Writing Your Character’s Quest

We’re at the beginning of a new term, a new crop of novel writing students and a return to the bones of what makes a good story. Whether you write memoir or fiction, your character must embark on a worthy quest.
Writing Tip for Today: What are some of the essential ingredients for a good story?

  • A Worthy Character. In memoir this person is you, but as with any story, the character must be compelling. This means that the character needs to be not only driven, but also  possess characteristics that attract readers: Forgiveness, honesty and generosity are a few that come to mind. There are many more, but most of all your character must be an interesting person in trouble.
  • Feet to Flame. That’s Trouble with a capital T. In real life we sometimes get breaks or help from others. In fiction and memoir, readers want to see the character solving his/her own problems, and they like to see a character struggle to win. Don’t make things too easy for your character. Keep him in that crucible, with feet to the flame.
  • Go for the Emotional Gut. A quest is much more than character, but if you begin with a character who tugs at a reader’s emotional center, the reader is much more likely to invest in that character. Even in a thriller movie, they often throw in a little kid who is in danger–to up the emotional ante. We might be able to ignore adults being harmed, but our kids or our pets? Not so much. Tie in something that readers will not be able to emotionally ignore.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Writing Your Character’s Quest

    • Danielle,
      Thanks! One of the challenges we all face is to create a strong character who isn’t too much like ourselves. Write on! I hope you’ll stop by often. ~Linda

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