This week’s theme has been ‘character needs’. Today we assume your character has all their basic needs covered (they can eat, breathe and drink; they have a roof over their heads and they have some sense of belonging). And suddenly that’s no longer enough. More than merely belonging, your character has a burning need to be appreciated.
Write A Story In Which the Character is Striving For Recognition
- This need brings your character into the realm of “esteem” needs — they’re no longer fighting for survival but for quality of life.
- The challenge in this story is to make the reader empathize with a character who might, if handled carelessly, seem a little whiny. I mean, no-one’s dying so why are you whining?
- The good news it that this kind of need is easier to write about that the needs at the top level of Maslow’s Hierarchy, which tend to really make your character seem like a spoiled brat (“Oo, I’m trying to self-actualize and no-one’s helping me, wah!”). And yes, I’m being harsh here, but I think this is why so much literary short fiction is hard to swallow. A lot of it focuses on this last level of needs. So chill, we’re doing the stage that’s a level lower down and a little harder to screw up 🙂
- Think of characters like Ann in Ann of Green Gables or Jo from Little Women in this story: life isn’t terrible but she’s struggling to be what she knows she could be if she’s true to her talents and needs.
- A way into this story might be to give your character an opportunity to advance, even though it’s against her real desires. It seems like the safe option (take the promotion to manager instead of quitting and becoming a freelance writer!) What would your character do and how will that affect the reader?