Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we discuss five ways to get your characters back on track.
Do you feel as if your story is stuck? Are your main characters feeling unmotivated? Sometimes, it feels as if they are deliberately stopping the action. After all, if they are like real people, your characters don’t like change.
But, we can’t let them linger in this limbo for too long. We need motivated characters to drive our stories. Here are some tips to help you out.
5 Ways To Get Your Characters Back On Track
1. Tempt your characters.
Offer them something they have always wanted. Perhaps, it reveals who they really are and what they are prepared to do to succeed. You can make this an impossible choice of sorts. If they go for the reward, they might lose something in the process. Exploit a character flaw. Whatever happens, you will get movement in the story.
2. Let them fail at something.
A good way to motivate your character is by forcing a failure. You can do this by using a sub-plot. Perhaps you could use the failure of a romantic relationship or not completing a project or abandoning a hobby. Failures force us to stop and reflect. If your character is nuanced it will spur change and set a different course or force them to accept their limitations.
3. Let them succeed.
Succeeding can produce two results. It can offer a boost in confidence and a desire to repeat the success. It can also show that success isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Decide on how your character will react to the success and work out a way forward after that.
4. Set a deadline.
A ticking clock is always a good way to get a story moving. Set a timer for a short term goal or move the date for a long term goal closer. Make sure the deadline matters. (You can also use The Locked Room method.)
5. Give them a choice.
Make them choose between two concrete things. Do not make it an abstract choice. It must be between two tangibles.
For example they could choose between:
- A spouse or a lover.
- A job or unemployment.
- A car or a college fund.
The fallout from the choice will change things.
I hope these five suggestions help you move your story forward. Even if you don’t end up using it in your story, you could find out things you never knew about your characters.
If you enjoyed this post, read: