Getting into character: the carrier of your driving force and your story’s soul

Written by Claire L. Fishback, PMP

Book Coach & Story Strategist

October 24, 2023

In the previous weeks, you discovered the driving force behind your story and the soul of your story.

The next step is to decide who is the best person to carry and deliver your message to the world (which is the essence of your story).

We’ll be diving into your main character and their opposing force.

I’m not talking about creating complicated character dossiers and expansive character trait sheets or anything like that. It’s much simpler, actually!

All you need to do is think about who your main character must be at the end of your story to reveal your message to the world, and from there you can determine who they are at the beginning.

Because no matter what kind of story you’re telling, your main character needs to have some sort of arc of change (even if it is a negative arc).

Why this is important: Your character is the way your reader will identify with the message on a “human” or more relatable level. Think of your main character as your message personified!

Once you have brainstormed ideas for who your main character is at the end and beginning in order to “prove” your message to the world, now decide who or what is the opposing force keeping them from getting what they want.

The best opposing force is one that delivers the opposite of your message to the world. This force or character could want the same thing as the main character but for different reasons. Or they could want the complete opposite of your character.

This doesn’t always have to be the way of the opposing force, but it is a fun place to start.

With those two options in mind, who or what would carry the opposite message as your character?

Why this is important: Your character’s opposing force will provide additional ways to show your reader your message. Use this force or character to disprove the message, which will further prove what you’re wanting to say.

Remember, even if your opposing force is nature or a storm or some other non-person threat, there should be a character who personifies this threat. That character should have goals and motivations of their own that make sense. They should have a history that led them to be this person.

In terms of your message to the world, consider the opposite of your message and brainstorm who this person is in regard to that opposite message.

Nothing beats a great, well-developed villain. They are the heroes of their own stories, after all.

Now you have the foundation of a great story. The next step? Put some flesh on your story baby’s bones. Check out this bonus post I wrote with 6 ways to brainstorm your story.

Happy writing!

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