What characters want, and avoid

Table of Contents

Building characters demands that we know their desires and their fears. A protagonist can only act on something if they have a strong desire for it. When they fear something, it helps prevent the protagonist from achieving their goals.

Big-vessel ideas make the best desires and fears. Things a hero might want could be

Dignity
Endurance
Faith
Grace
Honor
Mercy
Peace
Redemption
Trust

The fears that represent a life that our hero does not want could be

Betrayal
Cruelty
Deceit
Despair
Distain
Dogma
Exclusion
Prejudice
Submission

Everyone seeks love and hates loss. Those vessels aren’t specific enough. In order to serve a character’s wants and needs, you adopt them with specifics.

And sadness? It is necessary to deliver meaning to life. Riding sadness to a more peaceful place is a good arc for a character to grow and learn something. Transformations like that satisfy us.

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