Over the year, I’ve collected plenty of tips of my own, especially about character development. I’ve got a folder full of worksheets with questions to ask my protagonist: What kind of ice cream does she like? What is she afraid of? Describe her closet and how she arranges it.
All of this is good — don’t get me wrong. The more you know, the better you’re off. But I promise that you can write a scene, a chapter, even an entire novel without knowing the color of your MC’s hair. Yes, it’s possible. You can do it without knowing who makes his/her favorite French fries or what their favorite movie is. But there is one critical thing you MUST know. Because you can’t write an entire novel, or a chapter, or even a scene, if you don’t know what your character wants. Think about it…everything we do during a day is toward a purpose or a goal–even if we’re just rolling over in bed for ten more minutes of sleep. What we want is what moves us to action.
No want. No action.
So here’s my tip. Start off your day of writing (every day), by asking two simple questions:
1. What is the ONE thing my character wants/needs most. (Overall goal for the book.)
2. What does my character need now, today, in this moment. (Goal for the scene.)
So how about it? Can you answer those questions? If you can, I’m guessing your story is not only moving, but it’s moving in the right direction.