Creating characters – Part 6

by juliusmsanz

First of all a big apology as yesterday I didn’t post as usual, but you know: life.

Anyways, let’s talk about characters:

Today I want to talk about goals, what the character wants to achieve. This is vital for your character and your story, because the character has to want something out of life and out of the story situation so to speak. This can be tied closely to the character’s purpose in the story, because as I told you many times over: everything has to move the story forward. So what can these goals be? They can be anything you like, as long as it brings everything together in the end. The character can have short-term goals in life and can have long-term goals in life. Let me give you an example: Vinny wants to open a restaurant within the next two months, and within the next ten years he wants to be able to retire owning a national restaurant franchise. (I doubt he’ll be able to do that, but whatever, you know what I’m talking about.)

What this does is simple: it tells us what the character wants.

But you can’t forget about other important things: why does the character want that?

This is called the character’s motivation.

There has to be a reason, and in this point you also explain clearly his motivation to achieve his goals. You don’t have to describe everything in one go, you can explain this as they go. Maybe he wants to be a great chef and desires to test himself as much as he can. Why? because maybe it’s part of a family tradition, or his broke, dead grandfather left something interesting in his will. Maybe to impress his parents. Who knows? The reasons why he wants to achieve a certain goal can be nearly endless.

Your imagination can go wild on these topics, and it should also prove to be very useful in this little area: what’s the conflict, the problem, that is keeping Vinny away from achieving his goals?

In here you are going to build the walls Vinny has to destroy. You have to keep on pushing the envelope and make the challenges harder and harder. If Vinny doesn’t struggle, if he doesn’t have any challenges, then how on earth can we root for the character? Conflict is the bulk of your story. Vinny needs to suffer unfortunately, if he doesn’t we aren’t going to have the opportunity to root for him. He also has to fail a lot.

And let me ask you another thing: how many questions do you ask your character?

I’ll be completely honest, in my first tries I barely asked over twenty, that can make a shallow character if you don’t know where you are going with him. Now I ask over one hundred questions to make sure that my characters are solid. If you don’t know your characters you won’t be able to write a whole lot about them, and that can make a poor story.

Don’t forget about this: great characters can save a mediocre story, so keep these things in mind and try to make your character as good as you can. Oh and don’t forget that your villain needs to be as good as your heroe, otherwise the story and characters will lack.

Ok this is it for today, tomorrow we’ll move on to part 7 to try to talk about some things I might have missed and promised to talk about in the first 5 posts. Yep, part 7 will most likely be the final part.

Have a nice day!