Narrative Writing

 

Objective

A focal character who has nothing he wants to attain or retain can’t be endangered, and so has no place in any story. Whether he succeeds or fails is immaterial. He still must strive.

               — Dwight V. Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer


What does your main character want?

When I ask students this question, I often get a mushy answer:

No! I don't want to know what happens to her. I want to know what she wants!

After several more tries, the student finally realizes that she needs to rephrase the answer:

Okay, now we're getting somewhere.

Study the following examples.

Bernard Stanley is a shy baker. His wife died five years ago, and now he is terribly lonely. He wants to ask one of his regular customers out on a date.

Sonja Simmons is an adventurous college student. While hiking in the wilderness, she discovers a mountain cave. She wants to explore the cave.

Mario Lynch is a grumpy detective. One day, a client hires him to investigate a gruesome murder. He wants to solve the case.


Now it's your turn. What does your protagonist want?

Lesson Steps

  1. Open your writing portfolio.
    • Level 16
      • The Six Story Elements
  2. Complete row 3 of the table. What exactly does your protagonist want?

Your table should now look something like this:

The Six Story Elements
Complete the six story elements
1 Character Bernard Stanley is a shy baker.
2 Situation His wife died five years ago, and now he is unbearably lonely.
3 Objective He wants to ask one of his regular customers out on a date. Her name is Felicia.
4 Opponent  
5 Disaster  
6 Story Question  

 

  1. When you are finished, return to this page and take the quiz.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.

Quiz