Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What Does the Character Really Want?

Characters in a story have to want something. They have to really want it. And they should be thwarted in getting it right away. That lays down the conflict for the story (it sounds so simple when put like that.)

But what does that character want? It's not simply a matter of they want to solve the mystery or find a new love. There has to be a desire for something more. Something they strive for.

Which got me to thinking - what do I strive for? What do I want? I want to be a published author. Woo-hoo as of August 19 I'll be able to say that I am. I want more than one book published, so I'm still working on that part of the desire. Other than that I'm fairly content. It's easier sometimes to think of things I don't want.

1) I don't want a tattoo. This isn't a matter of not liking needles (which I don't) or having any philosophical objection to tattoos (which I don't). I just don't want one. I don't need to debate with myself over whether I should get one or not. The desire is simply not there.

2) I don't want to jump out of an airplane. Even with a parachute. There's no little part of me that says 'if I only wasn't afraid' or 'if I had the money' I'd do this. Nope. It simply does not appeal to me.

3) I don't want to be an astronaut. I do not think it would be cool to be in a spaceship out in the middle of space. Cool views - yes. Send the pictures, I'm satisfied.

4) I don't want to go on a rollercoaster that goes upside down. This is largely because that would make me dizzy and nauseous - in which case, no one else would want me on that roller coaster either.

What do I want? What things would I do if money and time were not an object?

1) I want to go to Ireland. It's the only country where I have ancestors from that I haven't been to yet. (I should probably get to Boston too - I had ancestors from there too and it's a lot closer)

2) I'd love to take a world cruise and see exotic places. (This one requires much time and money)

3) I want to see the Grand Canyon. Not sure about riding a mule down to the bottom, but I'd love to see the Canyon.

4) I want to have a book of mine be on the bestseller list sometime.

Maybe I wouldn't make the most exciting main character in a book - but it's good to think about these things now and then.

What things do you want? What things do you totally not want? And don't go calling me a wimp because I don't want a tattoo or to jump out of an airplane, I already know I'm a wimp.


  1. 1) Does this mean we can't have friendship tattoos?

    2) I'm with you on this one. Someone would have to push me.

    3) From middle school on I wanted to be an astronaut.

    4) Again. With you. I'd go if my kid needed me to.


    1) We can kiss the blarney stone together. And drink an Irish pint.

    2) Mediterranean cruise is my top choice of places for this one.

    3) Yep. Want to see it. The mule scares the heck out of me.

    4) Ditto. Ditto. Ditto.

    As for what my characters want, I rely on you to help me with this one.

  2. Tricia, Sorry about the friendship tattoos - but, sadly, no.
    I don't know why being an astronaut has no appeal. I think it has to do with confined spaces for extended periods of time.
    And I can always rely on you for help with my characters too. Thanks!

  3. Christine: My family hail from Ireland too. O'Donnell's they call us!

    So Ireland is numero uno.

    I never wanted to jump out of a plane, but pilot one, YEAH! My uncle was a pilot. They won't take me, because of my type 1 diabetes.

    When I was a kid I wanted to be an oceanographer. Dang math!

    Ew,ew,ew!!!! My book on the best seller list. Me three!!!! Hey PJ,isn't yours already on that?

    You're not a wimp! You write, how could you be a wimp? IMPOSSIBLE! :)

  4. Robyn someday we'll have a grand trip to Ireland. And then we can all write about it.

    My husband would like to fly planes. In fact one year I got him a gift certificate for a flying lesson. He loved it. Finances and time aren't really letting him pursue this any further though.

    And thanks for saying I'm not a wimp. :)