Here’s another thing to think about while you’re reading, or if you’re a writer stuck in a story or stuck trying to get a story started: Needs.
David Collins spoke at the Midwest Writers Workshop one year when I attended, and gave us this list of Needs of Youth. I’m like, “Youth? Only Youth? Anybody needs these!”
NEEDS OF YOUTH
To love and be loved
To feel secure, emotionally and physically
To belong to a family, peer group, community
To know and understand
To find beauty and order in life
To achieve, get “somewhere,” gain experience
To stretch the imagination into other worlds and break away from the usual
Now, here’s the thing: Sometimes a character has more than one of these needs that are in conflict. To feel secure AND to break away. To know something that will disrupt the community.
When you’re plotting (or following a plot), see if it doesn’t deepen things if you look beneath the obvious goals to the more basic needs that are being grasped at, threatened, sacrificed, compromised, or achieved by the plot points and action.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Write the Needs on slips of paper. Mix them up. Pick out two and plot a five-point story using them.