I’ve been wading through pools of literary blood as I embark upon revisions for my next, untitled book. It’s been a bit of a challenge for me because my cast of characters is larger and more diverse than anything I’ve written. First of all, it’s going to be in 3rd person, which means I’m not telling the story from just one perspective. That, in and of itself, is a challenge. But it’s character motivations that are really troubling me this time around.
See, in Deathday, everything was pretty clear. When I wrote the Ollie/Ronnie romance, I had this feeling that if Ollie hadn’t gotten his letter, eventually he and Ronnie would have reconciled and worked out. So their journey toward the end, while sped up a bit due to Ollie’s demise, was fairly easy to script. Plus, I only had to primarily deal with the whole thing from Ollie’s point of view.
Not so in this untitled book. I find myself frequently asking: what does this character want? I’m fairly clear on most of the characters, however there’s one to which the answer has repeatedly been: I don’t know.
And that’s a problem.
Everyone has an agenda. I know that sounds crass but it’s true. Even if that agenda is to get completely trashed and act like a wanky jackhole, it’s still something. Of course, if you dig deep enough, you’ll likely find a deeper motivation behind someone who goes to a party to make a complete fool of themselves.
I should know; I’ve been the fool.
So when you sit down to write a scene, ask yourself what the characters in that scene want. Are they trying to impress someone, make them jealous, make them smile, feel guilty? Knowing the answers to those questions can help sort out your scenes and character motivations.