Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Ask O: What Does She Want? And More Deep Questions to Navigate Your Character’s Emotions Part 2
Welcome to Ask O Wednesday! I hope you’re writing week has been productive, inspired, and fun (can’t forget the fun!).
Last week we talked about knowing our characters’ basic desire. Start by asking, “What does she want?” and then give the most obvious answer. For an example, I used my work-in-progress about Misty, a mom of preschoolers. Misty’s basic desire is a simple one. To eat her cereal before it gets soggy. But her real desires require more than what floats on the surface …
A Little Bit Deeper Now
I know what Misty wants on a superficial level, and that’s good. I used to stop here and just write the scene, but then I discovered an even more enlightening question.
What does she really want?
Sometimes, I want to skip this. It seems instinctual, obvious. But oh the mysteries I’ve discovered by asking this question of my characters! Thrills of new plot twists have tickled my senses. Gut-thrashing tension sprang to light. Tears flowed from my eyes.
So, Misty, what do you really want? It’s not easy for Misty to answer. It takes a good measure of self-awareness on her part. (Don’t most great heroes possess that skill?) Finally, after scraping a Rice Crispy from her fingernail, Misty answers …
She yearns for the hours of time she spends training, praying for, and disciplining her kids to be evidenced by five minutes of uninterrupted peace. Can they live up to such a small expectation? Will they respect her—love her—enough to impart the gift of crisp crispies?
Do you see how this simple question opens a window into her heart as well as granting clues to her reactions, actions, goals, and decisions? Pretty cool, huh?
Asking, “What does she really want?” is my next step for every scene.
So far we have the questions: What does she want? And What does she really want? There’s one more even more mind-blowing question…but you’ll have to wait till next week to find out.
Don’t forget to leave your Ask O question in the comments or on my website: ocieanna.com.
Happy writing! (Have fun.)