Earlier this week, Christy had some great tips about taking our characters to the next level. Here’s a quote:
As writers, it’s our job to make our characters believable yet unforgettable.
I’d like to make something very clear here: Characters must also have a concrete motivation.
Oh, did you think I was addressing you, dear reader? No, I’d like to make this clear to the characters in my head. You know the type. They come begging you to tell their stories but on closer examination, the stories don’t hold up. Characters in my head, where are your motivations?
Freddie, I’m really sorry that a mystery person is leaving strange notes taped to your locker, but I can’t help you. I don’t know who is doing it or why. I have no idea what you should do about it. Why don’t you ask your friends, who I’d name (if I were writing your story, which I am NOT) Stella and Kim? They seem nice. You know, with such nice friends, I don’t see your life coming to a crisis any time soon, so maybe you should leave me alone.
And Regan? I don’t know why your sister is a liar. Really. No clue. So your tarot card readings come true and she takes credit for it. That’s your problem? Why does that even matter? Are you going to predict something earth shattering? If not, I don’t see how I can make a plot out of it. Maybe you should come back when you predict what your story is about.
Ruth, oh Ruth. I thought I’d hang with you for a while. You seemed interesting. But it was your setting I loved. 1899 Outerbanks of North Carolina in a hurricane is pretty interesting. I thought you’d have something to say. But all you came up with were tangents on whaling and Spanish treasure and then some wacky cousin from the mainland showed up … I don’t know where you’re going with this mishmash. What is it that you want?
Look, Characters in my Head, I appreciate you showing up and all, but I have enough problems trying to write stories for the characters withmotivations. So maybe you can come back around when you have something that you want and we can figure out what your story is then. Agreed?