This article was originally published in The Writer’s Everything, Issue #008.
The Purpose Of Writing Concepts
Every week, published in my writing magazine, The Writer’s Everything, Writing Concepts will discuss a major piece of knowledge that authors would do well to be aware of.
This week, the topic of Writing Concepts is “Character Wants.”
A character arc, something that we all want to include if we intend for our stories to have deep, significant consequences on our main characters, and meaning for our readers, is essentially a transition from what a character wants to what a character needs.
Character wants are the starting point for any character arc, with the exception of flat arcs, in which the character and his wants remains the same over the course of the story.
Generally, the things the character wants are either selfish and self-centered in nature, or in some other way not compatible with their achieving a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.
This is especially true with the positive character arc, where the character transitions into a better version of themselves by the end of the story. In Shrek, the titular protagonist starts out with the desire to be left alone in his swamp. That’s his self-centered need that he has to learn to look past in order to imbue his life with meaning.
In negative character arcs, we often find the opposite character progression demonstrated. The character starts as the best, or at least a better, version of themselves, and over the course of the story, they are influenced by events and the characters they interact with to develop negative qualities. In 1984, Winston Smith begins the story with wants that include freedom from the oppressive regime in power, but by the end of the story, he’s been brainwashed into loving the ruling class.
The Writer’s Everything
This article, as well as many others, have been featured in previous issues of my writing journal, The Writer’s Everything, in which I, along with occasional guest contributors, provide essays, guides, encouragement, motivation, writing prompts, character bio development kits, and anything else that can help you turn your dream of becoming a writer into a reality.
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