I know, everytime hearing something like “simple” or “fast” a natural inclination to distrust leads us to think there must be some catch, right? Well, you’re not far from the truth there, there are no easy ways into doing complex things, this much we all know. However! 5 simple questions can actually help you start your journey into the character, same way as a premise can start a journey into a plot!
So let’s dive into these questions one at a time in order to build our characters! First one is…
What do they want?
Okay, so this question can be summarized in two aspects of a character’s motivation, this is because what they want is what brings them into action, and is composed of two distinctive traits.
- Desire, is a concrete goal the character wants to achieve.
- Need, is a change of personality, of the inner core of the character that needs to be accepted, fixed or changed entirely.
What are their weaknesses?
A weakness makes a character more interesting, it gives us an inside about his life, past and way of making choices. The weakness is the primordial obstacle the character has to face in order to complete the story.
A general rule of thumb is to make the weaknesses more interesting than the character’s strenghts.
Where are they going?
This is a tricky question, it has everything to do with the first one. Stablishing the character’s need and desire first gives you an idea of where the character is headed, so now it’s time to think about the endgame for this journey.
It’s not only to know where the story physicaly ends or wether or not the character is gonna achieve the goal. Ask yourself, how hard are they going to try to get what they want, how resilient are they against the obstacles in their paths.
What can your characters do to surprise you?
This is about creativity, is a question about finding ways to make your characters more resourseful in their ways of acting.
When a character surprises you, encourage him by following him instead of trying to lead them.
So there you have it, five really interesting questions to make you think about your character, to make you connect with them in a more personal way, but also to start thinking of them as more than people, but as narrative devices and as part of a story, of a design.
Okay, that’s it for today, next time we’ll dive into rising action to figure out why it’s so important for the story and as a valuable concept on writing!