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Character Agency

July 16, 2018

Character Agency

When I think of what drives a story forward, I think of plot (This happens, and then this and then that) or action (threat to world… stop the bad guy/girl) or emotion (I do/don’t want to feel this way anymore)

But ultimately, I think a story is all about the character’s motivation and “agency” (Yes I have had to learn this, and I am still learning this)

Who is driving the story?

What do they want?

What is stopping them from getting it?

What will happen when they do get it?

What will happen if they don’t get it?


  • Interview the character and ask all of the above questions.
  • Interview the characters and ask about the other characters in the story and how they get along.
  • Interview the character and ask… What do they want and importantly, why do they want it? Then keep asking why until you get annoying. Why do they want X? Why do they really want it? Why is it important to them? Why? Why? Why?
  • Write down what your character wants and then brainstorm a list of all the ways to stop them from getting it. (Yes this makes you a horrible person… Do it anyway… )


Bring out your inner 2 yr old and ask… “why” until you are blue in the face.

  1. Excellent advice, Laurie. I liked the part about the two-year-old.

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