1. aguywhotypes

    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    I need examples of what a protagonist wants...

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by aguywhotypes, Jun 9, 2019.

    This is embarrassing, I'm draggy and tired this afternoon and that isn't helping.
    All I can think up are boring blah things.

    money/to be rich
    wants to buy xyz
    wants a girl/boyfriend or husband/wife etc
    wants a job
    wants a promotion at said job

    ???
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I don't feel tardy.... Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Like Vonnegut said, a drink of water can be a powerful motivator if the character is thirsty. People will do all sorts of things for a drink of water. Sometimes it's the simple things...
     
  3. LastMindToSanity

    LastMindToSanity Contributor Contributor

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    Instead of the being rich/job parts, try something like 'wants a higher social status.' Then your character can do all kinds of fun, shady things to get that, ranging from trickery to straight-up murder.

    Instead of a girl/boyfriend or husband/wife, go with 'wants this specific person.' Then your character can do a lot of very specific things to make themselves more appealing to that person.

    Instead of a promotion, make your character's goal 'be the boss of my job.' Then you can have a plot/subplot based around all the little/big things your characters does in order to set himself up to becoming the boss... ranging from trickery to murder.

    Really, though, effort can make anything good. Depending on how much work you put into your story, it can become amazing. For example, an anime called Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor has the very interesting and non-boring goal of... getting more money. Admittedly, future events cause that goal to shift into a fight for survival, but even after he's away from danger, he once again tries to get more money which starts the whole process again. His goal is boring and sub-standard, he wants money, and the anime is awesome and thrilling.

    It's all about what you do with your motivations, so just keep at it. Your motivations aren't bad. In fact, they'd be great motivations for any character, as long as they're done properly.
     
  4. Thundair

    Thundair Contributor Contributor

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    After a night of drinking, he went home with a beautiful girl, black hair and blue eyes. Who could resist? He woke up from a pain in his side, when he went to lift his shirt the handcuffs rattled on the bed frame. The black-haired beauty walked in with a man with surgical tools in his hand.
    She said, Hold on big boy were not done. There are a lot of good parts left in your body .
    He said, “But I want to live.”
     
  5. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Florida Man in Training Contributor

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    Ooh! That's good. His organs have been harvested and he wants'em back! If he lives.
     
  6. aguywhotypes

    aguywhotypes Active Member

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    Thanks all, it boils down to what will you do with it...
     
  7. Woodstock Writer

    Woodstock Writer Senior Member

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    Also, I think, what stands in their way. For example, in the novel I’ve written, the girl wants the other girl. But the other girl is dating her best (male) friend.
     
  8. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Banned Contributor

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    He wants to write a book, save his soul, help his mother, collect ayahuasca drinking inspired shaman art from Peru, find his left sock, bake some cakes, get rid of his heroine addiction, be the first blind man who wins F1 Monaco Gran Prix, have more ice cream, marry his first love, breed bigger sundews, sell them to fund his university studies in University of Nairobi, be famous anorectic sumo wrestler, become virgin again, build skyscrapers from turf and recite Bible in one go.
     
    love to read and peachalulu like this.
  9. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

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    The way I look at character wants is in layers. You have the outermost layer, the innermost layer, and some gray matter in between. For example:

    The outer layer might be that the character wants a particular job. This is something tangible—we know whether this character has it or not. But what does wanting the job really mean? We can dig a little deeper.

    The character wants money. Maybe good benefits. Why? Here’s where we find a more “inner” layer. Does the character want success? To be seen as valuable by society? Or maybe the character needs stability and a safety net. Maybe he needs more money to support a sick parent.

    Ok, go even deeper. What is the “real” want? Maybe caring for the sick parent is a way of atoning for, as the character might believe, being a bad son. He squandered the parent’s generosity and good will and now wants to make up for it before it’s too late.

    Atonement is significantly less tangible. The waters get a lot murkier. Things get complicated. Has he achieved his goal? Does he even really know what his goal is?

    On the surface the story might seem to be about getting a job. But getting the job isn’t going to give him the atonement he’s really after. There’s your conflict.
     
  10. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    You can go about this from the other side as well. What does the protagonist NOT want. What is the worst that could happen to this person? What is the thing he cares about the most? What is she most afraid of losing? These are powerful motivators as well.

    People who don't have things can 'want' them. But people who have things can be fearful of losing them.

    That can be objects or people. But it can also be intangibles like loss of face, or loss of status, or loss of influence, or or loss of love, or loss of independence, or loss of anything they depend on. Loss of a way of life.
     
    Alan Aspie, Thundair and peachalulu like this.
  11. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Agree with above and adding onto what Jannert said a lot of people have conditions for what they want both exterior goals and inner goals. It's like The Grapes of Wrath they didn't just want a job the goal was to keep the family together. A condition to going about how they would achieve their goal and also a way of throwing up conflict. Their inner goals would probably be more about regaining their dignity.
     
    Alan Aspie likes this.
  12. GirlWriter101

    GirlWriter101 Banned

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    I have not read the other posts. (Just a heads up)

    When I am trying to figure out what a character wants I often look at the character themselves. What is something that is lacking in their life, what, if they could reach it, would their highest goal be? As a few examples, here are the wants of some of my MCs, (I left out the ones related to romance)

    1: To have their family get along.
    2: To protect someone at all costs (in this case a younger siblings).
    3: To fight for their country/family/friends.
    4: To prove themselves in some way.
    5: To help others, even when this is seen as wrong.

    Just a few idea, I hope this was helpful!
    3:
     
  13. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    money/to be rich = Citizen Kane
    wants to buy xyz = A Christmas Story
    wants a girl/boyfriend or husband/wife etc = Twilight, Brokeback Mountain, etc.
    wants a job = Ratatouille
    wants a promotion at said job = American Psycho
     

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