Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Characters Need Goals

“Give them [your characters] a goal and throw obstacle after obstacle at them. If you don't care about your characters, your readers certainly won't, and will discard your story with a weary yawn! There is nothing worse than shallow, cardboard characters in a story. -- Alan To in Top Ten Tips for Writing Good Horror Fiction.
I commented in previous posts about the difficulties I’m having completing the current short story I’m working on. The main character has a goal, and I’ve placed obstacles in his way; but I wonder if my problem is that neither the goal nor the obstacles are strong enough to turn my original idea into a story. The plot line has changed since I started. The original characters took me in a direction I didn’t want to go, leading me to a predictable ending. I eliminated two of the characters to focus more on the MC, Jeff, and his best friend, Erica. I don’t know why I’m blocked on this story. Maybe I’m tapping into emotions I’m uncomfortable expressing. Maybe I don't understand Jeff's true feelings. Maybe I don’t care enough about the pair and what happens to them to be able to tell their story. I’m going to give it one more try this afternoon. If I still can’t finish the piece, I’ll set it aside, work on something else, and come back to it another time.

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