I was getting all confused the other day about my new work-in-progress (WIP). I didn’t know where I wanted it to go; I didn’t even know what the basic premise was. It was a maze with no way out. Until I realized —
Want drives stories. You can pull any number of premises out of the air and call them plots, but none of them will work unless they’re driven by desire. What do your characters want?
Say your MC wants BOY, but BOY wants OTHER GIRL. And OTHER GIRL wants OTHER BOY. And OTHER BOY wants MC. That is plot (enough plot to give anyone a headache, but whatever. still qualifies).
Want, when constructed well, twists up your story into one tension-packed I-can’t-put-this-down bestseller, especially when, say…
- Character A’s desires conflict with Character B’s
- Or Character A’s desires are the same as Character B’s (but only one of them can succeed)
- Or Character A’s desires conflict internally with his/her own other desires
Want is the spiderweb-like framework that connects characters in terrifying and heart-wrenching and ultimately satisfying ways. So when your story gets confusing and off-track, hike back to the basics. Your characters’ desires will show you where the story needs to go. As soon as I realized this, my new WIP became a lot clearer. Main Character wants this. Character A wants that. And abracadabra! there’s plot.