Worksheet #24 – Creating Obstacles
What does your protagonist really want? This is a question writers often struggle over because the “want” question is not the easy answer to solving the plot. A main character who is a police investigator will “want” to solve the crime, but it’s not what s/he wants in her heart of hearts. That’s the “really want” question.
Maybe what she really wants is a peaceful home life despite the stress and chaos of her job. Maybe what he really wants is acceptance from his neighbors in a new town. Maybe what she really wants is to get past an old trauma and stop feeling unworthy to be alive. Maybe what he really wants is blatant success and lots of money and a big house. (No judgment!)
Conflict happens when obstacles appear that impede the character’s ability to get what s/he wants. Conflicts can be large or small. To create tension, confrontations with obstacles should vary and built (move from small obstacles to large).
Example in Creating Obstacles
What does marry really want? To marry Joe
What are 10 obstacles to this? (small to large)
- Mary’s accused of a crime and out on bail awaiting trial
- Joe is 5 years younger
- Joe is her best friend’s ex
- Joe’s family hates her from some old family feud
- Mary is in a grad school program and marrying Joe would mean dropping out
- Richard (Joe’s brother) is in love with Mary
- Mary and Joe are on opposite spectrums financially, politically, religiously, etc.
- Joe has two children and Mary has no experience with children
- Mary is allergic to Joe’s beloved dog
- Joe thinks Mary is guilty of crime in #1
How will Mary overcome these obstacles to get what she wants? Which are true impediments and which are things you learn to ignore or work out in a relationship?
Now, your turn.
What does your character want?
Name 10 obstacles (small to large)
Figure out which are true obstacles and which are things you learn to live with, or around.
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