Sunday, January 29, 2017

What's Your Problem?

So, you're writing a story or a novel, and you can't figure out why it's not working.

The first question I'm going to ask you is this: Does your character have a problem?

If not, then you have a problem.

And you need to figure out the problem your character needs to solve.

Each character has one.

You can call the problem whatever you want to call it—a challenge, a struggle, a question—but no matter what you call the problem, it’s what your story is built around.

Some might suggest asking: what does your character want?

Others might suggest this: place your character between a rock and a hard place.

Which is just another way of saying that your story is a map, of sorts, of the choices that your character needs to make in order to solve the problem.

He or she doesn’t just act randomly for the sake of acting.

Each action is based on choices that come from the quality of the character.

Is he a good guy? Is she a bad girl? Selfish or compassionate? Generous or miserly? Full of hope or despair?

You can imagine how someone who is selfish might choose to act in a different way than someone who has a generous heart.

When you place your character in a situation related to the problem, you’ll begin to understand how your character might act to solve the problem.

And over time, as you progress with the story, you’ll see how each choice helps shape your story and bring your character into sharper focus, as well as closer to the resolution of the problem.

For more information on figuring out your character's problem, you might find these links helpful:

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