When Should and Want Collide

After some internal conflicts of my own, I came to a great realization.

"Should" and "Want" can be two different things...and boy, can they fight!!

Is your story lacking conflict? Does it feel lukewarm? Do your characters seem a little too happy to be interesting? Take a look at what your protagonist wants (goal). Now, take a look at what the protagonist SHOULD want.

Are they different?

If you can make what the protagonist SHOULD DO come into conflict with what the protagonist WANTS TO DO, then you'll have immediate tension in your story.

Have you ever experienced this in your life? Did you choose to go with principle or emotion? What about your main character?


Karen Lange said…
This is an excellent question! Like you said, it has real life and WIP applications. Good things to think about. :)
Not so fun in real life, but great for fiction!! LOL
Connie Keller said…
Great way of clarifying internal conflict!
Oh man, I swear I feel this tension in my life on a daily basis. :D

Reminds me of a verse where Paul talks about how he doesn't do what he should...etc.
Unknown said…
That's a fabulous insight, Jessica. What a character wants to do versus what he should do...

And oh man, yes, such a source of real life tension, too!
Linda Glaz said…
Great, Jess. Love the insight. How'd you get so smart for a young whippersnapper???
Lindsay Harrel said…
Love this thought! I'm looking for ways to up the tension in my stories and internal conflict like this is a great way!
Linda Kage said…
This is one of the MANY things I've been battling in my stories too. The plots and characters have been getting stale because of all the shoulds and wants!
This is a great way to ramp up the tension, Jess. I'll have to remember this for future reference.

Sandra Orchard said…
A great thing to consider for every scene, and day...want to not gain weight from sitting writing on computer all day...should not want to eat the Hershey's kisses sitting in the drawer behind the desk. Hmmm. yeah, it creates conflict alright!
Thanks ladies. It all seems to be a part of the human experience.
Terri Tiffany said…
Love this and will remember it when I'm writing. Thanks!
JD said…
I love this line: "Do your characters seem a little too happy to be interesting?" ;-) Tension in a story keeps the pages turning, indeed. That's why I enjoy a well-written villain in particular--there is a marked difference between what the villain should do and what he wants to do. Great tip!

Enjoy your week...

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