It would be so easy to let a character stay in bed all day, wouldn’t it? She could lounge on fluffy pillows, eat Red Vines while watching Sports Center and daytime TV and do absolutely nothing! Hmm. Yeeeeaaah, that would be a boring story. This week we’ll dive into how we can get our central character out of bed. What motivates a character? Let’s take a look at two important pieces in motivating a character, goals and needs.
One sure fire way to kick that character out of the sheets – set goals for your character – I find that this generates questions that will require answers. What are the stakes involved in going after this goal? What can she lose/gain from achieving this goal? How will the character achieve this goal? Are the risks to achieving the goal life threatening to the character or someone the character cares about? As you begin writing down the goals you’ll begin to fill the character fuel tank.
It’s your job to figure out what your character needs. Your characters needs could be emotional, physical, economical, etc. Beware that sometimes the characters goals will clash with their needs and other times the goal will support the need. What does the character need and why? How does her need block her from achieving her goal?
There is always something deeper going on with our characters, we just need to dig to discover what they truly need. When you ask yourself what does my character need you’re going to think that the first thing that pops into your mind is correct, but is it really? Characters sometimes withhold what they really need when you’re developing them, which is fine until they wake you up at 2:42AM shouting at you. Ugh. Characters are so demanding.
If you’re struggling with motivating your character, take a step back and revaluate the goals and needs. You might discover that it’s exactly what finally kicks that character out of bed.