Monday, January 14, 2013

What Is Your Character's Shire?

I've been reading several stories lately with struggling characters. And by struggling, I mean characters that are inconsistent and hard to believe.

If you are struggling to make your characters come across as real, believable, and engaging to readers, here is a little piece of advice that might help.

Establish what each character's motives are. What is the one thing that that character wants, and why? Once you figure that out, everything a character does should be to achieve that goal. Even if the choices they make aren't always the smartest, in the character's mind they should be to achieve that one, all important goal. This will keep your character consistent and believable.

Your main character's objective should be obvious to the reader in the first chapter.

Example: The Hunger Games
What one goal of Katniss's drives the story forward and is at the root of nearly everything she does? Her desire to protect her sister, Prim. She volunteers to go to the games in place of Prim, and she wants to win not just to survive, but so she can be there for Prim.

Example: The Forest of Hands and Teeth
What is it that Mary longs for? To see the ocean, and thus have a connection with her mother. This is what drives Mary out when the walls are breached and keeps her going. In my opinion, this comes across as a selfish motive, but at least it is consistent. And let's face it, teens often have selfish motives.

Example: The Lord of the Rings
What objective does Frodo have in his heart that keeps him going on his impossible quest? The Shire. He wants to get back home to the Shire, and he wants the Shire to be safe and uncorrupted by Sauron.

You have to find your character's Shire.

Come back next Monday for the first of many contests leading up to the release of A Blind Eye in February!


  1. Love this! It's so true, no motivation = a meaningless story. Off to re-analyze my own stuff :)

  2. I have that problem when it comes to my supporting characters. I get to the point where I am looking at the screen asking myself why I even but them into my story so I just have some monster eat them and I feel better. haha I started a new blog writing about me and my families hunting and fishing adventures and it is much easier to write about these characters because I didn't have to create them. haha Congrats again on your upcoming book.

    1. Thank you for the kind words on the blog. The Guardians was a lot of fun to write. I wanted to make the situation seem so outrageous and tough and challenge my squishy gray matter to come up with a way to win. Well, you seen how I ended it haha, weapons of mass destruction are kind of like an eraser for my stories. The character gets in to deep so I erase him and start over haha. The other blog is the complete oppisite. A lady told me the other day that she shot soda from her nose she was laughing so hard. I said, Eww and then thank you for the positive feedback haha.

  3. love the LOTR example, especially since I just watched the Hobbit this weekend.

  4. This has me thinking about what my shire is, and how I show my "readers" that it's important to me.

    Nice url :)

  5. It seems so simple to say, but you're right. In my own writing, when my character feels lost, it's because I've lost connection with her/his motivation.

  6. Great advise, Julie. I'm going to see how this fits into my WIP. I anticipate good things!