On Writing: What do you want?

WritingI was so taken with a recent piece by Selena Anderson on the Glimmer Train site that I wanted to share it. I won’t reproduce the entire piece, but I recommend reading it.

We all know our characters need to want something, need to have something that drives them, but sometimes in writing, we get lost in details. The below paragraph shone true.

Along with developing characters that clearly want something, it’s important for us to understand what we want and what we’re willing to do to get it. Maybe that’s a key to writing what a character wants.

The characters in the fiction I like to read always want something. They want to find a white whale, they want to save the farm, they want to live, they want to be loved, they want to win in life. In certain stories and novels sometimes it’s hard to say what exactly a character wants, but in the ones that I love, I always have a strong sense that they do want something. It is not important to me why characters want certain things or whether or not they ultimately succeed in getting them. For me, it’s the wanting part that makes a character attractive. The wanting part makes the story timeless and universal because every one of us has wanted something. When we recognize this in another character it ignites something inside us that says, Yeah.

Selena Anderson in Glimmer Train


6 thoughts on “On Writing: What do you want?

    1. It does. In writing a memoir, I know what the “want” is. But sometimes I forget the reader doesn’t! So I’m gong back through, looking, wondering, working with “vertical” writing (going deeper rather faster…)

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