Lesson 4



This next question is more like a series of questions, and you’re going to ask them in four different varieties. So let’s talk about the characters within the scene, because characters are extremely important. The first question you want to ask about your characters specifically is what does the main character want? Who is your protagonist, and what does he or she want? And the best way to think about this is to think about one’s external pursuits. We’re going to talk about the difference between wants and needs. And non-writers might think that’s just a matter of semantics—it’s word choice, but it’s not. There’s a very distinct difference between what we want and what we need. And you as the author need to understand this so that the motivation of your characters ring true and they seem authentic on the page. The question is, what does the main character want as far as an external pursuit? Think about it in terms of being something that is obvious, something that is concrete.

A good example would be something that they desire physically. If a character is trying to get to a location, trying to find an item, trying to escape a situation, those would all be character wants, because they typically look at the external pursuits. Now from the character’s perspective, what they want might be what they think they need. Now we’re getting into the nuance of wants versus needs. In the character’s eyes, what they want is what they need. But as we know, what you want isn’t always what you need, and you can’t always get what you want. So that’s the first series of those questions. What does the main character want? And that needs to be thought about through this lens of an externality, something that is obvious, something that is concrete.