Everyone has something they want—to find a lost dog, to snag the jewels from a bank heist, to attract a romantic partner—but the reasons behind these desires are complex, suggesting our past experiences in rich ways.
In fiction, giving your protagonists clear goals pushes the story forward, but it also helps you develop complicated characters that will move your readers. Is your character striving for a promotion? Perhaps she’s also working through feelings of worthlessness in her childhood. Is your character searching for a friend’s child after a disastrous day of babysitting? Maybe he’s also confronting his own failings as a man who abandoned his own son years earlier. All great characters contain a mix of these desires—some literal and immediate, others figurative and lingering.
In this workshop, we will look at familiar characters from short fiction and even film to identify these literal and figurative objectives, and a series of in-class prompts will help you use these lessons in your current projects—and also as inspiration for your next story.
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