Creating a main problem

29/01/2009 at 5:55 am 1 comment

Every story is driven forward by a problem that the main character faces. The story will then center on him trying to solve that problem.
For example, our hero will be coming home from work on a normal day. He walks into his house and discovers that his children have been kidnapped. He spends the rest of the story trying to solve this problem. In order to have a good story you need a clear, compelling problem for your character to solve.

Deciding on what problem to have will relate strongly to what type of main character you have created. (See part one and two of creating a character).

Characters that are loners are much less likely to want to save the world from a natural disaster than characters with families and friends. There are four major types of problems that your character can encounter

  1. Romantic problems – Romeo and Juliette type stuff
  2. Physical danger – this includes being caught on a rock face with no way down
  3. Psychological danger – this is not only people going crazy but also when you have an evil person who says, play this game of chess with me. If you win you live.
  4. Some sort of quest – to find an goblet, treasure or something of value, or to do something noble like destroy an evil ring in the fire in which it was forged.

Inevitably solving these problems will lead to some sort of character growth. (This will be discussed in more depth in the next blog) for example, Roach (our shy, ugly gnome) wants to journey to edge of the forest to find his mother. This is his quest.

During this quest he will run into a lot of smaller problems like an evil frog will try to eat him, he will have to save a terrible spider but in turn receive a magical jewel and so on and so on.

This will lead to great character growth as each new experience teaches him about himself and stretches his boundaries.
Pick your major problem wisely so that your character has enough motivation to keep going, even when things get tough.


Entry filed under: Writing. Tags: , , , .

How to create the look for your character pt 2 How to add emotion to your illustrated characters

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. lawrenceez  |  29/01/2009 at 9:47 am

    Interesting post. I’m blogging on similar subject. Recently, I reversed the roles of my characters, giving the main protagonist a different quest and set of conflicts.

    All the best with your writing projects. Check out my article on Creative Writing Headaches.


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