What Every Story Needs

Ernest Hemingway at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, 1939. Photo by Lloyd Arnold.

Every good story has a good plot.

Every good plot has a driven character.

Every character’s drive is based on a real need.

Define your character’s need and never stop seeking it.

The detective needs answers in a world that won’t give them.

The fighter needs to risk their life to protect what they love.

The doctor needs to find the cause of their patient’s ailment.

The lonely man needs to look after his disabled brother.

The single woman needs to feel secure in a new relationship.

Define your need, and you define your story’s biggest obstacles.

Define your need, and define how your character must change to get it.


The semi-rant you just read is something I came up with a few weeks ago. Honestly, it’s something I’ve been revisiting as I work on not one, but two manuscripts at the same time. Figuring out a character’s basic need, and how it relates to their expressed desires and genuine feelings, is becoming a cornerstone of my writing process. It’s really just a nifty insight that I wanted to share with y’all.

Best of luck, all you working and aspiring writers out there!

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