Keep Your Characters Moving

Photo credit: Dr. Mark Kubert on Flickr
One of the very first elements I work out when brainstorming a new WIP is what my protagonist’s goal is. This, to me, is one of the most important elements to work out early in the process, because it’s largely what drives the story forward. 

What your protagonist wants, of course, will largely depend on the genre. In a YA Contemporary, your protagonist may want to find love or fit in with his/her peers, in a Sci-Fi they may want to survive a dangerous environment or save humanity from something devastating. Whatever it is, figuring it out early on, then keeping it in mind while you write is essential to keep a story developing. 

Why is it so important? Well, let’s think about it. 

Without some sort of goal, your protagonist has no reason to do…well…anything. If Harry lived a perfectly happy life with the Dursleys, he probably wouldn’t have been so desperate to go to Hogwarts. If Katniss didn’t care enough about her sister to take her place in the games, she never would’ve volunteered and started a revolution. If Tris had fit in with Abnegation, she never would’ve joined Dauntless and uncovered the truth about Divergence. 

Without a goal, there isn’t a story. 

This is something that’s really important to remember while you’re writing. I find that oftentimes, when a story starts to lag or the pacing grinds to a halt, it’s because the protagonist has lost sight of their goal. After all, if they’re no longer aiming to accomplish something, how is the story supposed to continue? 

The answer? It won’t. 

What tips do you have for keeping your characters moving?

Twitter-sized bites: 
"Without a goal, there isn't a story." #writingtip (Click to tweet)  
Do you know your characters' goals? Here's why writer @Ava_Jae says it's so essential. (Click to tweet)


Catherine Stine said...

Yes, you are so right. And the characters must take active steps, not just stand around in dialog.

Ava Jae said...

Very true! There should always be something going on.

Suzanne said...

I am writing my 2nd book, and early on, this concept was forefront in my thoughts, but now, months later, I appreciate the reminder to show my characters reaching, falling short or over shooting their goals in each chapter. Thanks, Ava!

Ava Jae said...

You're very welcome, Suzanne! Some details can be easy to forget when you're in the midst of drafting, so I'm happy this helped! Happy writing! :)

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...