We are considering what makes a book character real to the readers. So we have more coats to be added. If you go through life with no plan, no goal, nothing to look forward too, nothing to plan for, I’d say you were leading a very boring life. Even if the goal is to get up in the morning and go to work, you have a goal. But chances are you want more, a lot more, out of your existence, than just getting up in the morning and going to work. Why go to work? Probably because it’s the best way to pay your bills. If you’re lucky, you like what you do, but polls tell us, most of us don’t really enjoy our labors. So lets assume your book character is a normal person. Goal, get up in the morning and go to work. Does he or she like the job required of them. Or would they rather be doing something else, in fact anything else. Another way to make your character real to you reader. “Hey, that person is just like me!”
But then, like most of us, your character has a larger goal, a reason to getting going, the need to pay the bills. Is the hero working to put a younger sibling through school? Is the heroine at the job she hates because her sick mother need special medication and the stuff is tremendously expensive? Higher goals. Okay, we’ve raised the level of the character’s goal. How about the villain? Is he working at the job because it will get him close to the person he is most interested in destroying? I did mention I liked to write villains didn’t I?
Okay, so we now have added another layer to our book character. The individual in you book has a goal, worthy, or worthless, but still a goal. Tomorrow we’ll look at how that goal motivates the character. That motivation is the way we build the conflict that will drive the character in the story.
I can recommend an excellent book about Goals, Motivation and Conflict. It’s GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. 1996. She does a terrific job tying the three “building Blocks of Good Fiction” (her words, not mine) together. But at this point we are only interested in developing a real, and great book character. A great character is a character the reader remembers, and all authors want their characters to be remembered.