What Does Your Character Want?

What Does Your Character Want?


✍🏼 Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept it ...

One of the major questions that drives any plot is "What is your character willing to do in order to get what they want?"

Every character in your story has the potential to make a big decision that twists or turns the plot for their own benefit. If you're just starting out with a story concept, you'll probably want to explore your main character in this exercise. If you're further along in the process, you can also do this exercise with a secondary character or the antagonist.

Try this:


  1. Write down in a sentence or two what your character wants.
  2. Ask them: "Why?"
  3. Write down their answer. The first answer might be: "Because it will be cool." Ask again: "Why will it be cool?" Then, keep asking why until you have tapped into the good stuff.

If you get stumped, another question you can ask is: "What will it look like?" Sometimes picturing what a vague desire might specifically look like when it comes to be will help you better understand what your character truly wants. "More friends," might look like a slumber party with five girls who can all finish one another's sentences. Once you know what success looks like, you can ask "Why" again. "Why is that slumber party important to you?"


  1. Make a list of things your character would be willing to do to make that desire happen.
  2. Poke at the things that you're not sure you'd do, like risking physical pain, keeping a secret from someone important, or breaking certain rules.
  3. When you realize you've found something your character would NOT do, put that on a separate list.

Once you have a strong list of things they'd do and maybe one or two things they wouldn't, choose one of your ideas and draft a quick scene.