you so far. What grabs a reader is ‘why’ things happen.
Your character has to have a hole in the gut – a deep yearning for something that creates a purpose. The stronger the purpose, the stronger the drive or desire that moves the plot; desire provides the ‘why’.
Characters derive purpose when they want something; the more they want it, the harder they will try to get it and the more invested a reader will be in their success.
Here are 5 ways you might give your character a strong purpose:
Get Something Back
Imagine the one present you wanted as a child more than any other. Imagine holding it in your hands for a few seconds before it’s taken away.
Take something away from your character that means a great deal. Make that character have to get it back. The desire to recover a loss includes a loved one.
Think of a time when someone said you weren’t smart enough, strong enough, or good enough to do something. Feel the shame, the embarrassment and especially the anger.
Challenge your character to take on a task greater than their perceived abilities. The desire to win at all cost can be a powerful storyline.
Escape from Something
The greatest desire we have as humans is to survive. Think of a time when your survival was threatened because of actions you were involved in either voluntary or involuntary.
Send your character to war, or have them commit a crime either on purpose (for survival) or innocently and make them run. Or, force your character to save someone else in a dangerous environment. The desire to overcome fear creates suspense as the character battles doubt internally as well as actual physical dangers.
Make Something Happen
Think of a time when you thought boredom was going to kill you. Ask any teenager who could be very busy but not doing the things they want to do.
Give your character the desire to break out, get out, do something rash, radical and more than anything the one thing that will get your character out of the status quo. The desire to change what is wrong with the NOW can be overwhelming, especially in the young.
Stop Something from Happening
No matter how complacent you may think you are something must have happened to you at some moment in your life that you were not willing to stand for. Think of an event you would have done anything to stop from happening.
You character may have not wanted to go to war, not wanted get married, or on a much bigger scale, may have a way to stop the world from blowing up or from being attacked by an alien force.
Give your character purpose and often a story writes itself.
The next big question is what drives you, the writer? If you have a strong purpose to write your first draft you will complete it.
Renew your desire to finish it every day. Keep writing.
Remember if you are in the Atlanta area this Saturday I am hosting a Workshop Event that helps writers finish a first draft using Storyboarding with Scenes.
Here’s the information if you’re in town or know someone who might be interested. It’s a full day of information that you can put to use immediately. (And it’s all you need in one day).
Go here for info: www.60scenes.com/OneDayWorkshop.php
Again, good writing and don’t stop! Have purpose.